So, I have now finished my Ashtanga yoga teacher training but should you do it? Anyone who has been in the Ashtanga scene long enough knows the controversial topic of yoga teacher trainings. Which are of course not encouraged because it is not the parampara method. Parampara means the knowledge that has been passed on from teacher to student and, therefore, is the direct continuation of the lineage. The only way to pass on that lineage is through paramaguru Sharath Jois, and he is the only one who can give you a teaching authorisation. You can read more about parampara here.
In this post I will also describe our final day of the TTC (=teacher training course) and then give my opinion on whether or not you should do Ashtanga yoga teacher training.
The 4 weeks of the yoga teacher training went very fast, as you might have guessed. On the last day we had our morning practice as usual and after that a test. In this test you needed to write down the whole primary sequence, naming all the asanas (ie. postures) with their Sanskrit and English names, count in Sanskrit until 17, know the drishtis, which means the gazing point during each asana, the 3 bandhas, which are the body locks, the 8 limbs, which describes the Ashtanga yoga philosophy, yamas and niyamas which belong to the 8 limbs and can be described as behaviour codes for yogis to follow, and also the definition of pranayama (extension of the breath/prana, or the extension of the life force) and chakras. I passed it with flying colours!
In the afternoon we had the graduation ceremony. It was 4pm and maybe a tad bit too hot for the ceremonial photos because I think you are supposed to look nice and fresh. Everybody was sweating. Mind you, I had just been to the sauna as well, so could be that that was causing some extra perspiration. At the ceremony we also discussed our tapas and how the 4 weeks had gone with our chosen tapa.
Tapas and constricted eating
And just in case you haven’t read the previous post I will explain that this has nothing to do with the Spanish small dishes. Tapa is a way to discipline yourself. We all needed to choose one thing we live without during the course. For me it was not so hard to be without refined sugar. Of course I felt like having an icecream every once in a while or my sweet tooth was aching occasionally but nothing that I couldn’t handle.
It was not difficult being without meat as I am mostly vegetarian. Here in Thailand I love the inexpensive soups though that they sell on the street and they have a little bit of meat in them. I noticed that my diet during the course unfortunately become more monotonous, because of the constrictions. I did not have time to make my own food so most of the time I relied on Thai takeaway or made myself an omelette. Therefore, my diet was quite Thai curry and rice/vegetable noodles based which is not necessary a super good thing. Quite a lot of carbs and oil in these and not always so many veggies. For breakfast, I made myself a raw porridge or a chia pudding with lots of fruits, seeds and nuts so the start for the day was always super healthy and balancing the overall diet. The healthy and conscious vegetarian and vegan meals are quite pricey here, especially if you eat out. I just couldn’t allow myself to eat over 200 baht meals every day because I’m here for the long run. Many of the girls ate at Orion every day and the dishes there are healthy, nutritious and delicious but I just didn’t want to spend so much money on food.
Anyway, I have been feeling very healthy and my skin is glowing so I must have gotten something right. For sure I will try to follow a healthier eating habit and consume less sugar and meat. I actually got myself a soy yoghurt but it tasted way too sweet. It must’ve had so much added sugar. Didn’t feel right eating it. I also made a focaccia a few days later and was stuffing myself with wheat and consequently, felt a bit sick afterwards. So I think healthier eating habits, or more precisely, more conscious eating habits are here to stay. Hopefully.
The Last Supper
Around sunset we went to Romanzo Tropicale again to celebrate this special day. Lots of pizza and wine consumed. Have to give heads up to some of my fellow yoginis who could order their pizzas without cheese. I could never do it. I went vegan when I was about 14 or 15. Did it for about a year or two. I don’t think I could live without cheese anymore. It’s just too damn good! A few others were also planning to go out on this special occasion but in the end, I think I was the only one who went out dancing. Was quite liberating when you don’t need to look at the time constantly or worry if the last drink is a bit too much for you.
Am I ready to teach?
Well, not really. On a small scale, to friends or at grass-root level, yes. I wouldn’t, however, feel qualified to teach a whole class and take money for it. There is a big responsibility and my knowledge remains limited. You can’t expect to learn enough during 200 hours. That’s just a scratch on the surface. I really wish people are not signing up for these and starting to teach straight after the course, considering themselves as knowledgeable teachers. I know there must be some who do this, though.
Having said that, to me, this course was very useful and I’m happy that I did it. It gave a very good base on which to build up on. It would be hard to gather all this knowledge just from your regular practice which quite often is just the physical practice. Furthermore, I didn’t sign up for this course to become a full-time yoga teacher. There are so many dedicated and good teachers out there already who really put their heart into it. They want to live and breath yoga. I haven’t got that kind of a calling (at least not yet).
If you want to read about someone else’s experiences have a look at this post from the Buddhi Blog. I thought it was quite good and honest.
Having said that, I do have some ideas on how I could put my newly acquired skills into use. I’ve been playing around with the idea of organising combined yoga/riding/wellness holidays in Finland at some point in the future. After completing TTC, I feel that it is doable. It requires a lot of hard work, capital and self-study obviously. But it’s possible. Nevertheless, before I’d really start pursuing this goal, I feel that I want and need to know more. Only after that would I feel honest in taking money for it.
Another thing that has grabbed my attention is prison yoga. I come from the social field so this would be a natural continuation of it. I want to help people, and in this way I could combine both yoga and social work/rehabilitation. I will keep following their announcements on teacher trainings. They’ve had a few in Europe and I’d love to attend one next year.
I don’t like it how these yoga teacher training have become big business. Nevertheless, the same thing has happened to yoga overall and we can’t stop the progress. Overall, it’s a good thing that yoga is gaining popularity and more and more people are discovering it, whether it be only the physical aspect or the mental state and the whole philosophy.
I value Ashtanga’s parampara method which “produces” authorised and certified teachers with only Sharath’s blessing but I’m not sure if this is the only way to go either. Sure, I would like to go study in his classes but I’ve heard there’s a lot of competition on his attention and to me that wouldn’t feel right either.
Ok. I finished Ashtanga yoga teacher training but should you do it? Well, I think it’s left to the individual to decide. Sorry, can’t give you a better answer. Actually, sure, do one if you can, I’m sure it’s useful if the place is “legit” but remember that you don’t know that much yet. Continue your practice and keep doing svadhyaya (self-study). Maybe one day you will be ready to teach.