Teacher Skills and Knowledge

By Mark Stephens on Tue, 05/03/2016 - 07:11

With more and more students opting for open-minded teachers on a consciously evolving path rather than gurus claiming to transmit pure ancient teachings, students are increasingly setting higher standards for teachers’ overall knowledge and technical skill. An important facet of contemporary yoga evolution shines forth from the rapidly expanding fields of insight into the nature and functioning of the bodymind that is abundantly available for teachers to learn. With this we are beginning to see movement in the yoga community toward more robust standards of competence that are supported by both the received wisdom of tradition and emerging insights from multiple fields such as ayurveda (the science of life that is very much evolving), kinesiology, psychology, and neuroscience. 


What does this mean for yoga teachers in the twenty-first century? As we started this story a few hundred pages back, there is no end to what we can learn. If, as a community of yoga teachers, we are committed to elevating the yoga teaching profession to a place of esteemed recognition and legitimacy, we must continue to raise our own standards. The two-hundred- hour minimum standard for yoga teacher training is likely to be increasingly seen as the bare minimum in preparing teachers to teach with the knowledge and skill required for basic competence, as are the ten hours of annual continuing education required of teachers under existing Yoga Alliance standards. We can, and I think should, do far more to train, guide, and give ongoing support to new teachers. We should also ask even the most experienced teachers to continue learning, to continue developing their skills and knowledge as the world of yoga continues to evolve and to be informed by advances across the arts and sciences of human development. Ensuring that students have teachers with comprehensive competence seems not like a lofty goal but rather the least we should promise.  


Now here you are. In every breath, you have the opportunity to consciously evolve as a teacher, a student, and a human. Breathe deeply to keep opening yourself to all the possibilities for how you can keep becoming the very best teacher you can be, one who recognizes and supports each and every student in discovering the best teacher they will ever have—the one dancing in their own heart.