Welcome as a participant to our one-year course in scratching the surface of yoga. Teaching yoga is a subtle art and it requires patience, stamina and a keen interest to learn the subject.
To therefore do justice to the subtle art of teaching yoga takes much more than a year or six months of intensive studies. You will certainly learn some new postures, breathing techniques, read up on the classics, be introduced to yoga anatomy and learn some Sanskrit prayers, but in order to improve our teaching of yoga we have to live it.
This course is first and foremost a tool to help you in this process and our principle aim is to build a solid foundation that will provide a clear perspective and proper outlook for your further study and integration of what yoga is. This course is not about creating a quick fix to what yoga is nor is it trying to simplify the subject. It is deep and it is subtle. Our focus here is primarily to deepen your own practice and increase your personal understanding of what yoga is. When that becomes steady, teaching will naturally follow like a well overflowing.
There is much hype about yoga these days, it touches people in various ways and it is stimulating on many levels. Unfortunately it can also create confusion and dissolution when it is based on ignorance, dogma or superstition. Our main responsibility is therefore to become clear of what we do as practitioners and teachers and execute that to the best of our potential.
Personally I believe a yoga teacher should first and foremost do justice to the essence of yoga. That requires dedicated studies, supported by daily practices and a constant willingness to examine all aspects of our mind and our behaviour. Scratching the surface of yoga is time consuming and requires a lot of efforts. The mind is unruly by nature, and tends to mislead us if we are not careful. Yet the goal of yoga offers a steady constant support from within for all trials of life, and our duty is therefore to gain a practical experience of what it is. According to the principle texts it is something we all share and it becomes visible according to our capability to embrace it. The layers of ignorance runs deep, they are intricate and sutble, and unfortunately yoga is never quite what we would like it to be. It is beyond thought and concept, practice and definition, but at the same time the underlying essence that illuminates our conscious being and patterns of behaviour. Our efforts in trying to become clear of what yoga is, is a transformational tool for greater good on all levels and thus certainly worth all our efforts.
Unfortunately these days many modern yoga teachers travels the world with a rock-star status improvising on the theme of what yoga is. Some of them may be really good, but unfortunately charisma, attitude, über cool, trends, a pretty face, a pumped up body, radical opinions, great entertainers and fanciful projections often put the quality and clarity of the subject in the background. Another problem is that since yoga is relatively new in the western world, our understanding of it is quite limited and narrow, and instead of having the patience to examine it over time, we tend to grasp onto the postures and breathing exercises and belive that to be the end-all of yoga. Yes, a good āsana practice is certainly a marvelous tool to refine the practitioner, but also keep in mind that for an āsana to be called yoga, there has to be an element of yoga within it, unless we can easily just make an ass of ourselves!
Yoga is an integrated part of the Indian tradition that articulated various ways to remove suffering and find greater clarity and introspection of what constitutes the ultimate support of our being. When we can understand yoga within that context, as a way to become clear, remove suffering and find greater stability within us, then perhaps we can do justice to the subject and illuminate our understanding of what yoga truly is.