Teacher Assessment : Certification and Self

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For any yoga teacher and student, the question of “how do I become a yoga teacher” is common. Yoga is powerful and people fall in love with it all the time. But, if you ask an Iyengar Yoga teacher, you might need to tuck in for a bit of a longer story than “oh yeah go here” or “sure…all you gotta do is this”.  Or, depending on how you look at it, maybe it is even more simple…”in order to become a Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher, first you must be a dedicated Iyengar Yoga student”.

The interest of the Iyengars to instill a love and dedication in the subject of yoga far outweighs their interest in certification and assessment of teachers…this may come as a shock if you have been privy to the amount of time and energy and study an Iyengar Teacher needs to put in before being able to teach. But, in my opinion, when you look at the certification process for Iyengar Yoga, it is less a “process of becoming a teacher” and more an amazing syllabus and guideline for the learning process of self-study, observation, and study of yogic philosophy. To move through the syllabi of Iyengar Certification for your own self betterment can be a most insightful journey.

On top of that process of becoming a more dedicated student, if you so choose to become a teacher 3+ years later, the connection you have made to yourself and your teacher(s) along the way will serve you well. As tradition has been passed on, the guru (teacher) is the outside eye to better the sisya (student), shedding light on the subject and a new light on themselves. Otherwise we very well may carry all our usual mental and bodily habits into our yoga practice that we carry in life.

My preparation for assessment exams (so far 4) has always been just another choice to take a GIANT PUSH in transformation of myself not just as a teacher, but as a practitioner and a human being in life. I have had to make videos of practice and classes and look at myself – literally – as a student and mentor. What am I actually saying? What do I actually see? What is my body actually doing? Am I really making any sense? It can be surprising! Our mind tells us all sorts of things that aren’t quite true – bad and good. So, to be able to observe self in action and speech in the hopes to improve and adjust and transform can be a difficult undertaking. Courage, faith, and ego are tested to their fullest.

Those around me know how much I still curse the technology required to make these tapes, to transfer them and transport them to my teacher who then has to also watch them and assess me before actual assessment is even applied for. But, I am always surprised at my ultimate reaction. After the initial ego cringes and Pranayama preparation is done to prepare myself to read the feedback,  I do always welcome the candor and the insight from that teacher who I know has seen many others before me and has had many years of practice above and beyond me.

After the first read through or listen, I become giddy with the prospect of being able to see myself and hear myself in a different light and in a different way. My class last night will attest I may even laugh at myself when I finally might hear something new in my voice or delivery. No matter what, those same students will always benefit at the end of all this if I am able to be more clear with my words and demonstrations, more succinct in my language, and in general give them the time to digest and experience what I truly want them to in that short time of class that I have them.

So for me, this process of assessment goes both ways. It is not just someone else giving their opinion of me, but a chance to have light shined on my self at a different angle or a different level to see more clearly. A self studentship and assessment that grows deeper, not just another notch in title on the certification belt.

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