Yoga has definitely gone from a fringe practice to a massive fitness movement. According to a study conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance, there were 36 million yoga practitioners in 2016 up from 20.4 million in 2012. And that number is constantly growing. Therefore, it’s not surprising that more and more people are training to become yoga teachers.
In fact, for every teacher out there, there are two more people in teacher training – outpacing the growth of new students. But why is this happening and how will it affect the practice in the future?
Yoga has Moved Online
Studios are struggling to compete with the glut of mobile options. Being able to squeeze in a workout at any time or any place can be wonderful–and this is a low cost option that’s easy to accomplish anywhere. The practice has even secured a room in some airports where passengers can take a break from the hustle and bustle of travel to stretch and relax.
However, a digital workout can’t replace the face-to-face connection with a real human, especially when you are just starting out your practice. Moreover, an in-real-time correction of a pose can save you from a lifetime of doing downward dog incorrectly and help reduce injuries in the future.
Plus videos could mean that the prettiest teachers win out. However, looking great on camera does not necessarily mean you are the best teacher.
To keep people in their studios, practices have turned towards teacher certification programs that churn out teachers faster than you can say ‘tree pose.” However, some programs train their teachers to repeat scripts rather than teach the meaning behind the script itself. The practice itself isn’t about just running through the moves, it’s about achieving a deeper connection with your body and your breath. And to really teach that connection, you need to spend years working with a yogi mentor who can help you hone your senses and develop your practice.
However, many people who take these programs don’t have any intention of teaching: they just want the certification. Teacher certification can feel like an achievement, something to point to when talking about your yoga practice. Or it can be a back up plan: If all else fails, I can always teach yoga.
What Does This Means For You?
More teachers mean more choice. However, like everything in this world, you need to examine the fine print. Ask how and where your teacher was certified. In addition, if you are pregnant or have special needs, be sure your instructor has special certifications. If you are feeling unsafe in a workout class, trust your gut and try another teacher. Furthermore, if you do your entire practice at home, throw in a class every once in a while to make sure you are on the right track. (Discover teachers and studios near you.)
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 Yoga Journal, “2016 Yoga in America Study Conducted by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance”
 Sleeping in Airports, “Yoga Rooms: 9 airports where you can practice your downward dog,” Editorial Staff, January 2016