Monday, March 3, 2014

Is it possible to create an objective standard of competency for yoga teachers?

The term yoga is extremely broad and contains many disciplines, philosophies and practices.  Here are just a few:


  • Meditation
  • Pranayama
  • Mindfulness
  • Chanting
  • Self-inquiry
  • Renouncing the distractions of life
  • Engaging with life with awareness

Many of these subcategories cannot be viewed objectively; one cannot watch someone meditate and decide if it is working for them, for instance.  So the answer to the question “Can you create objective standards for observing effective meditation?” would be no.


Some things in life can be viewed in a relatively objective way.  For instance:

Is this shape round?

The answer is Yes

How is it that we can all agree the shape above is round?  Is it because we have all been indoctrinated with a standardized, hierarchal way of thinking and really, there is no one “round”?


We agree the shape is round because the definition of a circle is that it is a round plane figure whose boundary (the circumference) consists of points equidistant from a fixed point (the center).


We can determine the shape is round by measuring it with instruments, or less formally by looking at it and saying: “That’s pretty round” or “That’s pretty round, man”.

So then

If we reduce our question about yoga to “Can a posture be observed for its effectiveness?”  Then we might be able to apply objective standards.


We would need to agree that doing a pose has some benefits, and that those benefits are increased as the form of the pose moves toward its definition.

For instance

If we define the posture Tadasana (Mountain pose) as a standing pose in which the legs are straight, the spine is erect and the arms are alongside the body, then the further away from that definition the pose is, the less effective it will be as Tadasana

For example, if you are sitting in a chair with a round spine and your feet are not bearing any weight, we could say that this is not an effective form of Tadasana.

If you agree with this so far, then you agree that objective standards for postures can be created.

If you agree with the last statement, then you may agree that there is a way to teach someone how to observe, refine and assist a pose to increase its effectiveness, and therefore, it is possible to create objective standards of competency for teachers of asana - postures.

If you do agree, and you are interested in becoming a yoga teacher and meeting objective standards of competency, please contact me.


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