Why Take a Yoga Teaching Certification Course?: About Ancient and Modern Hatha Yoga Teacher Training

Yoga training has its origins in ancient India. Yoga teaching certification programs have become popular as the practice of yoga has become increasingly popular in modern times. The primary benefits of the yoga practice include stress management, better health, increased peace of mind, focus and mental clarity.

The Purpose of Yoga Training

The ultimate purpose of yoga training, however, is to attain “mukti:” a Sanskrit word that means liberation, or freedom from all types of suffering. A yoga teaching certification program can thus not only enable one to become employed as a yoga teacher, but can also deepen one’s spiritual understanding and empower one to pass on the deeper meaning of the practice.

History of Hatha Yoga Teacher Training

According to Swami Satyananda Saraswati in his book “Asana Pranayama Mudra Bandha,” hatha yoga teacher training has existed since ancient times, though without the “yoga teaching certification” created in modern times.

Back then, yoga techniques were secret knowledge, seldom exposed to the public or recorded. Hatha yoga teacher training consisted of a teacher (called a “guru”) passing along what he or she had learned to his or her disciple via word of mouth. This was thought to ensure a clearer understanding of the deeper aim of yoga training, which is liberation of the inner spirit.

Realized yoga masters personally assisted sincere students in yoga training by removing confusion and misunderstandings and ensuring that students did not engage in excess intellectual debate over yogic teachings.

Ancient hatha yoga teacher training focused upon helping students develop a disciplined practice of yoga based on a deep understanding of the true meaning yoga. Ancient yoga training also strongly emphasized the adherence to a strict ascetic lifestyle.

Types of Modern Yoga Teaching Certification Programs

Hatha yoga teacher training in modern times is typically conducted through a yoga teaching certification program rather than the one-on-one apprenticeships of the past. Popular yoga teaching certification programs include:

  • Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training
  • Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training
  • Jivamukti Yoga Teacher Training
  • Bikram Yoga Teacher Training
  • Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training
  • Kundalini Yoga Teacher Training

Time Frame of Yoga Teaching Certification Courses

The time frame of a yoga teaching certification program can vary widely from school to school. A yoga teaching certification program can be a nonstop four week immersion or a program that spans two years, meeting on weekends or other specified times.

In ancient India, the “gurukula” tradition required that a yoga student live with his or her teacher from the age of eight through 25 in order to learn all aspects of yoga and to live by the disciplined code of conduct considered most conducive to spiritual and personal development.

Features of Yoga Teaching Certification Programs

Modern yoga teaching certification programs can involve just the physical aspects of the yoga practice: learning about anatomy and how to teach pranayama (breathing exercises) and asanas (yoga poses).

Hatha yoga teacher training can also include learning ways to master the mind through formal meditation techniques. It can involve training in how to eat properly to gain the maximum health benefits from yoga breathing and physical exercises.

Kirtan (call and response chanting) is another feature of some yoga teaching certification programs. Karma yoga is an aspect of some hatha yoga teacher training programs: it is the practice of yogic service, embodying the ideal of giving without expectation of personal reward or gain.

Some yoga teaching certification programs also provide students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of yoga philosophy through including study of ancient yogic texts including:

  • The Bhagavad Gita
  • The Upanishads
  • The Hatha Yoga Pradipika
  • Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras

Knowledge of the spiritual teachings, though excluded from some yoga teaching certification programs today, is an essential aspect of being able to embody the yoga practice and serve as a role model of peace for one’s students. Yoga philosophy offers many profound insights for a spiritual way of life, meaningful work, relationships, and ways to contribute to the community.

Considerations for Taking a Yoga Teaching Certification Course

Those interested in taking a yoga teaching certification courses should be very familiar with the yoga practice through years of experience with yoga.

It is important for those interested in hatha yoga teacher training to develop a daily yoga practice as soon as possible to remain inspired to teach and to continue evolving in order to be an effective yoga teacher.

The benefits of taking a yoga teacher certification course extend beyond the physical realm and can create deep transformation in one’s life, enabling one to touch others deeply as a yoga teacher.

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