Many of my friends have been asking me if I am finished with my yoga teacher training program. In fact, I only just completed the mid-term exams this weekend. We had both written and oral exams with essay questions on philosophy, a list of chants to memorize and understand as long as my arm (hint: my arms are really long), and questions about (regular, Western) anatomy, subtle anatomy, practice development for people with health problems and more. Almost everyone in our group admitted to getting little sleep the night before our oral exams...we were all studying so hard.
Hooray! We all passed! Well, several people actually dropped out of the program but perhaps that was not a direct result of the examinations.
There has been some media attention recently about how yoga teachers are certified, with the general agreement that the quality of training can vary widely. Even within the tradition I am studying, it varies. A friend is taking a 200-hr training in this tradition with another person and her experience has been very different, and I must say, much less vigorous. While it might be easy to think that my training must be better because it is more demanding, I think that judgement can only be made when one asks what will the people do who take the training. Within my 500-hr group, only a couple of us really plan to teach. The others are doing it for their own knowledge and practice, perhaps with plans to teach in the future, or maybe not.
This isn't "Abs of Steel" yoga or "thin, sexy, cool" yoga or even my dear ashtanga yoga that is so, so appealing to those of us who enjoy a good sweat. No, this is "so, you say you want to change your life?" yoga. For whatever reason...a pain in your back, a pain in your heart, or the observation that maybe life doesn't have to be this way: this yoga isn't about feeding what is already overstuffed in your personality. Believe me, it isn't always fun to have to feed that other part that is starving. I mean, we were starving it for a reason, right?
Anyway, we are half-way through. And, no doubt, I will become even more unbearable by the time we finish the other half.
After the oral exams were over and we were all a bit giddy and exhausted, we still had six hours of anatomy with our anatomy instructor. We were studying our "organ body". I love our anatomy instructor - she is a dancer and yoga teacher who approaches anatomy in a very experiential way. At one point, she had us initiating movement via our pancreas. Maybe it was because we were all in a slightly light-headed post-exam state of mind, but it seemed possible. I invite you to try. Your pancreas might thank you.