Its time people. Its time to lay to rest the myths of the “gym rat Yoga teacher”
This is one of my favorite misconceptions about yoga, that a Gym Rat’s yoga isn’t real yoga..
Let’s look at the myths themselves…..
Myth #1 If you teach yoga in a gym you must not be certified or you’re not qualified to teach yoga……. I have been in the fitness industry for almost 30 years (15 teaching yoga) and I have always worked where certifications were mandatory whether you are teaching jazzercise, Tabata, Zumba or Yoga. If you go to a gym and ask about the qualifications of all its instructors and if they can’t say where their Zumba instructor or Yoga teacher are certified through go somewhere else. And let me also say that there are some teachers in Yoga studio settings that are terrible teachers, some good some bad. Location doesn’t have anything to do with ability.
Myth #2… If you teach yoga in a gym you must not be teaching ‘real’ yoga….What the hell?! Seriously what is ‘real yoga’? What does that even mean? Are we talking about the philosophy of yoga? The full 8 limbs as presented by Pantajoli? Is real yoga an asana class where everyone can stand on their hands? What is real yoga? When you can answer that question I will tell you how it relates to what I teach.
Myth #3… If you teach in a gym you are a ‘gym rat’ and gym rats couldn’t possibly understand the depths of what yoga is or can be and you probably only teach the poses so it’s ‘just’ an exercise class. …And to that I say ‘So what!!? So Fucking what!….Asana (one of the 8 limbs of Yoga) is exercise, physical exercise & is probably the best possible exercise for your body….. As well as your mind and spirit.
OK so why am I making a big deal about this now, well I was watching Super Soul Sunday (I Love that show) and Oprah was interviewing Ali McGraw (Love Story) and Oprah asked her how she started her day and Ms McGraw was talking about her cat (or was it a dog?), getting up early and reading and then she mentioned that she did yoga every day and not the hot powerful yoga but her practice was about meditation, the asana to her was meditation prep. It was a lovely conversation…until……. She said she tries to take classes when she can and that where she lives there are wonderful teachers “who have been studying for years not like the gym rat who just decided to do yoga”. Yep she said it, on national TV, on the Oprah show, Damn. And that’s where she lost me. Actually she kinda pissed me off.
So what really makes a good yoga teacher?
Is it someone who has been studying at the feet of great yogis for decades? Maybe, it is certainly a good start. But being good at studying doesn’t mean you are good at teaching.
Is it someone who has been practicing yoga for many many years, of course it doesn’t hurt to have a long held practice of your own. But a good teacher doesn’t teach what they ‘do’ they teach what is ‘needed’ by the students in front of them. My personal practice often times looks very different from my classes.
I have known some wonderful yoga teachers over the years and some have only been teaching a short time & some for decades. Some teach in Yoga studios & some in gyms. Some teach in church basements or in community centers.
The location doesn’t matter, but the journey does.
A good yoga teacher takes you on a journey of understanding, of body awareness, of slowing down the mind while strengthening the body. A journey of self-discovery that may begin with the body but also uplifts the spirit.
So here is the link to the full interview, ’cause it was a good show and I enjoyed watching it until she misspoke about us gym rats.