Questions to Yoga Teachers from Non-Yoga People…and My Response

1. Can you teach me yoga…for free?

Yes, we can actually do that. Reaching out and sharing the gift of yoga to as many people as possible gives tremendous joy in our hearts. We would love to teach for free. It is our social responsibility to promote yoga and help others in whatever way we can. Which is why we have KARMA YOGA (usually for free) sessions. You know what we can’t do? Teach you IN PRIVATE for free AT YOUR OWN TERMS just because you feel like learning yoga isn’t worth paying for.

While we do love conducting free classes for groups who really need it, or for promoting wellness, teaching is also our means of earning a living. So we try to structure our free classes on timeslots that are available to a wider audience and for a demographic who would most likely respond positively.

Please keep in mind that if we have to give a free session, we would have to sacrifice time that we could have otherwise used to place food on our table (so ask us nicely). You wouldn’t want your teacher to go hungry, would you? Unless it’s for Karva Chauth 🙂 (Maybe if you ask a little more nicely…)

Also, as teachers, we need to constantly update our knowledge and improve our skills. This requires rigorous training programs that are usually not available in our own city. These programs do not come cheap. They most certainly don’t come for free. We have to pay for workshops, teacher training, books, and all other living expenses incidental to joining these programs just so we could provide quality service and keep our students safe.

New Doc 3_1

It ain’t easy ~

Please consider all these things the next time you ask us to teach you for free. And again, ask us nicely. 🙂

2. I don’t need yoga because I’m already flexible / I am not flexible enough for yoga

Improved flexibility is one of the many benefits of yoga. But what a lot of non-yoga people don’t realize is that there is so much more to yoga than just being flexible. Asanas (postures) alone can improve your balance, stability and coordination. Asanas will challenge your strength and activate muscles you never knew you had. Apart from asanas, you will also learn how to control your breath, which will subsequently lead you to control your thoughts and your responses to those thoughts. Yoga is more than just improving the physical body. Yoga is a union of the body with breath, of mind with soul.

3. Yoga is for girls / Yoga is gay

HAHAHA! I can’t help but laugh every time I hear that because it usually comes from a blatantly chauvinistic ignorant person who probably couldn’t even hold a chaturanga for 5 full breaths if his life depended on it. I wouldn’t even try to convince that person to try yoga because 1. he doesn’t have the heart and strength for it and 2. he’s a blatantly chauvinistic ignorant person and frankly, at the risk of sounding egotistical, who wants to associate with that? Hahahaha.

Do you even lift, bro?

Do you even lift, bro?

4. I can’t do what you do in your photos!

Don’t worry, neither could I before I started my practice. Everyone has to start somewhere. What you see in my photos isn’t the starting point. Not even close.

5. Yoga is against my religious beliefs

WHAT?! What religion is against non-violence, truthfulness, non-covetousness, purity, and non-greed?!?! Those are the 5 universal principles every yogi tries to follow.

6. Do you actually sweat in yoga?

I live in the Philippines. I sweat even when I don’t move. If you live in tropical regions where the climate is generally hot and humid, I would say “Yes, you actually sweat all your fluids out in yoga”. But if you lived somewhere cold, I guess you would need an intense Power Vinyasa sesh or a hot room for gentler classes, to break a sweat. So, this one depends on where you are and what season it is.

7. Yoga is just stretching…

I have read a fair amount of literature about yoga. I try to study yoga from its roots. And I can tell you with almost a full certainty that yoga is not JUST stretching. But yeah, stretching is a good place to start.

8. Does yoga make you lose weight?

No. Diet, exercise and discipline make you lose weight. Yoga just happens to be a discipline that somewhat requires moderate eating and light exercise. Also, I just happened to lose 20 pounds since I started practicing yoga. It could have been just a happy coincidence.

Let’s Get Certified!

I often come across articles on the Internet criticizing how numerous yoga practitioners these days are getting some sort of teaching certification. These write-ups question the necessity of acquiring such credentials at the early stage of one’s practice. There is now a growing concern about inevitably having inexperienced, unqualified “certified” teachers in our midst if this trend continues.

This attitude of berating our peers is so un-yogi-like. I feel that as a yoga community, all of us should inspire and encourage the growth of everyone as an individual. It is not for any of us to say who qualifies or not to obtain an RYT-200, because people doing this have their own, valid reasons. Some people opt for this training to deepen their personal practice and have no intention of teaching at all. Some experienced practitioners/teachers go through this “bureaucracy” because it’s the only way for them to further their careers. And there are those who, like me, would like to test the waters of teaching.

My take on teaching asanas started early this year when my mentor, Helen, offered specialized teacher training to the next set of Marichi Yoga House teachers. I fell in love with teaching almost immediately. Giving cues, aligning students, asking them to let go of their baggage and their ego before coming into their mats just gave me a sense of joy that not even receiving snide looks and remarks from some students could put me off. My practice was relatively young (and it still is), since I only started doing asanas in April 2013. But my God, how my life has changed (particularly my attitude). With yoga, I found my peace. And I would like to share it to anyone who would listen. My practice may be young, but I believe my heart is in the right place. And so I do what I can to deepen my practice and develop my teaching skills.

With my mentor, Helen of Marichi Yoga House, behind me.

With my mentor, Helen of Marichi Yoga House, behind me.

While none of us may have a say on who gets “certified”, we do have a say on who we let into our lives. We can always choose which teachers we want to take classes from. I know that “certified” does not necessarily equate to “qualified”, but I would like to believe that anyone who has the heart to teach yoga would never allow themselves to compromise the growth and safety of their students. Current and aspiring yoga teachers do their maximum best to give the students their time and money’s worth for the experience.

Practice teaching with the faculty of Marichi Yoga House

Practice teaching with the faculty of Marichi Yoga House

But let us keep in mind that as individuals, we should not solely rely on the teacher for our ultimate growth in the practice. Although it is true that a knowledgeable teacher must be able to guide us safely through our asanas and pranayamas, we cannot possibly depend our lives on them. For one, teachers are also human beings. They DO NOT know EVERYTHING. But they do know how to keep you safe. Safety is crucial. Having said that, we must also do our part as students to ensure that our practice remains a safe, sacred and solid personal experience.

So, instead of bashing our aspiring/current teachers, let us offer them our constructive criticism instead. They will greatly appreciate honesty as it will help their growth as teachers too. Negativity only leads to hostility. Let us be kind and patient with them as they are with us. And don’t get too bothered with the fact that everyone (and their sister) is getting certified! Let it go! 😀

So, India

After an eternity of begging my father to allow me one final trip abroad before my 25th birthday, he finally agreed to let me take my 200-hour Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training in no less than the world’s yoga capital itself – Rishikesh, Uttarkhand, India – a city on the foot of the Himalayas, along the banks of the sacred Ganges River.

I’ll be going on this trip with my mentor, Helen Prieto. I am beyond stoked! A little bit scared, but excited, nonetheless. I’ve made all my travel arrangements and now I’m just counting the days (errr, weeks) until my flight to Delhi.

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