Why Certify?

By Donalee Campbell
Coordinator, Teacher Training & Certification Program

Adapted from the original article published in the Autumn 2011 edition of the Yoga Bridge

There is currently no legislation or licensing requirements for regulating yoga teachers in Alberta. Anyone can teach yoga in the province. Furthermore, teacher training programs exist that can train you to teach yoga in as little as one week, with no prior yoga experience required. So why would a yoga teacher voluntarily submit to the stringent certification and recertification requirements set by the Yoga Association of Alberta (YAA)?

The Yoga Sutras call for steady practice over an extended period of time, along with devotion, discipline, deep understanding and faith. The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as skill in action. Yoga teachers and yoga teacher training should exemplify these qualities.

It is precisely because they believed in setting high standards that dedicated local yoga teachers banded together to form the Yoga Association of Alberta over forty years ago. In an effort to support each other’s efforts, to benefit and protect the public; and to establish credentials that would be accepted by other professional bodies, the YAA was formed as a grassroots organization that cared deeply about the well-being of its community. As a registered charitable organization, run by a board of volunteers and a few staff, the YAA coordinates the work and activities of yoga practitioners province-wide and promotes yoga as a holistic system of fitness and health for Albertans. The YAA Outreach Program offers opportunities for rural and underprivileged communities to benefit from yoga. The YAA Teacher Training and Certification Program sets and maintains standards for Hatha Yoga teacher training and certification; evaluates requests for YAA Certification from other teacher training programs; and administrates its own Teacher Training Program (TTP) which can be taken on its own or concurrently with other studio-based programs offered by senior teachers within the province. YAA Certified Senior Teachers may run their own teacher training programs under the auspices of the YAA TTP.

YAA Certification offers much more than a costly registry service with minimal standards and a cookie-cutter approach to the approval of training centres. In addition to offering a free registry service for all yoga teachers regardless of affiliation or style, the YAA Teacher Training and Certification Program offers serious yoga practitioners the opportunity to maintain high standards of training while following the lineage of their choice. Through the YAA TTP, teacher training students are able to choose their own teachers and workshops and to adapt their learning programs to their own interests and schedules on a “pay-as-you-go” basis, thus offering individualized and specialized training from the best teachers available. Teachers who took training from other teacher training programs across the world also can be granted YAA Certification when they have met equivalent requirements. Graduates from shorter-term programs, or those missing some components, can easily upgrade to meet YAA requirements.

YAA Certified Hatha Yoga teachers are recognized throughout Canada and the U.S., and are leading the way with some of the highest standards. Over the years, the standards set by the YAA have been revisited and revised in order to keep up with the changing needs of the community. As an ancient science and art that has been handed down from teacher to student since antiquity, however, some elements have stayed the same to ensure the integrity of the teaching remains. Minimum time requirements have been set to allow for integration of learning in a two-year mentorship with an experienced and qualified Senior Teacher, which includes regular classes and practice teaching. Along with the training on the components of asana technique, anatomy and special needs considerations and modifications, there is a strong emphasis on the philosophy behind the form, as well as training in the advanced practices of pranayama and meditation. The Senior Teacher workshop requirements allow for a breadth of knowledge and an introduction to other styles and forms.

The current requirements for YAA Certification are listed on the following pages:

200-Hour Teacher Training Program

Equivalency Certification Program (for teachers trained through other programs)

Advanced Training Levels (500-, 750-, and 1,000-Hour Levels)

The Yoga Sutras call for steady practice over an extended period of time, along with devotion, discipline, deep understanding and faith. The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as skill in action. Yoga teachers and yoga teacher training should exemplify these qualities. If you are a yoga teacher who has not yet applied for YAA Certification, or if you are considering yoga teacher training, are you ready to step up to the challenge?

For more information email cert@yoga.ca.

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