Within an unregulated industry the rigorous and professional approach of Iyengar yoga teacher training is a shining light.
It seems that there is a myriad of yoga teacher training courses on the market. Yoga is an unregulated industry. There is nothing to stop someone declaring themselves a yoga teacher and hanging out their yoga teacher shingle.
One important factor that distinguishes Iyengar yoga from other styles of yoga is its rigorous teaching standards and the professional certifying process that exists within the Iyengar community both here in Australia and throughout the world.
Unlike a lot of other teacher training courses where previous yoga experience does not seem to matter, to take part in an Iyengar yoga teacher training course requires class attendance regularly for a minimum of three (3) years, or to have attended a minimum of three hundred (300) hours of classes, and have established a regular personal practice.
Since 1987 the BKS Iyengar Yoga Association of Australia (BKSIYAA), through its Certification Committee, has been administering the certification of Iyengar Yoga teachers in Australia. This certification process maintains the precision and integrity of the Iyengar Yoga community, and offers teachers a clearly identifiable professional development path. This is a progressive process consisting of five levels of certification which reflect the teacherâ€™s commitment and responsibilities. The five levels are:
Intermediate Junior (Levels I, II and III)
Intermediate Senior (Levels I, II and III)
Advanced Junior (Levels I, II and III)
Advanced Senior (Levels I, II and III).
Each of these levels has a specific syllabus of asanas and pranayamas.Â To progress a teacher must, at an assessment, meet the standard of practice and teaching appropriate for the level.
Just to attain Iyengar certification at the Introductory level requires attendance of 300 hours of a recognised teacher training course and 100 hours of assisting and adjusting with their teacher trainer. To become a certified teacher at this level the candidate has to satisfactorily complete an assessment process involving a written examination, the presentation of a two hour practice, and a thirty (30) minute teaching segment in front of a panel of recognised assessors.
The Australian Iyengar community has programmes with recognised teacher trainers that are conducted under the Associationâ€™s guidelines either as an apprenticeship or organised in a course format. At the Central Yoga School a teacher training course is run by James along the lines of an apprenticeship rather than a course format, and the teacher trainees meet for a session for four (4) hours on the third Saturday of each month.
It is important to note that in Iyengar yoga teachers are certified, not just registered. In Australia there exists organisations such as Yoga Australia and Yoga Alliance, however they are not certifying bodies. They register teachers as having completed 200 or 500 hours of study. That training can vary widely and is not really monitored in any thorough or systematic way.
At least when attending an Iyengar yoga class the student (and any aspiring teacher) can be assured that they are in competent hands.