By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
Independent study for Yoga teachers is our own routine, which includes research and continuing education. Professional development is an important aspect within any field. Professionals from all disciplines seek to gain more knowledge, or to develop new skills in a specific area of their field. Doctors, teachers, business people, and other professionals, know the importance of remaining current with industry related trends and developments. Yoga teachers are no exception. It is important for instructors to stay abreast of any changes in the field of Yoga, as well as to educate themselves on the various aspects of living a Yogic lifestyle as a path to wellness and personal development.
Fortunately, there are many opportunities available for Yoga teachers today. Instructors can take on-line classes for convenience, take distance-learning teacher courses, or seek out a local workshop, seminar, advanced Yoga teacher training, or an intensive class. Since there are so many options, there really is no excuse for not keeping yourself knowledgeable and current. Some certifying organizations give a list of subjects that teachers should research further.
The beauty of independent study for Yoga teachers is that you can study exactly what you like, on your own time, and at your own pace. If there is a chunk of knowledge that you are already quite familiar with, you can skip it, moving on to new information. You can work alone or with a group of teachers, squeezing it in at night, early in the morning, on weekends, or whenever your schedule allows. Independent study gives you the flexibility to advance in your knowledge and skills without causing you to rearrange the rest of your life.
Yoga teachers might consider going into a more specialized area of Yoga. If you like working with kids, perhaps children’s Yoga is an area to explore deeper. Maybe you recently had a baby, realized the benefits of prenatal Yoga, and would like to continue helping expecting mothers. Perhaps your interest lies in the meditation and pranayama (Yogic breathing) aspects of Yoga, and you would like to learn how to help others heal through breath and meditation. Wherever your interests lie, seek out a way to increase your knowledge and continue to grow as an instructor.
Students are drawn toward teachers who are knowledgeable, and can answer any questions or concerns that come up during the course of study. Seeking inner peace and joining the mind, body, and spirit are all part of the basic Yogic philosophy. Instructors will find that they are on a true path to achieving their spiritual goals when they seek to improve themselves as teachers of Yoga. Independent study is a simple, but important, step toward becoming the best Yoga teacher you can be.
As we continue our journey on the teaching path, the pandemic has taught us all new skills. Some of us took courses, which resulted in new skill sets for business or leisure. I know a number of people who studied a second language during the first lockdown. Independent study for Yoga teachers has gone online and the mindset of all organizations has changed. I can clearly remember when online education was new, but now it has become routine and there are opportunities to grow in many ways.
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