Come on, Do You Really Have Enough Experience?
Just how long does it take to become a yoga teacher, I asked some seasoned ones. “A lifetime, at least.” “My 60 year old teacher is still learning.” “I’ve been doing it for 40 years and am still not ready.” “Isn’t the standard of mastery that you must practice anything for 10,000 hours?”
No question there is tons to learn in this 6000-year-old discipline –anatomy, pranayama, mudra, dharma, the texts, etc. When you start to teach, you face students all different ages, with varied levels of experience. Some have injuries or conditions and they expect you to be an expert and they are hungry for your wisdom, which can be daunting, even scary.
Ironically, the minimum requirement to become a teacher and face your first class is 200 hours – or 2 and 1/5 weeks. Crazy, right? Several experienced teachers have figured that out and created a constructive way to handle the bridge between training and teaching by creating mentoring programs.
These offer teachers an opportunity to refine their skills by working one on one with the mentor and/or attending group sessions.
Nikki Costello initiated one of NYC’s first comprehensive mentoring programs at Kula Yoga TriBeCa. Participants in her Mentor Practice commit to eight sessions over a three-month term and also take a weekly class so that Nikki can observe their practice and see how they are integrating their learning. Each participant’s responses to a written exercise at the beginning of the term inform the direction for that group.
One of Nikki’s students, Daba Briggs, is initiating the Jersey City Teacher’s Practice. The new group will meet 2-4 times per month and cover topics including asana, chanting, props, pranayama, meditation, and anatomy.