“For a yogi, the body is the laboratory for perpetual experiment and research“
– BKS Iyengar
In Iyengar yoga the path to becoming a teacher is through mentorship, and not through a limited training programme. This requires a committed approach over several years with regular personal practice, as well as the structured study of teaching methods.
What is mentorship?
Mentorship means working closely with a teacher, who acts as a guide on your personal journey towards certification and maturation as a teacher.
The path to becoming a teacher is a long one that requires commitment over a number of years. It is not possible to take a quick route to be certified as a teacher in the Iyengar lineage – you cannot simply take a teacher training course over a few weekends – or even months. In the Iyengar tradition we firmly believe that in order to understand Yoga you need practice over a longer period and to be strongly rooted in the yogic tradition.
The long road to mature practice
In the Iyengar tradition we think of ourselves as beginners for, at least, the first twenty years of our practice. Over these first twenty years we begin to understand that yoga is more than just exercise, it opens a door that allows us to view our inner-self without the constraints modern society imposes on each of us.
Fortunately, the path to certification as a teacher is a little shorter than these twenty years. In the Iyengar tradition we feel it is possible to begin to guide others (to teach others) after six years of practice. The first three years you practice yoga on a personal journey, and then – having decided you have an inclination to teach – you must find a mentor who is willing to take you on and work with you. You will work closely with this mentor for, at least, another three years before being assessed as an Iyengar yoga teacher.
The mentorship programme is based on home studies in anatomy, philosophy, in-depth practice of asanas, weekly classes and workshops. In addition to these, you will undertake an apprenticeship in teaching and regular conversations with your teacher. It is an enriching journey leading towards health and happiness.
The Iyengar tradition
BKS Iyengar (1918 – 2014), was taught Yoga by his guru T. Krishnamacharya, before embarking on his own journey (of self-teaching and discovery), which lasted over 80 years. BKS Iyengar was a fierce and robust practitioner and teacher, constantly learning from his own mistakes in order to improve his practice and teaching. The Iyengar Yoga method, as it is taught today, has been tested, researched, elaborated upon and adapted over some 50 years, and is now world-renowned for its excellent therapeutic results. With the passing of BKS Iyengar, the methods of Iyengar yoga continue to be developed (through practise, research, testing and adaption) at Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute (RIMYI) in Pune (India).
While Iyengar yoga has its roots deep in the classical yoga tradition, BKS Iyengar’s mission in life could be said to be to perfect, and understand the effects of, yogic poses (asanas) and breathing exercises (pranayamas). The thoroughness of his research is second to none. This understanding of how yoga relates to the individual at the psychological and philosophical level is central to the Iyengar tradition. It is important for anyone who wishes to teach Iyengar yoga to understand this attention to detail and rootedness in evidence, as well as every day practice. Having said this, training as an Iyengar yoga teacher encompasses all of the separate limbs of the yogic system in a thorough and holistic fashion, giving a solid foundation for practice and teaching.