Is certification really the “highest” level of an Ashtanga teacher?

At the risk of ticking people off, I want to pose this question.

I saw something on the Interwebs — a listing for a teacher training or a vist by someone or something, it doesn’t really matter — that described the teacher as being certified and followed that with an explanation that that is the “highest level” of Ashtanga teaching.

My hackles went up. The yoga only does so much.

I know it is a simple way to explain things, but it also reinforces what I think is a problem with the authorized/certified dynamic. It doesn’t really capture every great Ashtanga teacher. (Anyone care that Nancy Gilgoff, Manju Jois and David Swenson aren’t even authorized? I know Lino Miele is a different case, but he isn’t either.) And, quite frankly, I’ve known plenty of awful — I mean, really, awful — authorized teachers. Maybe a few certified ones, too. (I know such judgments are subjective, but to that I say: So?)

So I toss it out there for discussion and maybe some sort of conclusion or compromise: Is certification really the “highest” level of an Ashtanga teacher? And, as a corrollary, how much does it matter to you, what does it represent?

Posted by Steve

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Two Ashtangis write about their practice and their teachers.

4 thoughts on “Is certification really the “highest” level of an Ashtanga teacher?”

  1. It just means that the person has been practicing for long time in Mysore with Guruji/Sharat. So it’s about a solid self-practice and legacy. Whether this implies teaching skills and being into other limbs beyond asana is not at all granted. Funny, I had this very same conversation yesterday with a friend of mine, commenting on a Level 2 teacher coming soon to teach in Shanghai and our expectations at this regard.

    1. 1. Certifications are like degrees. Degrees don’t automatically make anyone a good teacher.

      2. What is “level” in Ashtanga? To me, if you are at a highest level, it means you can do samyama on anything at your will. That is, you would have developed the necessary physical and mental clarity to be able to concentrate, meditate on things and see them clearly for what they are.

      3. Steve, i am curious, what made you to think those who you thought awful were awful? Were they in the sense of social interaction, kindness or knowledge?

      4. I think in Yoga world teaching and coaching get confused. People go to teachers while expecting a coach and they end up being pretty hard on the teachers. A coach is a different animal.
      Professional sports is a good example. Most great coaches themselves were not great players. They know, understand the nuances of the game. But not necessarily physically and mentally gifted to have played at the highest level themselves. This, IMO, is overlooked in Yoga.

  2. The level at which one was/is certified is indicated on the certificate signed by Guruji some 20 years ago. That may have changed on current certificates. Anyone know how it is now?

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