According to member Lea Kraemer the Council is helping to preserve the tradition of yoga and stewarding its forward evolution. Here’s how.
Interview facilitated by Lisette Cheresson
Lea Kraemer is a yoga teacher and founder of Prana Mandir Yoga. She’s a Yoga Unify Honorary Qualified Professional, and a founding member of the Governing Council on Education and Qualification. Governing Councils are convening throughout the fall of 2020, and will recommend bylaws for the organization in December. All Yoga Unify members have access to Governing Council meeting notes, and the opportunity to share their ideas, concerns, and solutions with Council members. Yoga Unify truly is an organization built by yogins, for yogins. Become a Founding Circle Member to let your voice be heard!
Why did you join Yoga Unify?
I want to be part of an organization that allows us the freedom to explore yoga as a path to the self, as a path to joy, as a path to health. And I just don’t feel that other organizations were doing that in a way that I felt invited in.
That’s nice to hear. But why would you dedicate your time to the responsibility of creating the organization by accepting a Governing Council position?
I took many teacher training in Kundalini, Hatha, and Vinyasa Yoga over about nine years in the 1990s and started giving my Agni Intensive for Yoga as Therapy in 2001. One of the main reasons I trained is because I believed that the work of Kundalini yoga was phenomenal, and saw teacher training as an incredible opportunity for personal evolution. I really believe that education is a personal process, and, especially for a yoga teacher, a process of transformation. I’ve found that the best ways to create that are through research and by very closely into the texts of yoga.
I think that for myself a lot of other teachers on the Council of Education and Qualification, this has been coming for a very long time. I just didn’t feel that that was being served through the dominant Yoga Alliance model, based on the idea that a teacher becomes a teacher with X number of hours. It’s becoming a more and more superficial and commodified mode that doesn’t really address what happens when people prepare themselves to teach, or even when they really go into their own practice.
Tell me a little about how Yoga Unify is different; how we’re going to address that. What is the model that the Governing Council on Qualification is offering as an alternative to teacher training?
Mentorship is really, really important to us. So again, it’s not just the structure of being in an X teacher training or a Y teacher training of 300 hours or 200 hours. It’s the process of being mentored in evolution as a yoga practitioner and a yoga student. Traditionally, education was more personal and happened through relationships with teachers. The discussion that we’ve entered is a reframing of what supports us as teachers so that students can really find what they’re looking for in their own practice and their own training. That’s the heart of it.
Okay—but what will it actually look like to “Qualify” a teacher?
First, it’s a peer-reviewed process. I love this idea. For teachers, it’s not an organization that you can just give a bunch of pieces of paper to, and then, boom, you’re registered. Through a peer-review process, you can receive help, you can receive mentorship, you can get some guidance about areas that you might like to train in, or vice versa. You can present yourself as a teacher that has really looked at certain areas specifically and wants to help students in those specific dimensions of yoga.
We’re forming this whole structure around what will happen when a student comes in and wants to learn more. They’re able to join an organization where they don’t just pay money, but where they’re actually supported.
What about yoga students who aren’t interested in being a teacher? Are there ways that the Governing Council on Education will support those students as well?
Yes, absolutely. We’re creating a more complete and enthusiastic mode of learning and a less linear and stationary mode of simply gaining certifications.
With all these well-known teachers coming together, who are each leader in their individual lineages, is it difficult to come to agreements?
The nice thing about this group is that we’ve agreed to begin at the beginning. That’s both difficult in a certain way and fantastic, that this incredible group of teachers and practitioners has come together and agreed to have a new beginning rather than just launching and saying, ‘I’m right, you’re right.’ Nobody wants to be right.
In the outer world, there’s been a superficial—and commercial—promotion of yoga traditions as separate practices. The teachers coming together for Yoga Unify are really interested in the aspects of yoga that really allow us to become the best version of ourselves. There are different paths in different lineages of yoga, but they really all lead to the same place.
To learn more about the Governing Councils, click here. Please note that founding Governing Council members have been nominated by the Executive and Advisory Board, and all positions are on rotating terms. As Yoga Unify matures, all members will be able to nominate fellow members to a position on a Council. These positions are stipended, and vary in commitment.