We trust our yoga instructors with a lot. As a philosophy with religious traditions, yoga is a complicated intellectual journey that asks us to understand deep and complex concepts. As a movement practice, asana can be physically demanding and lead to serious injury if attempted in an unsupported environment. Regardless, both the physical and emotional aspects of yoga are often touted as a way to find healing in the body. There are no shortage of yoga practitioners who claim that the practice of physical yoga is what allowed them to cure their back pain or their shoulder immobility; nor whose emotional trauma was soothed by meditation.
In terms of the healing benefits yoga offers, it’s not so different from other traditional healing arts, such as acupuncture or therapy. And yet unlike both examples, there is no central assessment body that reviews the quality of a teacher’s personal education and experience—until now. Teacher trainings vary wildly when it comes to “graduation” assessment, meaning that as a yoga student or practitioner, it is nearly impossible to determine whether the teacher of your group class has been personally assessed for a basic understanding of either yoga philosophy, anatomy, or even a more amorphous ability to hold space. This is what Yoga Unify is changing.
Continuing Education is About More than “CE Credits”
Many yoga professionals insist on the pursuit of higher education for their own efficacy: to bring a greater depth of knowledge, insight, and understanding to their students. Others may pursue additional “continuing education credits” for the prestige. But in either case, pursuing education even while teaching is a crucial part of being a yoga professional. Anne Minter, an adjunct professor at Miami University, yoga researcher, Kundalini teacher, and Yoga Unify Education Lead says that “every profession has a certain vibrational pattern to it that tracks professionals who move through the system. Yoga,” she says, “is in contrast because every entry point is the same.”
In the yoga world, there hasn’t been—again, until now—a progression for yoga professionals beyond a 500-hour RYT. “Yoga Unify Qualification levels matter because they’re a multi-dimensional progression for anyone working in the field,” says Anne. “If yoga is going to reach its power and expression, it has to follow an energy current from that vibrational field, and include sequential steps, like all professions have. So the different lines of Qualifications are the sequential steps that allow us to have fundamentals,” she says.
The Responsibility of Yoga Professionals
Why does this matter? There’s the obvious idea that by assessing the quality of a teacher’s ability, it could lead to more student safety. A teacher who has been trained—and evaluated—in their anatomy skill, for example, will be a more supportive guide for a back-bending sequence than someone who has not. But according to Anne, it’s more complicated than that. Big, real shifts happen for people in a yoga practice. In many instances, it’s the first time that people may have experienced something like that. As such, a yoga teacher may often hold space for both a physical and a psychological transformation.
“There are so many people I’ve worked with where they fall in love with the practice, have a honeymoon phase. They’re seeing things differently, and it’s just a sense of beauty,” recalls Anne. “And then the energy moves in their system as they have a new consciousness, a new subtleness, and the things that were comfortable start to become uncomfortable.” When this happens, says Anne, we need guides to usher people through this science of self-evolution, similar to the way you’d want to have a psychologist or psychiatrist to usher you through those types of healing shifts.
How Yoga Unify is Creating Qualifications
The Governing Council on Qualifications and Education will be first Qualifying the Founding Circle. From there, the ability to be YU Qualified will open up to the yoga community at large. Qualification Levels will be Instructor → Guide → Mentor → Adept.
To learn more about Yoga Unify Qualifications, click here. Join us in the Founding Circle to be among the first to be Qualified, and to be a part of changing the yoga community.