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Professionals with Heart and Soul
Teaching Yoga in the
"Yoga Boom"

Fall 2000

by Shobhan Richard Faulds


Over the last decade, yoga has clearly become a citizen of the world. More people are practicing yoga than ever before, an estimated 12 to 18 million in the U.S. alone. This is good news, as we all know that yoga not only improves the quality of people's lives but also initiates a profound transformative process in those who practice regularly. As yoga brings people back in touch with themselves, their values and lifestyles naturally change. They treat one another more kindly; they walk a little more gently on the earth. The future of our planet is brighter with more yoga in it.

As yoga teachers during what's been called a "yoga boom," we're living in interesting times. A whole new world is opening up, bright with opportunity. At the same time, the once-solid ground underfoot is shaking. As regulatory laws and teacher certification standards change, each of us is faced with the task of defining our identity as a yoga professional.

Precisely because of its holistic approach, yoga has many applications in today's world. That's one of the reasons it's become so popular. Yoga students looking to get in shape see their teachers as fitness professionals. Students seeking personal empowerment may view yoga as a form of body-centered alternative therapy. Those interested in deepening their relationship with the divine might think of their teacher as a sort of minister. And all of these students could be practicing on adjoining mats in the same yoga class!

As teachers, we also have different interests, aptitudes and levels of experience. Many of us are generalists, offering basic yoga instruction to beginning and intermediate practitioners. Some of us have developed specialties, like teaching yoga to specific populations such as children or seniors, using yoga as a therapeutic healing modality within the health care system or teaching yoga in corporations as a tool for stress management. Some of us are running our own studios and overseeing the work of other teachers. While we all offer our skills in a common spirit of service, the form that takes manifests differently for each of us. Looked at this way, it's no wonder that our legalistic society doesn't know how to pigeonhole yoga or regulate it as a profession. Yoga is everywhere, doing everything!

Nevertheless, the process of developing regulations and standards for yoga teachers is moving full steam ahead. In response to that standardization, we may find we're asking ourselves questions we haven't had to ask before. What credentials are required by the institutions with which I now work? What are they likely to be in the future? How do I want to grow professionally as a yoga teacher and what support do I need to move in that direction?

Here at Kripalu, we've been asking similar questions about our role as a professional training facility. The Kripalu Yoga Teacher Training programs are central to Kripalu's mission. We're committed to meeting the need for quality yoga teacher training and professional credentials. This includes continuing to offer both a 200-hour basic training and a 500-hour professional-level curriculum. In the future, we plan to offer a broader spectrum of advanced yoga programs designed for both teachers and depth practitioners. We hope to eventually affiliate with an accredited university that would allow our students to draw from this expanded programming to construct their own Master's Degree in yoga. These are exciting possibilities and we're working to make them a reality.

While responding to the need for professionalism, Kripalu is also remaining conscious of the heart opening and spiritual transformation that yoga is all about. Teaching yoga is not a profession; it's a calling. While complying with the evolving rules of our society, we must also aspire to keep the timeless light of yoga shining in our hearts. Whether in front of a small class at the YMCA, in a conference room with a group of corporate executives or behind a desk at Kripalu Center, yoga is about radiating love and unity in whatever forms our practice and teaching take. Simple but not easy. That's the essence of yoga. Thanks for all you do to keep the light of yoga shining in your community.

Shobhan Richard Faulds, president of Kripalu Yoga Fellowship, has practiced yoga and meditation intensively for 20 years and teaches regularly at Kripalu. He is working on a book about Kripalu Yoga to be published by Bantam.

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Complete list of articles by this author:

Kripalu's Non-sectarian Approach to Yoga

The Path to Tantra: The first in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

The sadhana of Swami Kripalu: The second in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

Yogi Amrit Desai, originator of Kripalu Yoga: The third in a series of articles on the evolution of Kripalu Yoga

Professionals with Heart and Soul: Teaching Yoga in the "Yoga Boom"

Eastern tradition meets Western disciples: Co-creation in Kripalu's resident community

The yoga of communication: Leading groups the Kripalu way

Kripalu Yoga: A path of transformation

What distinguishes Kripalu Yoga?

Facets of transformative teaching

Looking back to move forward: The guru-disciple relationship

Students, mentors, midwives: A model for transformative teaching

The journey from known to unknown: The first in a series of articles on yoga's transformative process

Purifying body and mind

A Kripalu Yoga definition of enlightenment: The last in a series of articles on yoga's transformative process

Mastery in teaching

Swami Kripalu’s Inspiration for Yoga Teachers

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