Teacher training in the DC area

The DC area yoga page has become the second most popular page on this site so apparently someone finds it useful. As an additional feature, I have done a little online research and determined which studios offer teacher training and certification. This training component is a sign of a studio’s professionalism and scope of services because it takes a substantial investment of knowledge, resources and energy to pull off a 200-hour (or 300 or 500 hour, or pre/post-natal) accredited training program.

Teacher training does not have to be just for those who want to become a teacher. Anyone who wants to deepen his or her understanding of yoga can take a course. My daughter took teacher training last year at Flow Yoga and only a handful of the 20 students are currently teaching. Another way of doing yoga intensive is the 108-hour Anusara immersion program, like the one at Willow Street Yoga.

Finally, my main yoga shala, Thrive Yoga, is starting a teacher training program in affiliation with Alan Finger and ISHTA Yoga. Two weeks ago I participated in a weekend workshop and was really impressed with Alan Finger’s depth of knowledge of yoga, tantra and ayurveda. He’s an ol’ school yoga guru who traces his lineage back to his teachers: Paramahansa Yogananda (author of the classic book Autobiography of a Yogi), Swami Nishraisananda, Swami Venkatesananda, and Shuddhanand Bharati when they frequented Alan’s father’s home in South Africa. This is a tradition that is different from the Krishnamacharya branch of the yoga tree (B.K.S. Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois and T.K.V. Desikachar) that predominates in the States. Finger came to the States in 1975, founded Yoga Works in LA and then came to NYC and founded Yoga Zone/Be Yoga. His participation in the Thrive ISHTA program sets it apart from most teacher training offerings in the Washington area.

The Finger workshop had a strong emphasis on the underlying universe of knowledge that supports yoga. Alan also integrated pranayama and meditation into the experience. He explained how the chakras related to the whole energy system and why they were essential to understanding yoga. He encouraged questions from the participants and let their interests guide the discussion. His laughter was the mantra of the workshop, punctuating his self-deprecating humor and joy of living.

Most people came to the workshop expecting to work up a good sweat with a vinyasa practice. Instead, we really had to exercise our minds. In the lone vinyasa segment during the workshop (I attended Saturday AM and PM sessions, and went to the Sunday session to take photos), Alan gave two adjustments that helped me correct some bad habits: in downward-facing dog, I was not maintain the curve in my lower back; and in twists, I tended to lead with my head and neck, over-exerting, when my head should be the last element to come into play. In other words, I was trying to hard to get into poses.