Many are called, few are chosen

Every major yoga center in the DC area has at least a 200-hour teacher training program, and some even go up to 500 hours.

The Washington Post D.C. yoga lovers train to become teachers:

Even considering the growth of yoga across the country, few places are as consumed with yoga as the Washington region. The North American Studio Alliance, a trade group of sorts that is better known as NAMASTA, estimates that the number of yoga professionals has grown by more than 200 percent here in the past five years.

Photo: two yoginis get deeper into a pose
At Desiree Rumbaugh's workshop at Thrive Yoga in March -- Marylou McNamara (pushing on the legs of the other yogini) is one of my favorite teachers

Granted, not all the people who’ve taken training want to become yoga teachers. Instead, they use the courses as a kind of yoga immersion to dig deeper into the discipline and understand the cultural and spiritual framework, as well as the physical implications of yoga poses. Others are thinking of just teaching in the evenings or weekends as extra cash or for the sense of fulfillment.

A local yoga studio owner told me once that there are many yoga instructors in the DC job market, but few good ones, those who can be more than drill sergeants, who can set the right tone in class and sustain it for 60-90 minutes. Others get frustrated that their students can’t handle the poses (the false goal of perfect alignment) and the pace and just alienate the clients. At most studios, you have a core of teachers plus a constantly rotating cast of “try-outs.”

I’ve seen how much effort my own daughter puts into her yoga classes, and the pay is not that good when you consider travel, prep time and insurance costs. The best time slots for classes are given to the veteran teachers who have earned a following and can put mats in the studio. But there are new options opening up, such as teaching in corporate offices, in schools, in senior centers, in public health programs, so I may be underestimating the demand for freshly graduated yoga instructors.

At different times, I’ve thought about taking teacher training, but it requires a major commitment of time, energy and money. Right now I am just commited to my 40-day challenge to get me back into the flow. The City Paper comments on the fluffiness of the Post story.


After I posted this note, I read Carol Horton’s blog entry entitled In Praise of the Local Yoga Teacher. She makes a lot of relevant points about yoga teaching in America and closed by paying homage to the no-big-name teachers who lead extraordinary classes in run-of-the-mill studios:  “Who really want to share the best of what they’ve experienced through their own asana practice with others. Who know that they don’t understand what this gift means, but know that they care about sharing it. Thank you.”