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Preparing to Become a Yoga Teacher

I'm only 16, but I want to become a yoga teacher. I don't live around any yoga centers so I have to rely on books and Yoga Journal for my information. What can I do to prepare myself to teach?

By Sudha Carolyn Lundeen

yoga teacher

—Deziree Petersen, Delta, Utah

Sudha Carolyn Lundeen's reply:

Great! Many wonderful teachers started their study with books. And your timing is terrific. The need for yoga teachers is increasing exponentially as interest in this ancient practice flourishes.

To become a teacher, it will be important to find a teacher. But until you do, keep practicing and studying! Move slowly into the edges of your stretch and use micro-movements and a steady breath to explore alignment while holding the postures. This develops concentration and absorption. Develop your ability to listen to your body by paying attention to the sensations that arise during and after each posture. Honor your body's wisdom, your hands-down best teacher.

One thing to consider: There are many "schools" of yoga practice (Kripalu, Iyengar, Svaroopa, Integral, Ashtanga, Viniyoga, Bikram, to name a few). At this point in your study, you might want to sample a few of them and see what resonates in your body as well as your heart. Some have home-study courses.

Maybe you could ask your parents for an early birthday present and take a yoga workshop that comes to a city near you. Workshops strengthen the foundation you've been building as well as give you a chance to ask questions and get direct feedback.

Kripalu Center in Lenox, Massachusetts, where I teach, is a great place to take a workshop, and there are scholarships available for those in need. Ask a friend or family member to join you, and if they enjoy it, you'll have an instant yoga buddy to support your study back home.

You might also consider sampling yoga videos from teachers of various traditions. There are many terrific teachers out there who can help you get a feel for the flow of movement and the energy of the poses that you can't get from photos in books.

Sudha Carolyn Lundeen is certified as an Advanced Kripalu Yoga Instructor, Holistic Health Nurse, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapist. She is the former Director of Kripalu Yoga Teachers Association, has been leading programs on yoga, health, and healing for over 20 years, and is a senior faculty member at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. She offers private yoga coaching and specializes in helping women navigate the experience of breast cancer.
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