What makes a great yin teacher?
Guest article from Regina Kerschbaumer of Yoga Orchid Yinstitute
Ive noticed 20hr and on line yin yoga teacher training are now being advertised. As an experienced yin teacher – Ive been teaching this style for over 15 years – Im often asked by other teachers what they need to do to become a yin teacher, what books they should read or courses they should go on.
I personally have over 1000 hours of RYT Yin training on top of my 500 hours initial training and I still feel I need to learn more. Yoga is a practical practice, and yin yoga even more so - it is an intense journey and as a teacher you can never stop learning.
Because yin yoga is very much a fusion of Indian Yoga and Taoist Philosophy, a good teacher needs to invest a lot of time in developing the depth of knowledge and understanding that will give them the ability to share this with confidence with their students. Yin postures are slow, relaxing and deep. Holding a posture for 2 - 5 minutes is a long time, and during this time the teacher should be able to explain what it is that we are doing, how a particular stretch affects the energetic body and anatomy. If you aren’t able to entertain your students during the postures their minds will drift and they will lose the benefits of the meditative practice. Bringing physical and biological awareness as well as mindfulness into your yin classes is what attracts the students. They love to listen and learn and it gives purpose to their practice.
A teacher who has only done a short course of Yin Training or is trying to introduce Yin into their existing classes based on a book explaining a series of postures, is going to struggle to bring any real depth to their classes. Students will get bored and classes will shrink.
Paul Grilley is the teacher who developed the yin style of yoga. Paul has been the teacher of all the big name Yin Yoga teachers like Sarah Powers, Biff Mitthover and Bernie Clark. Bernie Clark says in his book about Paul’s teachings "This is the hallmark of a genius”. I have studied many times with Paul and followed his complete series of teacher training immersions and can testify to the value of the intensity that a retreat format program can offer. Training in retreat format is so much more deeply insightful. Rather than going home and trying to juggle work, home, demands of the family/children and partner, one can get deeply immersed into the studies and practices without any distractions.
My yoga teacher trainings are designed to provide a much deeply insightful teacher training program based on the approach of Paul Grilley. As a one week retreat I make sure that I can offer students not only the anatomical approach of yin yoga postures but also a deep meditation practice based on Chinese medicine philosophy and chakra awareness. It also is independently accredited by Yoga Alliance Professionals as either a 60 or 100 hr certification. Taking teacher students away for a whole week ensures that there is enough time to immerse in the practice and learning in a supported environment with other teachers. But even 60 hrs is not enough to make someone into a really great yin teacher because ultimately as a yoga teacher you can never stop learning. The good news is that the more you learn, the more your students will trust and follow you.
Sadly however we live in a world of instant gratification where everything needs to be done in a rush – quite at odds with the principles of yin as a slow practice. But I believe it is the time and commitment that we as teachers put into our self-development which differentiates us. So in answer to the question of what makes a great yin teacher, I would say it is someone who has undertaken in depth practical training with an experienced yin practitioner, who is dedicated, experienced, and most definitely not in a hurry.
Regina will be teaching her next Yin Yoga Advanced Teacher Training on 21st -27th April 2019 in Spain. More details at: https://www.yogaorchid.com/yin-yoga-training/