A colleague was looking at taking a 300 hour program online. My critical analysis started to organize the most common pitfalls of this type of education.
1. Tradition: Yoga is a traditional practice that has been passed down from teacher to student orally for thousands of years. Learning from a teacher who has a deep understanding of the tradition can help you connect more deeply with the practice.
2. Outdated: Recorded yoga material is outdated within a year of recording. I’ve experienced it with my own recordings. The information provided could be inaccurate or even harmful. The world is changing, and good teacher is a good student. They have an attitude of curiosity and humility as they constantly learn and grow.
3. Personalized guidance: A teacher can tailor the practice to your individual needs, considering any injuries, limitations, or unique aspects of your learning style. They can also offer modifications and variations to suit your body and style of learning. Online programs can be overgeneralized and lack inclusivity.
4. Feedback: A teacher can provide feedback and guidance on your progress. If you do not receive constructive feedback regularly, you may risk over-confidence or under-confidence in your teaching. Learning is an art and science.
5. Lack of human connection: The human element is an essential part of yoga. Online connection can’t replace the benefits of a real-life teacher who can offer guidance, support, and personalized adjustments. In yoga, there is a term called “Darshan.” It refers to the presence of a teacher that enlivens a student’s practice. Darshan is developed by long and dedicated practice and understanding.
6. Community: Part of yoga is the community of like-minded and diverse-minded individuals that create a special cohort or community. This aspect of training is essential for growth and a sense of safety known as containment so students can experience the vulnerability of success and failure that is essential to growth and personal development.
7. Motivation: Self-paced online courses can often be something to get through. Instead of deep contemplative experiences, one can overlook important information or worse, wisdom just to get a certificate completed. Yoga is meant to be inspiring, enjoyable and at a pace that suits one’s personal learning style.
8. Over-reliance on technology: Yoga is a personal practice that requires a mind-body connection. Relying too heavily on technology or what you can learn from a video recording, or a reading could disconnect students from their inner wisdom and intuition reducing yoga to an idea rather than a nuanced experience.
9. Safe practice: A teacher can ensure that you are learning postures, meditation, and knowledge correctly and safely. They can refine and adjust to prevent injuries physically, spiritually, and mentally. Safety can maximize the benefits of in-person feedback.
10. High level education: A good education requires creativity, thoughtful programming and reciprocal relationship between a student and teacher. There are many articles on the art of learning and how to teach well. Online pre-recorded videos are one of the least effective for deep learning especially in an area of embodiment knowledge like Yoga.
Lucy has led over 50 Yoga Teacher Trainings and has been taught in an ancient tradition. She took her master’s in education after her first time as a teacher trainer when she recognized there is an art to teaching. She wanted to become better and understand how to best serve students. See her trainings here.