Iyengar Certification Q & A

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Since the workshop with Gloria Goldberg, many of you have asked me about teacher certification in the Iyengar method. I never feel satisfied with the brief answers I have time to give in class, so I’ve compiled some answers here for your information.

1. How many years does it take to get certified?

Because becoming a certified Iyengar Teacher requires you to teach and practice this method exclusively, you need to study with a certified teacher for approximately three years. That teacher can agree to become your mentor. You are also required to teach for two years under the guidance of your mentor. After those hours are compiled, you can go for the first level of certification (which has its own sets of requirements, including finding a recommending teacher in addition to your mentor).

Another avenue to certification is enrolling in an official Iyengar Teacher Training program. Usually found in urban areas, these are typically 2-3 year programs with senior teachers, where you meet monthly, attend workshops and practice teach. If you take that route, you may be eligible to take the first assessment once you’ve completed the training (Introductory I), provided your teacher trainers recommend you. Teacher Training is more structured, which many people prefer.

2. How many levels of certification are there?

The Iyengars assume that you are devoted to a life of practice, and therefore provide over a dozen levels of certification. Each level has a syllabus that includes asanas, reading lists about anatomy and philosophy. The asanas, philosophy and anatomy knowledge build in intensity and complexity at each level. The syllabi also lay out a road map, so to speak, for the teacher to follow in their own practice and in their classes.

You need to pass two assessments and hold an Introductory II certification before you can call yourself Iyengar certified.

3. Why take this difficult road to become Iyengar certified?

Why indeed! It is rigorous, costly and requires years of commitment. I decided I wanted to teach in 1995, and didn’t take my first assessment until 2000. The following year I passed the second assessment, becoming fully certified. And many of you watched me labor to pass my third in 2008. All I can say is IT IS WORTH IT. I’ll tell you why in answer #4.

4. How is Iyengar certification different from other types of yoga certification?

Iyengar certification is demanding. It requires study and an incredible time commitment from prospective teachers. It will take years and after all of that studying, you MAY have to take your assessment multiple times to pass. The Iyengars do not lightly grant certification.

That said, yoga is yoga. Simply defined, yoga means union. And there are many roads that will lead you to the union of the body, mind, intellect and Self. Some of these roads may be easier on the bank account, less rigorous, and don’t disturb the ego’s reign. They may include rest stops, picnics and overnights. They may be more fun too. I’m no fool. I read Yoga Journal. Yoga with my dog? My children? My partner? That sounds fun. And sitting doing asanas with one’s child is yoga. No doubt in my mind.

But to quote Mr. Iyengar, “The hardest road is the surest and shortest one.” And if you have a destination, whether it be intimate knowledge of your body and how it works or the more elusive union of the body, mind and intellect with the Self–the Iyengar method is a no-nonsense approach to that destination.