In contrast with the familiar list of teachers on ashtanga.com, this list as of today (August 14 2008) primarily lists certified teachers (not authorized teachers), or a fraction of the total.
The new list on the AYRI site comes with a change in the standards for being listed. To be listed, the website states:
[Teachers] should maintain a yoga room or shala to allow for daily, preferably morning, Mysore-style practice and should honor Saturdays and the full/new moon days as rest days.
In addition, it seems that the requirements for keeping the authorization to teach are being significantly tightened. For example, teachers are asked to :
- return to India every year and half to study for 2 months
- have a shala for daily classes
- refrain from teaching on traditional rest days such as Moon days
- refrain from teaching any series beyond the primary series
- refrain from teaching workshops
These requirements look like an attempt to raise standards and the quality of teaching. Perhaps it is due to the notable increase in students and teachers in the past 5 years (we wrote about how the number had at least doubled back in 2006). To me, these changes raise questions about the essence of Ashtanga yoga.
What effect will these new requirements have on the quality of teaching of Ashtanga yoga across the world?
In my opinion, in many ways this is a step in the wrong direction for Asthanga yoga.
Asking for a trip to India every 18 months for two whole months puts a heavy burden on new parents and on those with fewer financial means.
Workshops provide benefits for both teachers and students, and are a key part in building the worldwide Ashtanga community.
Asking teachers to forgo the extra income from workshops may make it impossible for a lot of them to return to India so frequently, since ironically it is often these very workshops which give the teachers the means to return to do so.
Personally, a lot of what I have learned about Ashtanga yoga is directly due to taking workshops with authorized teachers. Had these requirements been in place when I was starting my yoga journey, I would not have had the amazing opportunities to learn from such talented teachers.
Hundreds of dedicated teachers have devoted their lives to teaching ashtanga yoga. They have made enormous sacrifices to become authorized. It seems unfair to change the rules so drastically and abruptly. The standards are changing in a way that may make it impossible for a lot of teachers to continue teaching as authorized teachers.
In addition, raising the standards in such a way that few teachers meet them could have the perverse effect of lowering the quality of teaching because they become meaningless.
These changes do not seem to be in the interest of the Ashtanga yoga community, and in the continued spreading of this wonderful practice.
These are my initial thoughts and I wrote this because I care deeply about the practice. I welcome your opinions on this important matter.