Continuing the discussion from the last post, there's another good commentary on issues with yoga teacher trainings on Linda's Yoga Journey. The thread following her post is really rich, and worth reading in full. However, one commenter in particular was fixated on the idea that potential teachers should travel to India, and that such travel and study would be better than a teacher training. In fact, I get the sense that this person might even see such travel as the mark of a "serious yoga student," regardless of one's goals around teaching. I guess as I read her comments, my "class privilege" radar went wildly off.
Below is the comment I left in response. There are other things I could say as well, including the whole Eat, Pray, Love phenomenon of well off men and women collecting spiritual experiences, but for now, I'll just leave it at what I wrote.
I think you’re correct that experiencing life and yoga in India could be of great benefit. But I have to say that you’re speaking from a place of privilege here. There are people who can neither afford teacher trainings, nor trips to India, but have all the experience and teacher-sense about them to be great teachers. In fact, I’d argue that much of the American yoga scene is quite classist, to the point where many working class and/or poor folks simply don’t feel welcome.
As someone who has often straddled the class line – having a middle class education, but barely making ends meet financially – I have often felt this rub. I have sat and listened to fellow yoga students talk about their weekend trips to NY or LA, the workshops they attend, the “special” trainings with so and so famous yoga teacher they’ve gotten to go to, the fancy yoga gear they're purchasing – and I think, this is so not my experience.
Perhaps someday I’ll teach. Perhaps someday I’ll go to India. I did scrape up enough money to take a teacher training, which I’m currently in (after over a decade of yoga practice), and have all the skepticism and questions that many have shared here about the goals and intentions of my fellow students and the studios running the trainings.
But at the end of the day, one of the major things I see when I look around is how fiercely middle and upper class yoga in America is. And how deeply capitalism has sunk it’s teeth into this powerful spiritual practice, and twisted it all over the place. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s a hell of a lot more important to me to keep learning, keep practicing, and to bring whatever I have learned to people who currently are shut out of yoga economically and socially, than it is for me to head off to India anytime soon.