They contort the body into unbelievable postures.
There’s an aura of calmness, agility, and grace that envelopes them.
They are the new breed of teachers, trainers, and professionals, who have embraced the ancient Indian tradition of yoga and transformed that into a career opportunity.
We have many people do this, from corporate execs who quit their six-figure salary jobs to home-makers who are living life to their full potential. Yoga is no longer confined to the ashrams of maharishis nor is its popularity limited to hippies and fitness enthusiasts. Today, yoga is an intrinsic part of lifestyle for people across the country, and the growing number of yoga studios and personal yoga coaching classes are a testimony to this trend. Interactions with a number of yoga practitioners reveal that their story is one of getting acquainted with yoga to deal with stress, injury, or enhance fitness, walking out of the class happier than they entered, and then wanting to do more yoga, to finally thinking of turning yoga into a fulltime or part-time career. That’s why it is not surprising to see conversations at Sunday brunches in high-end restaurants or late-evening chats among the older generation, frequently peppered with topics ranging from Hatha and Iyengar yoga to meditation.
And, with the International Yoga Day giving further impetus to the popularity of yoga, yoga is being touted as the new currency for fitness. Many say, that this has also translated into greater enthusiasm to take up yoga as career.
And, why not?
Yoga as a career, either part-time or full-time, has many benefits. Experienced yoga instructors say that becoming a yoga teacher benefits them as much as anyone else. The natural progression of becoming a yoga teacher is that it enhances your skills further and takes your yoga practice to higher levels with advanced techniques. It helps develop patience, strength, and persistence, thereby strengthening inner confidence. Teaching yoga also gives a sense of personal satisfaction as you are able to pass on the benefits of yoga to others, see the transformation it brings to their health, energy levels, fitness and mental strength. Guru Syed Pasha, who teaches yoga for the differently-abled, says, “Yoga is about equality, equity, and empowerment. For people with any form of disability – be it through birth defect, an accident, disorder, or even cognitive disability – yoga simply gives them confidence; it brings out their outstanding abilities – their inner strength.” Guru Pasha’s wheelchair-bound students perform shirshasana and mayurasana, two of the most difficult asanas or postures, on wheelchairs. Guru Syed Pasha, says, “The wheelchair becomes part of the body. It opens their physical and mental blockages, which tells them not to feel disabled. It really does transform the way they look at life; it makes them independent.”
And, being a certified yoga instructor comes with the ability to take your career wherever you travel. The scope of yoga as career is a wide canvas – from opportunities to work in nature resorts to schools to fitness centres to your own studios to even becoming personal yoga instructors of celebrities! And, there are many like Sarvesh Shashi, who have been able to tap this growing interest. Undergoing intensive training under the guidance of a yoga guru, “led him to a path of self-discovery,” says the 23-year-old. And, the interactions with the yoga guru is what led him to start – Zorba: A Renaissance Studio. The venture has construed disciplines like zumba, yoga, aerobics, meditation into novel training programmes that offer 14 different forms of yoga, 12 forms of meditation, 122 types of pranayama, various dance fitness modules, and dance meditation. Today, Sarvesh’s venture is valued at Rs 100 crore!
Fitness institutes, yoga ashrams, and independent certified yoga instructors, offer a number of yoga courses, from short-term introductory courses, long-term courses, to those for becoming yoga instructors. The footfalls to these places have witnessed a quantum increase, and yoga’s image has changed from traditional and uninteresting to that of being hip. And people are ready to shell out money from Rs 1000 a day to Rs 1000 an hour – for yoga classes, as they consider it an investment for their health and happiness. There are also a few places that offer these courses free in the larger interest of promoting physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
With increasing government focus and growing awareness about yoga, the demand for yoga instructors is expected to grow by about 30-35 percent in a couple of years, according to a 2015 Assocham study.
To enable more people to tap this vibrant opportunity, and bring about a standardisation in the quality of yoga practices across the world, the Ministry of AYUSH has launched a Scheme for Voluntary Certification of Yoga Professionals. The scheme has been developed by Quality Council of India (QCI), which has expertise in developing such quality frameworks based on international best practices. The QCI is an autonomous body that provides accreditation standards for various sectors. The scheme for has been developed by adopting the principles and requirements laid down in the international standard ISO:17024, and will evaluate four levels of competence of the applicants, namely, Yoga Instructor, Yoga Teacher, Yoga Master, and Yoga Acharya (being the advanced level).
That said, becoming a yoga instructor is not as easy as it seems, as it requires a lot of patience, practice, perseverance and dedication. You need to be able to gauge the right regimen for your students depending on their need, age, lifestyle, body, and fitness. You also have to think carefully about the style of yoga you want to teach. Transitioning from a yoga student to a teacher is not an overnight change as it is much more than demonstrating or practicing yoga postures!
Once, you have contemplated on these aspects and are sure of taking up yoga as a career, all for the right reasons, get going. Among the many things you need to do, is become certified. So, log on to yogacertification.qci.org.in, download the application, become certified, and share the benefits of yoga with the world.