“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” — Benjamin Franklin
In yoga, like in other sciences and arts, the best way to learn is to involve in learning. In other words, if you seek to be an architect, you learn by watching and working side by side with another architect. Enter the concept of apprenticeship.
The word “apprentice” (c.1300) derives from Old French aprentiz “someone learning” and has the connotation of someone who is not yet skilled or experienced. Unlike a formal professional training, apprenticeship is an organic system of “learning by doing.” It combines training on the job with related and supplemental instruction at regular classes. It also involves a teacher-student vis-à-vis experienced teacher-inexperienced teacher relationship.
The Iyengar Yoga community values such a relationship and the interactions involved in the relationship. An in-depth relationship during an apprenticeship can allow an aspiring teacher to mature organically as it is intended to provide guidance and support for those who are interested in developing the art of teaching in the Iyengar tradition for an extended period time. See IYNAUS requirement for mentorship.
Shaw (as her students call her), the owner-manager and the most senior-level certified teacher at Seattle Iyengar Yoga Studio (SIYS), is a firm believer in fostering a meaningful learning environment in the community. She offers a year-long apprenticeship at SIYS for aspiring teachers & students who wish to deepen their learning and/or to become an Iyengar Certified teacher in the future. Unlike a teacher training program, the goals of SIYS apprenticeship are broader and more akin to training to become a good teacher by first learning to be a good student.
(From Left to Right: Cecilla, Brooke, Shaw and Aru)
Shaw’s apprentices take regular classes as a student and observe-assist in other classes. Ongoing exchanges of questions and discussions relating to sequencing a class, manual adjustments, prop usage in classes with real students aim to immerse the apprentices in a natural learning environment, rather than a test preparation one as in a teacher training program. Weekly assignments and regular communication through emails and meetings offer direct venues for meaningful and timely feedbacks. Apprentices at SIYS are required to teach a pose during Shaw’s classes and receive suggestions, critiques and points of improvement. (See picture above for Shaw’s three apprentices in 2015).
In Light on Life, B.K.S. Iyengar says “Life is learning.” Becoming an Iyengar Yoga teacher never ends; it is a journey of a life-long learning.