Every time I shared I was going to spend a few weeks or months in India to study yoga, I would face the same reaction: “Oh, you want to become a yoga teacher? That’s awesome, you’ll be a great one!”. When I replied that I did not intend to become one unless it happens naturally, I was challenged by the same puzzled look – why not, don’t waste your time, get a certificate, just in case.

“Get a certificate!” – this phrase could easily become a moto of how our professional society operates. If you have the right certificate – you have the right qualification, hence more trust and a recognized level of professionalism. While you might argue that it is vital for certain professions (I will not refer to the amount of un-professional practitioners with beautiful diplomas), the problem of “get a certificate” is much bigger than that of unnecessary bureaucracy.

This article (in Russian) talks about the absurdity of grading systems in modern schools. It is a system, which is planted in our heads from early childhood: you are either good, average or bad, everything has a number, and a scale of numbers is a limited one. This system creates clear values which help to survive in this  competitive world: whatever you do, you have a goal – to pass. To prove that you are worth, according to the system. To get a good grade, by all means, because if you don’t – you will be declared as a failure. Knowledge and its value, passion for the subject, self-growth etc. come secondary, if they come into picture at all. 

This obsessive goal-oriented mentality possesses every single part of our life, extending far beyond our professional ambitions. Everything is supposed to have a timeline, a progressive career – and a yoga practice is no exception. If you exercise more than twice a week in your gym and speak about it with a little more passion than about a treadmill – you are ought to follow an anticipated “career” path or simply drop it at some point.

It hurts to accept the truth, but I need to admit – it is difficult to find a better product of our graded, goal-oriented society with the need of public approval than myself. Chasing a goal I easily forget the value of the journey, and often the goal modifies itself so much on the way, that I’m not sure anymore if the final result is something I personally wanted or needed at all.

After a few conversations about my yoga studies I started feeling a worm of doubt, slowly eating its way through my head. May be, I do need to get a certificate? Just in case. Because when I come back, people will ask: what did you do? If I say: I did a yoga teacher certification, I will face an approving node and a pat on my back in a form of congratulations and good wishes. If I say: I was just practicing yoga, for my own practice, I’m not exactly sure what the reaction will be – the last reply I got was “you might be having too much money”.

“Wasting” a few weeks without a measurable outcome which I can easily prove and showcase is my personal challenge. When I think of the next two moths to come, I feel that my real yoga practice this time will not be in the form of asanas and meditation. Instead, it will start with me practicing, for the first time, without a real purpose and a tangible goal.

I’ll finish this post with a quote, which is true not just about yoga – thank you for sharing your words in comments, Bira:

I’ve learned to be a Yoga student with monks in the Himalayas for free. Actually, they feed me and gave me money. I gave my first class after 13 years of practice and the realization of the meaning of my own life. This I did. My credential in Yoga is my life and every word I say. The only way to know my qualification is to come to my class in a state of humility and listen.


For me, the biggest problem with Yoga today is to sell the idea that is possible to be a teacher before being a student. This is a lie. To be a good student takes time. A person cannot learn to teach without learning to learn…


Then, you ARE the teaching and whatever you say IS Yoga, and there is no human being or organization in the world qualified to evaluate you.