Teachers wishing to affiliate with the Y.A.A.C must pass a competency assessment test to obtain certification. The Y.A.A.C.'s competency assessment consists of a short written examination, as well as a video submission illustrating competency in three key postures/techniques: Sun Salutation, Side Angle pose, and Pigeon pose. As further clarified below, the video submission is reviewed and assessed to provide safe and effective yoga postures based on the following criteria:
- Knowledge of General Pose Form
- Clear Verbal Cues
- Appropriate Pose Duration
A safe and effective yoga posture is one in which the pose form effectively stimulates the practitioner for an appropriate duration of time. These categories of General Pose Form, Clear Verbal Cueing and Appropriate Pose Duration begin to define what a safe and effective yoga pose is. There are both formal and spontaneous movement practices within postural yoga that will fall outside of this definition. This does not make these practices necessarily unsafe or ineffective, just outside the boundaries of the Y.A.A.C’s current scope of assessment.
Each submitted video test is subject to a fee, and a critique is provided with the assessment results.
General Pose Form
If an entirely subjective view is taken, one could say that there are no “rules” pertaining to correct pose form. Taking this view to its logical conclusion, we could then say that, when performing Side Angle pose, laying on a couch is just as correct and beneficial as stepping wide, externally rotating one leg, and creating a firm foundation from which to elongate and rotate the torso. As far as encouraging strength and flexibility goes, the latter view is measurably false.
Once an agreement is established that pose form makes a difference, then both the form and the benefits of each pose can be examined. Use of props to increase stability, changing length or width of stance to accommodate anatomical differences and any other options to assist the practitioner can be included in the video submission.
Clear Verbal Cues
The voice is the primary means of communicating when teaching postural yoga. A teacher provides instructions, which the student follows. Use of verbal cues rather than demonstration enables the teacher to observe the student’s performance and verify that the student has understood the instruction.
In postural yoga, students are often moving into challenging and unfamiliar physical shapes while the teacher provides cues them. This may cause breathing to become more vigorous than normal, and often the student's position in the room, or position in a given posture, is such that they cannot see the teacher. For these reasons, cueing is most effective when it is audible, concise and direct.
Additionally, if cues are given too rapidly, the student does not have time to physically perform them. If given too slowly, the student may be waiting with some frustration to inhabit the pose form and feel the benefits.
Appropriate Pose Duration
Yoga postures exist within a field of gravity. Working against the pull of gravity and isometric resistance for a period of time encourages strength, flexibility and balance - among other benefits. If the duration of holding a pose is too short, there is inadequate time for this stimulus to occur. Similarly, if a pose is held for too long, balanced muscular action as well as smooth, even respiration are adversely affected. As such, the practitioner may lose the ability to maintain healthy alignment within the pose.
In teaching postural yoga, there must be enough time to cue the basic pose form along with the beneficial muscular actions within that pose. Some practitioners may be able to comfortably hold a pose much longer than others. There is no one correct pose duration, but as a starting point for a healthy student, a pose such as side angle may have a duration of between 30 seconds to one minute per side. Each side should also be held in equal measure of time to provide a balanced practice. Skilled teachers may assess the level of the student or class and adjust the time held appropriately.
Example of Video Submission
Below is an example of a successful video submission illustrating competency in three key postures/techniques for registration with the Y.A.A.C.