Many people are unfamiliar with how students become Authorized and then in very rare instances Certified Ashtanga Teachers. (As of March 27th there were only 47 Certified teachers in the world and only 17 of those are women)
it goes something like this. You practice . Somewhere around 10 -15 years in most cases.
You make multiple trips to KPJAYI in Mysore so Sharath can see you practice.
Then at some point he may grant you Authorization to teach. There’s Authorization Level I which means you can teach Primary Series and there is Authorization Level II which means you can teach Primary and Intermediate Series.
Then there is the next level, Certification. So few people have it that you almost never hear about it. I was unclear myself how it actually works until speaking with Jeff and Recently Certified (3rd Canadian ever!) Harmony Lichty.
Harmony talks about how the whole thing happened in this first Interview.
From living in Calgary with no teachers to becoming Authorized and Certified Ashtanga Teachers with their own shala in Victoria, British Columbia Jeff and Harmony Lighty share their inspirational journey.
Certification in Ashtanga Yoga
Harmony: Yeah, he just told me to apply after back bending one day.
Clint: Like he back bended you
Harmony: Yeah, he back bended me and then said, "You applied for certification." So it was a surprise. It seems like for most students is when the finish Advanced A. Then you are certified to teach third series. But also, it's just his discretion. So it's not like you finish third series and all of a sudden you're certified. He still has to give you . . .
Jeff: A rubber stamp.
Harmony: Yeah. Grant you the certification and give you that blessing. But also there seems to be a little bit of a time criteria, because some people are very gifted and maybe it takes them less time to get through advanced series. It seems like there's a 7, 8 to 10 year time period of coming regularly every year and making that kind of commitment and dedication to the practice.
No Teacher. No Problem. Off to India to Meet Guruji
Jeff: And in 2000, we both started in 2000 when Slow Motion started in Calgary. We didn't really know each other yet, but we were both practicing at this place. Ninety dollars for 90 days, that was their thing.
Harmony: We didn't know each other.
Jeff: No, we didn't know each other, yeah.
Harmony: But we both liked $90 for 90 days.
Jeff: I mean, I was a medic and I just needed something. I was a critical care paramedic and a flight paramedic and there was a lot of stress relief things we would do as medics that probably weren't the best. Things were changing in my life and I was getting divorced actually, and so I knew I needed something a little bit more positive in my life rather than go a little bit harder and fall off a cliff somewhere.
Harmony: I think it was one of David Williams first workshops that he ever gave.
Jeff: "Yoga's all the stuff you can't see." That's David Williams, you know.
Harmony: So he came and did full primary and that was the first full primary class that I can really remember doing. And he talked about Guruji and coming to India. And I just listened and I was like, "I'm going to do that. I want to do that. I have to go to India. I have to meet Guruji. Just right then and there I made up my mind.
Jeff: I got this great job and then I asked for a leave of absence and came here for three and a half months. That was my first trip and that was with Fiona and Julian. Yeah, I knew them already and they were instrumental actually in my full decision around this. Because we had gone and done some Mysore with them in Vancouver.
Harmony: And Fiona came and did a workshop.
Jeff: Fiona did a workshop. Fiona and Julian stayed with me. So I said to them, "What do we need to do to get a Mysore program here in Calgary?" And they were great. They're so accommodating. Julian and Fiona. But they were like, "You should probably go to Mysore." And I'm like, "Best advice ever." And then that just started it.
And you know, this was my first trip and I wasn't a teacher then. I just was lapping it all up. I remember standing in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana and going, "Oh my God, look at these people, it's like a freak show in here." And I actually thought at the time, "I'll never be able to do that." That's the magic of being here is that what you doubt is possible suddenly becomes possible. And it's just the nature of the practice and practicing in it's place.
Harmony: I think it's unique too, because we didn't really have any teachers where we're from in Calgary. We'd done primary series, we'd practiced primary series, but just kind of on our own accord.
Jeff: And there was no one to teach us.
Harmony: There was no one to teach.
Jeff: So that's why we came.
I'm not exactly the easy back bender guy, and so he's bringing me up from back bends and I remember like this solid yoga master come and grabs my waist and he just yanks me up and I grabbed onto his hands and I'm like, "Hah!" And he's like, "Why? Why you do?"
Harmony: He use to give this Supta Vajrasana adjustment where he'd step on your one knee, your left knee, and he'd just walk up and then plant his foot on your left knee and he be like, "Go back." You go back, you feel like you were just completely nailed to the floor. There was no movement happening in that leg.
Blessed to Teach from Guruji
Jeff: Near the end of his life, Harmony and I were both there saying goodbye and I said to Guruji, I said, "Guruji, this will be the last time we see you." And he looked at us. He had these piercing blue eyes and they just penetrate you and he said, "Mm, Correct." And he took off his mala and he just started chanting a whole bunch, I mean obviously we didn't understand really much of it, but it's like he gave that to everybody. The same with way Sharath does. All he wanted to do was bless his students in whatever manner was appropriate. And in this way he was saying some mantras and we were sitting there and it was an amazing, just three minutes in time. It was really cool. Yeah, that was really a special thing.
Learn more about Jeff and Harmony at their website Ashtanga Yoga Victoria
Jeff and Harmony Lichty, founders and primary teachers at AYVic. They are certified & authorized at the highest level, directly from the K.Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute in Mysore, South India.
While spending many years studying in India with the late Sri Pattabhi Jois, his grandson Sri R. Sharath Jois, they also traveled internationally and taught Ashtanga Yoga to students from all over the world.
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