Dr. Caroline Klebl is one of America’s premier yoga teachers and Ashtanga practitioners. Klebl has been teaching yoga and spirituality since 1997, and spent nine years perfecting the art of Ashtanga yoga under the guidance of Sri K Pattabhi Jois, an Indian yoga Guru and the inventor of Ashtanga yoga. Caroline is one of the few yoga practitioners to receive a PhD in yoga from the University of Alternative Medicine. Dr. Klebl has created her own brand of 200 and 500 hour yoga teacher training programs and yoga teacher retreats in her home town of Los Angeles and many other locations around the globe.
During my research on Caroline, her dedication and love for yoga and spirituality became evident. In order to share her passion with others, Caroline has started The Yoga Foundation, a fund dedicated to providing scholarships to aspiring yogis for her world-renowned yoga teacher training programs. I was lucky enough to interview Caroline Klebl and hear her share her wisdom on all things yoga.
Ashley-Nicole Delmar: What inspired you to start teaching yoga? Why do you think it is important to share your passion with others?
Caroline Klebl: I started teaching yoga in Breckenridge, Co in 1997. I had been taking yoga classes regularly for a couple of years and my yoga teacher went on vacation for two weeks and asked me substitute her classes. Starting with the first class I thought, I loved teaching yoga. I liked sharing the benefits of these ancient techniques for spiritual awakening with others. Yoga practice also improves health and increases the lifespan.
AND: What kind of training is required to become a yoga teacher?
Caroline Klebl: It takes several years of dedicated practice to learn yoga postures. Each posture needs to be practiced hundreds of times for the body to move deeply into the yoga asana. Prana should flow freely and deep breathing should be established in each asana. Over time, one can progress from easier postures to more advanced asanas. It is important to have mastered a wide variety of yoga postures prior to introducing the practice to others. In the Yoga Sutras it is stated that yoga creates a clear connection between the individual and supreme self. It is from this perspective that one can teach yoga. Then you can attend a yoga teacher training program to deepen your practice, learn yoga philosophy, anatomy, and teaching techniques.
AND: Tell me a bit about your journey studying yoga and becoming a yoga teacher.
Caroline Klebl: I departed on my first pilgrimage to India to train with renowned Yoga Guru, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, in 1999. I practiced yoga asana with Pattabhi Jois for four and a half months and then traveled to Dharamsala and Kathmandu, Nepal to study Tibetan Buddhist meditation techniques. When I returned to the US, I continued to teach yoga. I taught my first international workshops in Vienna and Prague in 2002. I continued to train with my guru, Sri K Pattabhi Jois, until 2008 when he retired from teaching at age 92.
Sri K Pattabhi Jois was a very dedicated yoga asana guru, he taught hundreds of yoga postures and emphasized attaining liberation by practicing yoga asana. “Practice, practice and all is coming”, he repeated frequently when students asked questions. In 2008, I developed a 200 and 500 hour yoga teacher training program and started to train yoga teachers. Since then, I’ve taught yoga teacher training programs in beautiful retreat destinations all over the world, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
AND: What things did you find challenging when you first started teaching? How did you overcome those challenges and how have you perfected your teaching style since your first class?
Caroline Klebl: I started with drop in classes and didn’t find the dedication from students to teach more advanced yoga postures. I always had to start with the basics and students dropped in only once or twice a week. Over time I developed longer courses and workshops to provide the training which is required for students to progress deeply into yoga postures. Now I offer yoga teacher training programs that transform the students’ bodies noticeably by the end of the training.
I can also impart teachings on yoga philosophy and provide participants with teaching skills. Students’ testimonies have included improvements in their asana practice, as well as weight loss, breaking addictions, reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, and eliminating pain. In the Yoga Sutras, it is emphasized that yoga practice is firmly grounded by correct cultivation over an extended, uninterrupted period of time. By teaching intensive courses, I can provide students with a deeper experience of the benefits of yoga.
AND: Why did you decide to create your own yoga teacher training program? What do your programs add to the world of yoga, or what gap do they fill compared to other yoga training programs?
Caroline Klebl: My yoga teacher training programs provide students with intensive asana training and an introduction to Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga. Once learned, the practice of Ashtanga yoga, can be continued after the training and many of my students have become advanced yoga asana practitioners and successful yoga teachers. My yoga teacher training programs are a gateway into the practice of hundreds of Yoga postures. This creates a solid foundation to teach Ashtanga, Vinyasa or Flow Yoga, Power Yoga, as well as traditional Hatha Yoga.
AND: What advise to you have for making money as a yoga teacher?
Caroline Klebl: One can begin by teaching drop in classes at a gym, community center, or yoga studio. If it’s difficult to secure your own class time, one can request being added to the substitute teacher list. Teaching private classes is also an option. The benefit of teaching at gym or established yoga center is that you don’t need to seek out your own students. From a yoga perspective, in the Yoga Sutras it is emphasized that by adhering to asteya or non-theft, jewels will appear. It is best to provide valuable prices at a fair price.
AND: What are some of the career paths available to yoga teachers? Is this something you can do for your whole life?
Caroline Klebl: You can begin with teaching your friends and family and then continue with private classes and group classes. In the beginning it is important to focus on improving your own yoga asana practice, in order to have a greater ability to teach yoga. One can also film instructional videos and teach courses and workshops to more dedicated students. Practicing and teaching yoga is a wonderful way to live your life and can be continued through one’s life.
AND: What are some of your favourite things about teaching yoga?
Caroline Klebl: I love seeing others improve in their asana practice and succeed as yoga teachers. I like assisting with awakening consciousness in other people’s bodies.
AND: What is the biggest challenge associated with teaching yoga?
Caroline Klebl: Becoming a yoga teacher is a long process. It takes years of dedicated practice to learn advanced yoga postures and several years to establish oneself as a yoga teacher. The challenge can be overcome with perseverance and patience.
AND: How do you inspire your students to bring the spirituality of yoga into their everyday lives?
Caroline Klebl: I inspire students to appreciate the spiritual side of yoga by teaching the Yoga Sutras. The Yoga Sutras is an ancient text that includes over 200 verses about yoga philosophy, ethics, meditation, and asana practice. The teachings of the Yoga Sutras include the preparatory steps of Yama, ethical conduct, and Niyama observances. By practicing principles such as non-harming, truthfulness, and contentment, one removes the negative karmic influences that non-ethical actions have on your life. A vegetarian diet is also beneficial for yoga practice. It eliminates impurities and improves consciousness.
To learn more about Caroline Klebl or her yoga teacher training programs, visit her website at http://www.sourceofyoga.com/