What to look for in a yoga teacher
Yoga and meditation developed over thousands of years ago for spiritual reasons. Now, many people practice yoga for psychological reasons: for a break from their busy mental “to-do” lists, for a bit of comfort during stressful days. People nowadays attend yoga classes to empty their minds and reboot.
The main focus of yoga is to unite the mind, spirit and body through the breath. Your success often lies in the hands of the person guiding you in this practice. How does the teacher you are looking for stand out?
Let’s discuss some of the characteristics of an exceptional yoga teacher.
What I admire most in a yoga teacher is his or her passion. You can tell if a teacher is just teaching to teach or if they absolutely love what they are are doing! Do they take time to talk and answer questions before or after class?
The next characteristic I look for in a teacher is that his or her main concern is safety. Unless the teacher has been working with their students for a long time, they usually scan the room during the first few minutes of their yoga classes to assess the various body types and the general athletic level of the students. When possible, good teachers ask if any students have injuries that they don’t already know how to modify for.
Clear language to describe proper alignment is essential; alignment pertains to safety and not simply looking cool. Strong teachers fluidly convey the directions that shoulders, hips, knees, head, toes, arms and hands should be moving in every asana. On the other hand, there is no such thing as a “perfect” asana and every body consists of different size muscles, bones, fascia, cartilage and ligaments.
Do they walk the walk? Do they practice what they preach? You want a teacher who follows their own advice. Authenticity is key.
Finally, I believe that there is a performance aspect to teaching yoga. The ability to command attention in a subtle manner, to “hold” the space for students– this a true skill. On one hand, an awesome teacher is authentic about the role yoga plays in their life; on the other hand, he or she commands the room like a conductor, safely leading an orchestra, with a confident voice that inspires students to work for to attain some of that integrity, ease, authenticity, compassion, and love that the teacher embodies.