As with any form of exercise or activity, when starting yoga, you want to make sure that you’re doing everything right. One of the most important factors in how you perform as an aspiring yogi is your teacher, as it is them that will teach you how to pose properly and get the most out of yoga both physically and mentally. Not to mention, yoga is about enjoyment, too, and it’s your yoga teacher that will determine how enjoyable classes are – at the end of every class, you should want to go back.
What makes a good yoga teacher? It’s a difficult question as everyone looks for different qualities in a yoga teacher depending on their needs. However, there are some qualities we consider essential.
Below, we explore the top ten qualities you should look for when choosing a yoga teacher.
Typically, a yoga teacher should be an authority that everyone in the class looks up to and admires. They will be able to grasp the attention of the whole room with as little as a wave of the hand. By having a presence, a yoga teacher instantly instills confidence in his or her students. While a yoga class should already be calm, your yoga teacher should be able to control the room quickly and easily, as well as being able to boost motivation. Let’s face it: after a long day at work or a busy weekend, you might not always be in the mood for yoga – that is, until you begin. When choosing a yoga teacher, find someone that is confident, comforting and reliable as a source of yoga knowledge and insight.
Possibly the most important qualities to look for in a yoga teacher is energy and personality. You want to be friends with your yoga teacher and enjoy being around them. You should feel that you can talk to your teacher about anything you’re not comfortable with such as if you’re struggling with a certain pose, for instance. Similarly, you need a yoga teacher that instills energy in not just you but the entire class and gets you motivated. Your yoga teacher should be upbeat and have a smile on his or her face. After all, if your teacher isn’t enjoying the class, why would you? There are dozens of types of teachers out there, some of which will be stricter while others are light-hearted and, sometimes, funny. Whichever it is you prefer, make sure you find a teacher that helps you to relax and open your mind.
No matter how big the class is, you should feel a connection with your yoga teacher. Throughout the class, they should interact with everyone rather than a few favorites. A good yoga teacher will move around the class and motive every person with positive reinforcement and technique-boosting tips.
It may sound obvious; however, there are plenty of yoga teachers out there that see yoga as their job rather than their passion. You need to find a yoga teacher who loves what they do beyond the paycheck landing in their pocket at the end of every month. Yoga is about improving both your physical and mental health which, in turn, boosts happiness, confidence, concentration, and productivity while reducing stress and physical and emotional tension. You need a yoga teacher that understands the process. If your teacher is a through-and-through yoga enthusiast, you’ll get more from the class.
Some people love to instill their knowledge on others while some like to keep to themselves. You need to find a yoga teacher that loves to teach and has patience, helping you when you’re unsure of a pose or recognizing when you’re not holding a pose as you should. Natural teachers are those that smile when they see their students doing well. As well as the physical aspects of yoga, a good yogi that loves to teach should also be familiar with recent yoga developments and pass that knowledge onto you.
If you’re doing something day in and out, you must be passionate. By passionate, we don’t just mean loving both yoga and teaching, but you need to be passionate about the entire process, including interacting with other people and being an expert on yoga theory, as well as its physical aspects. An excellent yoga teacher should have an infectious passion for the class which will, in turn, help you to kick it up a gear and immerse yourself in the class and, ultimately, boost your confidence and ability.
It is all well and good being able to do the splits; however, that isn’t what we mean when we say a yoga teacher should be flexible. A good yoga teacher should be flexible in their approach to yoga and able to plan and adjust their classes to suit everyone. For instance, if the teacher has planned a challenging class, but then several beginners turn up, they should be prepared to alter their original plan to suit those individuals. Better still, they should know how to communicate both one-on-one and as a large group to ensure everyone is progressing, improving and surpassing class objectives.
Regardless of how big a class is, the best yoga teachers will be eagle-eyed and have excellent attention to detail. Why is attention to detail important in yoga? Because of yoga’s physicality, it’s easy to hurt yourself if you’re not transitioning or holding a pose correctly so, especially for beginners, your yoga teacher should pick up on things you and other people in the class are doing wrong immediately and fix them. Similarly, a good teacher will know how every student is progressing from class-to-class.
Have you ever turned up to a yoga class only to find that your teacher is completely unprepared? It’s the worst. A good yoga teacher should always be fully prepared for a class and know what they’re doing from the minute you step in the door. The general atmosphere should be calm, and there should be objectives set out, which helps you to monitor your progress with milestones. A good yoga teacher should also, within reason, be available before and after the class to answer questions and concerns.
Often, the best yoga teacher isn’t always the fittest teacher; however, physicality is an essential consideration. Your yoga teacher should be physically fit and have a high-level of yoga expertise, which means being able to complete even the most demanding of poses with precision. By being physically fit and a true yoga expert, your yoga teacher will be able to teach you and the class better. After all, in yoga, most of the learning is done by watching someone do something perfectly and then copying.
When looking for an excellent yoga teacher and class, find someone that has most of the above qualities, including being an expert and someone you enjoy talking to and being around. To get the most from a yoga practice or yoga class, find a teacher you can have a friendly relationship with. Remember, the best yoga teachers are those that are enthusiastic, passionate, fit, happy, and flexible to meet changing needs.