How to chose a Yoga Teacher
So you have decided that you want to start practicing Yoga – and there is no shortage of courses and teachers to choose from. If you are wondering why you should bother informing yourself on your choice, I suggest Yoga Alliance Professional’s article on the importance of standards in Yoga.
Let’s narrow down what you are looking for first.
Yoga has become a worldwide trend there is an abundance of energetic or peaceful wellness-promoting teachers out there who offer a wide range of blends with Pilates or other concepts of general strengthening-and-stretching. If what you are looking for is a workout, you need look no further, pick a Teacher ho understands basic anatomy and practice. Nobody keeps you locked in your choice either. Start by just committing to some daily mobility routine. Yoga will still be there for you if you want to delve into it later on. My point here is just to point out that Yoga has more to offer, so if you get bored with the exercise class you’re going to, don’t give up. There is more.
For those, who look to Yoga to give them “something more than just a workout”, it is a pity that all kinds of exercises sail under the umbrella term Yoga – that blurs the distinctions and makes choosing harder. Even within Yoga there are different schools. What combines these, however, is the focus on attention, breath awareness, alignment and, frankly, tradition.
The practical upside of tradition is the testing. People have been doing this for a long time and filtered out what didn’t work.
The emotional effect of stepping into a tradition that is literally thousands of years old is different from person to person. Some will not care a straw – what matters is the Here and Now. This is a very Yogic perspective, actually, as far as focus is concerned. Others will feel deeply rooted and experience a deep sense of trust and surrender. In its deep respect and gratitude this is also quite a Yogic perspective.
I follow the Ashtanga tradition but use props or deeply restorative elements as per the need of my students. I am pragmatic when it comes to teaching – that which helps is in the right.
The following criteria might serve as a help to find a serious Yoga Teacher in your area.
– Your Teacher should show contiuity in their own development. Don’t trust yourself to someone who graduated long ago when you don’t know if they contiued to teach and improve themselves.
– Your Teacher should be well rooted in a tradition and style of Yoga that speaks to you.
– Your Teacher should demand reasonable pricing – that means that getting an impression of what expects you is cheap or free. This can come in many forms, either by way of a free first class, by online material, by a chance to speak to the teacher first or anything else that allows you to assess, if this is for you. On the other hand if your Teacher is the best, he will probably not be the cheapest. Trust your instinct in chosing, who you want to learn from – and afterwards consult your purse. A great Teacher may in some cases even have special options for you if you are in a tight situation.
– Try to find out how much your Teacher knows and cares about anatomy before visiting their Asana class. It should go without saying but anyone who teaches you how to move should teach you how to move safely. Ideally your Yoga Teacher should either display or let you know upon asking that they have been trained in understanding the Anatomy of Yoga Poses and that they will educate you on how to move safely during yur practice.
– Check, if your Yoga Teacher does any voluntary work, or offers free material. See, if they care to share Yoga just for seva. This is not a necessary criterium, as we all must live and not every Teacher has the additional capacity without stressing out, but if they do, this is definitely a good sign!
– Your Teacher should be registered with one of the major Yoga Alliances. While in itself no guarantee for “Your perfect Yoga Teacher” of course, it is an additional security, that their education has included a serious curriculum and sufficient practice.
– Your Teacher should be accessible, that means you should be able to get a feel for their methods, aims and personality, contact them – and ideally see their lineage.
– Ideally your Teacher offers you some education beyond the bare marketing minimum. If they have a website, it offering information exceeding what directly promotes this teacher, is a good sign. Even if it reflects your Teacher’s opinion and not the “objective truth” – then at least you know, their opinion and this tells you in advance, what premises they go by, or allows you to deepen your understanding of what they told you in class.
– Lastly, but absolutely importantly: You must like your Teacher. Yoga is very personal and can lead to great transformations. In order to make this possible, it is imperative that you feel comfortable to open up around your Teacher. Find a Teacher, whom you respect and like and who you feel you could genuinely feel taken care of.