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Three Foundational Qualities You Want In Your Yoga Teacher

Yoga Resources
by Elise Bowerman

The yoga industry has quickly become saturated with new yoga teachers, Insta-Yogi's, and know-it-all's. As a whole this is not a bad thing. Concern arises when students put all their faith and ability into one teacher... and don't know anything about that teacher - especially their yogic background. 

It's the responsibility of the consumer (yoga student) to know who they're paying for, and why they are valued at that rate for three reasons:

  1. You want to feel good in your body and soul as you learn new things. Newly certified teachers are everywhere. If you're coming to a class with an injury, or in recovery from surgery or therapy, or healing an emotional trauma it is imperative you share with your teacher as much information as you are comfortable - and the teacher must be capable of caring for your needs.
    New teachers are fun and their passion is almost tangible. They make classes exciting with a new outlook as they want to share everything they've learned in one class! 
    Simply keep in mind your own safety, and you can ask where they trained and even what their background was before they started teaching. You'll find many teachers have backgrounds in physical fitness, which supports the physical practice.
  2. You want to know your teacher has the knowledge to guide you. Outside of safety concerns, having a teacher who is skilled in the knowledge of the practice is imperative. With an endless number of yoga teacher training schools to choose from students can pick a weekend course, a two week vacation/training course at a tropical destination, a half to full year course, and even other options to begin their training. Find out what your teacher did, and the length of the course(s.) 
    Someone who's completed the longer courses will have the time and ability to integrate their learning into their personal lives, and/or teachings. Those on the fast track to get certifications quickly will often not retain the information. Plus, their training is so short it will likely focus on one thing: physical postures (which is only one of eight guidelines encompassing the practice, according to Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.)
  3. You want to know your teacher is compassionate and understanding. A solid teacher has and continues to work on their own "stuff." If you find a teacher who is critical, and doesn't acknowledge their own path in this world, then it's likely they will not have the ability to support you emotionally. 
    Yoga is an emotional journey, as much as it is physical. Ultimately it comes back to safety on the emotional scale. 

Every teacher has their own reason they became a teacher. Ask them why they did it? Get to know your teacher(s) so your trust in them can grow. If you found someone who isn't a solid match for you, that's okay! Keep taking classes with different teachers to find a great match. Like I said, yoga teachers are everywhere. Just find the right one for you. 

My next post will be a more thorough tale of my background as a teacher and student of yoga... So you can get to know me better!