Teacher Qualifications

Choosing the right teacher is an integral step along your yoga journey.  As in all things, part of the equation is finding an instructor whose style and personality match your temperament.  Unfortunately, many students stop here, and will follow any charismatic teacher because they incorrectly believe that all teachers are equal, competent, and well-trained.  The reality is far different.  Many, many teachers lack the credentials necessary for teaching safe and effective classes.  These teachers mean no harm and are generally honestly working to the best of their ability, but lack the quality training and experience that are so vital.  They simply don’t know enough to know how much they don’t know; they’ve dipped a toe into the ocean and mistaken it for a puddle.  So, how do you find depth amid all the superficiality?  It takes discernment, and that takes time, but here are a few suggestions to get you started.

1) Ask the teacher about her experience.  Be specific.  For instance, when the teacher tells you she’s been practicing for 16 years, is she counting from the time she watched a yoga video once as a kid, or is she counting years of regular practice?  Seriously, exaggeration is as common in the yoga world as everywhere else.

2) Inquire about the prospective teacher’s training and teachers.  Is his training program well known and respected?  Was he satisfied after participating in one requisite 200-hour teacher training, or has he continued to attend workshops and trainings?  Does he regularly spend time learning from experienced mentors and master teachers?

3) Ask the teacher about her personal practice.  Does she practice on her own?  Does she attend classes?

4) Is the teacher learning on her own?  Ask her what books she’s been reading on asana, philosophy, or anatomy.

5) Does the teacher give students his full attention, or does he use the class as his personal practice time?  The teacher must constantly be aware of his students, and spend time making physical and verbal adjustments. The ability to modify poses for individuals is an essential characteristic in a teacher.

6) Does the teacher tell you what to do, or how?  Alignment matters.  Yoga is all about the details.  If a teacher doesn’t know them or can’t explain them clearly, look elsewhere.

7) How does the teacher’s sequencing leave you feeling.  Yoga shouldn’t hurt!

8) Ask for feedback from other students, and check references.

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