To figure out the qualities that make a good yoga teacher, it may be useful to understand the qualities that make a bad yoga teacher! I remember attending a yoga workshop long back where a yoga teacher proceeded to show the hardest and most complicated yogic postures. The postures were perfectly demonstrated but the yoga workshop did not leave me with any lasting impact. Moreover it had a negative effect on my own impulse to practise yoga and put me off yoga for the longest time. I had a feeling that Yoga was something that I would never be able to achieve and master.
Let us look at the reasons why someone may want to try out yoga either in a group yoga session. Maybe they want to be more physically active, want to relax more, improve their mobility and fitness levels and strength. Some may be advised by their doctors to try yoga for stress-related ailments, whereas some come to be sociable and to be in the company of like-minded people. Whatever be the motive, a good yoga teacher can help a person acknowledge their limitations and show them how to move with them and work through their physical or mental issues. Mindfulness and awareness are the key hallmarks of a yoga class and it is important for the yoga teacher to also possess these quantities in ample amounts.
What Makes a Good Teacher
Coming back to our original question – What Makes a Good Teacher? In my opinion, it has to be someone who has compassion, a sense of humour and also makes the learning of yoga – fun and positive. The teacher must have a broad amount of knowledge, be interesting and entertaining and possess humility. Being able to perform all yoga poses is definitely not a prerequisite. He / She must have the ability to uplift and bring balance and to offer wise guidance when required. The teacher must also be able to help the student to decipher Yoga and help it to become an integral part of the student’s life.
The qualities to avoid are self-obsession, ego and over-enthusiasm. Eventually you do not want to have a class where the common feeling is that instead of being taught how to do yoga, the students have had yoga thrust upon them by a preening and bossy show-off.
Yama and Niyama
Patanjali has all the guidance that a yoga teacher would need to conduct his / her business. Yama and Niyama should always be adhered to and it must be embodied in the teacher’s way of teaching.
Ahimsa: To work safely and to not cause any injury or harm. Offering variations and modifications to support you in your practise without hurting oneself.
Satya: Speaking the truth and teaching with honesty and integrity.
Asteya: Running the class with fair fees and being punctual.
Aparigahara: Not hogging attention but giving generously to your students, sharing your knowledge and energy without envy or malice.
Brahmacharya: Respecting others and conducting your class and maintaining relationships with your students in a non-abusive manner.
Saucha: Making the space as neat and clean as possible (including yourself).
Tapas: Being consistent and committed.
Santosa: Helping students be more accepting of themselves and help them to find contentment in their yoga.
Svadhyaya: Practicing self-study as well as self-awareness and encouraging others to do the same.
Isvara Pranidhana: Letting the light of the universal spirit inspiring your teaching and helping others to similarly find it.
Many a times, a teacher can come along who inspires people with their unique thought process and creativity. They have the ability to present things in a new and interesting manner. We cannot always pinpoint and say why their classes are exciting and inspiring. These yoga teachers come across as potently powerful and offer a completely different way of thinking and can make a lasting impact on students. But ever so often it is the simple qualities that really matter – calmness, warmth, caring, being approachable. So when you are looking around for a good yoga class to join or trying to hire a private yoga instructor. Remember it is not always the most flexible yoga teacher who is always uploading new pics on Instagram that you should be looking for. A really really good yoga teacher might just be teaching in a yoga class near you!
If you are looking for a really committed and motivated yoga teacher to train you in private, Wellintra Fitness has some of the best yoga teachers in town who are selected and empanelled with us only after a stringent interview process and vetting. When you hire a yoga teacher from Wellintra Fitness, you can be sure that we have separated the wheat from the chaff so that you can right away start your yoga practice in right earnest and know that you are in the right hands.
Dhara is a dedicated and highly passionate yoga instructor from Mumbai who trains our clients personally as well as in group classes. Dhara also helps conduct yoga classes and sessions for kids (Age groups 5-9 and 9-14) which include Asanas, meditation, breathing, basic and simple yogic concepts to help them grow into beautiful adults. Dhara is also an avid practitioner of Reiki, The Art of Living & Vipasana Meditation apart from Crystal Healing & Meditation techniques and incorporates all of her multifaceted skills into her yoga classes and sessions as and when required. And she also takes time out to write for the Wellintra Fitness Blog whenever she can!