Yoga is not just physical postures or breathing exercise, it’s a tradition of discipline and basic human ethics.

By Rose Brent

Over the years, I've been fortunate enough to have practiced with some of the best yoga teachers in the world. I've been taught by young yoga teachers and much older ones and teachers of various nationalities and experience levels from different lineages and traditions. I attended classes with "world famous" yogis and those who have taught for 30 years or more without much acclaim. Lately, however, I have been doing some self-reflecting on the search for the right teacher. So what makes a yoga instructor great? Who is the best? Teacher and student is after all a relationship, right?

Most yoga teachers have gotten qualifications that say they are ready to teach, some have sustained serious yoga practices themselves and continue to educate themselves, deepening their practice, travelling back and forth to India (the birthplace of yoga). A teacher I know, is not only knowledgeable about yoga philosophy, history, and body-mind connections, but also returns to Mysore (India) every year to further her yoga knowledge and maintain relations with her own teacher and lineage.

So, here are a few tips to find the right yoga teacher for you:

  • Your local Yellow Pages will list teachers and schools in your area.

  • Your local search engine

  • Ask your trusted network of friends, relatives, colleagues or associates at work to recommend a teacher or school. You'd be surprised at who practices yoga.

  • Call up the schools or individuals who are listed and ask them to mail you a schedule of classes, and any other information they have that might be useful to a new student.

  • Once you've gathered all of your information, talk to someone at each school or, if possible, the teachers of the classes you're interested in. Be sure to first find out something about the school's approach: some classes (like Ashtanga Vinyasa) are notoriously vigorous while others (like classical Hatha) are much milder.

  • A lot of yoga studios, fitness and health clubs offer free sessions. Attend a few classes. Don’t just attend but exploit such opportunities!. You may find yourself conscious of your postures and angles because chances are you’ll be joining an on-going class, which straightaway implies, others will be more experienced than you. Be sure you have some idea of what you're getting into before you go, to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

  • You'll also want to know: the average size of the class (more experienced and popular teachers usually have large classes, and thus less time to work with individuals, while novice teachers usually have small classes but more opportunities to give you personal attention).

  • Find about the teacher’s experience. Get to know about the teacher from students. Hear stories of their time there.An ethical Yoga teacher conducts classes in a responsible, safe, and aware manner.

  • Do make sure that he or she has at least completed a 200-hr registered/accredited teacher training program. 

  • Do make sure that he or she is registered with a Yoga Organisation. For a list of YAA’s registered teachers please view here: Teachers Directory

  • Any yoga class usually includes meditation and deep relaxation. And hence, your teacher needs not only to have a rich scriptural background but a way with teaching them.

Give yoga a fair chance. Keep up faith. Your effort and patience will eventually be paid off in great proportions!

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