Things to Look for When Choosing a Yoga Instructor
We have all heard about the great health benefits that a regular Yoga practice offers, but if not done with correct posture and alignment that same Yoga practice can offer pain and even injury. For this reason, it is very important to find a good Yoga Studio where you can practice with a well trained and knowledgeable Yoga instructor. One that is not only well trained and knowledgeable about the philosophy and history of Yoga, but one that is also knowledgeable about the anatomy of the human body and the issue that you may be having with in your own body. Below are a few guidelines to help insure that you have found the right instructor for you:
1) Does the instructor have any background in group fitness, personal training, anatomy, etc.?
Although this should not be your determining factor, some of the best Yoga instructors out there came from a long Yoga practice as a student and may have absolutely no experience teaching any thing other than Yoga. If this is the case, once they decided to become a Yoga instructor, they should have at least demonstrated their desire to keep their students safe by taking some training courses in anatomy and alignment. Someone with a background in fitness, on the other hand, will have already taken and have a knowledge of exercise science, exercise physiology, human anatomy and kinesiology.
2) How long did the instructor practice Yoga as a student before deciding to become an instructor?
As mentioned above, some of the best Yoga instructors began as students. An instructor that did not practice Yoga at all before beginning a journey towards teaching Yoga is a sure sign of a group exercise instructor who just wants to teach because the gym is now offering Yoga and the more classes they can teach the better!
3) Does the instructor still practice Yoga, other than their time they spend teaching classes?
An instructor that uses their time teaching as their practice or workout, is an instructor that cares more about getting paid to workout than about the safety and well being of their students. The classes we teach as instructors should have nothing to do with us and total focus and care placed on making the students safe to promote healing and wellbeing within their bodies.
4) How long has the instructor been teaching Yoga?
With experience comes knowledge! Teaching Yoga is very different than teaching group fitness. There should be a place of calm within the instructor. The instructor should also be able to lead a class of differing physical fitness levels and be able to offer every student a safe challenge, with modifications for the fitness levels without hesitation.
5) What type of Yoga teacher training programs have you taken?
This will ensure that the instructor has class room training, hands on training and in some cases, practice teaching and community service hours. Teacher trainings teach Yoga history and philosophy, as well as proper alignment for poses.
6) Is the instructor a Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance?
Yoga Alliance is the governing board of trained Yoga teachers. If they have obtained a RYT 200 designation, this means that they have taken at least 200 hours of class room training. If they have an E in front of that RYT it means that they have at least 2 years experience teaching Yoga. Continuing education is required by Yoga Alliance to maintain these designations, so you should check to make sure they are current.
7) Finally, how does this instructor make you feel?
As mentioned above, teaching a class should have absolutely nothing to do with the instructor and everything to do with the students. So, if you feel like you spend a large portion of the class time looking at the beautiful poses that your instructor can do yet very few students can do. If you leave every class feeling like you have made no progress, beating yourself up about all of the poses that you struggled with instead of leaving with a sense of accomplishment celebrating the poses that you felt stronger in, or if you feel like the instructor is always focusing on adjusting your miss-alignments and never offers any feed back on your individual progress – you may have the wrong instructor.
There should be no sense of competition or judgment allowed, of others or oneself. Each student should be encouraged to shut the world out, spend time focusing purely on yourself, listening to your own body and making modifications when needed to promote peace, calm, healing and wellbeing. Every Body is different and unique so Every Bodies poses will look different. Meaning, there is no perfect pose. There are no advanced poses. Poses done without being in the present moment with Mind/Body and Breath is beginner Yoga – no matter how difficult the pose. Poses done in the present moment with relaxed resilience and breath is advanced Yoga – no matter how simply the pose.