Nowadays it is so easy to find a yoga studio or a place that offers yoga, but to find the right teacher, the right fit for you is so important - you are spending an hour or more with the teacher a day, maybe 3 or more times a week.
During our yoga teacher training we often ask our trainees why they started and continued yoga, what they feel students are looking for in teachers, and really what makes a yoga teacher a great yoga teacher. There are countless answers. I have named just a few here.
The yoga teacher does not just come and teach the same routine. They remember you asking for help and they design a class based on that feedback. They are passionate about yoga and they want to inspire others. They create new themes and sequences as another opportunity for your muscles to change and for you to mentally and emotionally transform. They co-create a class with you based on what they observe, even if they have a lesson plan.
2. Humility & Humour
They can laugh at their own mistakes, even if they got left and right wrong and had to say: “extend your OTHER leg up”. They don’t give you the evil eye because you walked in 3 minutes late but they smile because they are happy you at least came to do yoga that day. Their underlying motto is: “How can I help you?” They make you look at life with a new perspective and they show you poses that challenge you in a safe way, instead of showing off their skills. They are a student of yoga and you regularly see them taking other yoga classes so they too can learn and grow. They do not feel like they have all the answers and can say: “I don’t know.”
They care about you - what injuries you have, what you are working on, what is happening in your life. Granted there are many students so it may be challenging to know every person on a deeper level but you can tell when a teacher cares even when they smile at you (genuinely, of course). They make eye contact. If you are the person in the far corner of the room, you still feel a part of the class, no matter how big the class is. They encourage you when you are getting something they said or when they notice how hard you are working. They encourage you when things get challenging. They show you modifications if you need help. They do not just arrive and then immediately leave after their class, instead they stop to chat with you before and after class because they care about you as a person. They are also real! Sometimes caring is seen as the fake kindness all the time, but a person that genuinely cares will also tell it like it is - this helps us to grow.
4. Can Get Personal
They are able to open up about themselves, their practice, how they use yoga to help themselves. You as a student can connect with them more because of this. Have you ever been to a class where the teacher spurts off a sequence, their routine and says the SAME dialogue? There lacks a spark. Great teachers share a part of themselves when they teach - obviously not sharing all their problems (TMI everybody - where it becomes a therapy session for the teacher). They are real. What you see is what you get. They are not teaching one minute about moderation and a healthy lifestyle and the next they reek of cigarettes and alcohol when you bump into them at the mall.
5. Every. Thing. Counts
A great teacher doesn’t make adjustments for the sake of making adjustments. A great teacher doesn’t talk for the sake of talking - every word counts. The silence is just as important as the talking. They prepare a class with the intention to serve you and knowing that that hour is very important for the student.
Ultimately, it is the individuality of the teacher that students are attracted to and why they choose to do a yoga class over and over again with the same teacher. There is just “something” special about that teacher.
I would love to hear your comments on what you feel makes a great yoga teacher and what you look for. Please keep it real and positive! Cheers!