A Good Yoga Teacher
I have had all kinds of yoga teachers over the years. However, I’m not sure if I have ever had a ‘bad’ yoga teacher. They all have had their own good qualities. Some of them, though, have had such wonderful qualities that I have been drawn back to their classes time after time. I have tried to gather here some of the qualities which I value. At the same time I am trying to self-reflect and see if I have any of these qualities. Some of them might come naturally to people and some of them can be learned over the years, in my opinion.
I think one of the main qualities of a good yoga teacher is his/her passion towards yoga. The teacher should first of all have his/her own regular practice to have at least a minimum skill level and to enable continuous learning. With his/her own practice the teacher will also get experience and hands on knowledge about how to ‘do’ the asanas correctly. Passion is also needed so that the teacher will not wear out and get tired of teaching class after class, day after day, so that the love for teaching and yoga stays strong.
It is also very important that the teacher is properly trained. Yoga Alliance is an American association which is trying to accredit and supervise yoga teacher training around the world. It is important to me that the teacher has been taught by a course approved by Yoga Alliance and that he/she is registered with them. This guarantees at least a certain minimum level of knowledge, i.e. in asana, alignment, anatomy, physiology, sequencing, philosophy, adjustments, and modifications for injuries, pranayama and meditation. With proper training the teacher can cater to different kinds of students who may have different personalities, or possible physical or mental injuries.
Some of my previous teachers have been very charismatic. This is not necessary an important qualification. However, I think that certain kind of presence is important. It is important that the teacher is able to get the students’ attention. He/She needs to be centered, focused, and calm but at the same time enthusiastic and energetic. It is important that the teacher has compassion towards people, that he/she is gentle, humble and warm and genuinely likes all kinds of people. I think these qualities can be the teacher’s natural characteristics or they can be learned over his/her own yoga practice.
It is important how the teacher presents herself/himself in front of the student. He/She should have a calm and clear voice and not talk too much but just enough to guide the students through the practice.
And of course the classes should be technically correctly structured so that the students can grow physically, mentally and spiritually as yogis over time.
The above is certainly not a complete list of the qualities of a good teacher. However, it is a beginning for me to start thinking of the qualities that I might or might not have and to help me to help myself becoming a good teacher in the future.
September, 2013, Noon Batch