What makes a good yoga teacher?

I came upon yoga journal’s article about what makes a good vinyasa yoga teacher and it made me think about what I would like in a yoga teacher and what I might hope to be as a teacher myself. My day job is currently teaching too, but instructing someone how to move their body without moving mine is a whole different ballgame!

Yoga journal listed three qualities and here is my take on them.

“1. Someone with the proper training.

… has a really good yoga teacher of their own as well as a consistent personal practice. “

Yes! I would want my teacher to be knowledgeable about what they are teaching, and having their own personal practice, they will know what each asana entails, the difficulties students might face when going into a pose. I myself struggle with my knowledge of my own anatomy and how I might move in a yoga class, so having a teacher who knows the ins and outs of the yoga practice and how their sequence might activate the different chakras or ignite the different energies will be important too! I wouldn’t want to come out of an evening yoga class feeling so energized that I cant sleep that night!

“2. Someone who cares about their students.”

 

and

“3. Someone who is willing and able to consider the group and make adjustments.

…A good teacher should be experienced enough to assess the group that is in front of them and have the skill to make the necessary adjustments to give everyone a fun, challenging, safe, and enlightening experience… also considers the individuals in the room — beginners, those who are pregnant, those who have injuries — and chooses something that everybody can gain insight from.”

I think 2. and 3. comes together. If you care about your students, shouldn’t you be willing to make adjustments for them?

I’d like to share a story that taught me a lot about being a caring teacher.  I don’t mean to bad mouth anyone, but I just feel like I learnt quite a lot about the things I will not do as a yoga teacher from this particular course I attended before. For this particular session, I was probably not in the right frame of mind, as I did not feel warm enough and hence was already thinking that I am going to injure myself doing the quite intermediate stretches. I guess, already there was some frustration and negative feelings in me. But then, in one of the stretches, I happened to turn my head and see the older folks who are at the back of the room, struggling and rubbing their knees with their faces in pain. I felt quite shocked and even more frustrated to see that. Granted it was an intermediate class and so, the asanas the instructor was trying out was probably more challenging, but to see that older people could be injuring their knees really affected me. I know knees are quite fragile areas and can take a very very long time to heal, even more so when you’re in your late 40s-early 50s.

What I learnt from this is that I want to be a yoga teacher who is knowledgable enough to assess what students can or cannot do in the class, when is it right to push them to overcome their mental barrier towards an asana, and when adjustments should be made for them to get towards the pose, but not injure them horribly in the process. So many people come to yoga to find a solution to their pain and body problems that it feel somewhat like a betrayal when they come to a yoga class to get even more injured.

My philosophy as a teacher(in my day job), I think, will carry over to when I maybe someday become a yoga teacher. Everyday, I let students try out and continue to test their boundaries. Sometimes, they fail and some times they succeed. But my philosophy is always to create a safe learning environment for them to try things out and push themselves to learn more about their limits.

 

Aini Az,
200hr TTC(Weekend)