When you’re practicing yoga, one of the most critical choices you make is choosing the right yoga teacher. It doesn’t matter that much what color your shirt is or the exact size of your mat. But the right yoga teacher can be the difference between an enjoyable practice you treasure for years or a short-lived experiment which you abandon after a week or two.
Here are the top 10 criteria to watch for.
1) A Matching Personality. This is going to be unique to you. Some of us enjoy quiet, serious people. Others enjoy lively, laughing people. Give a few teachers a try until you find one who truly matches with what best suits your own needs and goals.
2) Technically Proficient. Every pose has a specific alignment for safety reasons. Alignment matters immensely to ensure wrists and ankles are not twisted or damaged. Find out where the instructor trained and for how long.
3) Able to Offer Adjustments. You want your yoga teacher to be able to watch what you’re doing and to offer assistance to help you do it properly. If your yoga teacher isn’t even going to help you improve, you might as well plunk down in front of YouTube and watch instructors for free there.
4) Sensitive To Your Needs. You do want feedback from your teacher. However, not all of us like to be touched. Your yoga instructor should be able to help you get into the pose in a way which makes you feel comfortable.
5) Familiar with Modifications. Every pose can be modified to account for body challenges. If you’ve injured your wrist, then any poses which involve weight on the wrists should be modified or skipped. Your instructor should be aware of how to do the modifications or which poses to wave off for now.
6) Easy to Understand. Your yoga instructor will be helping you learn complicated topics and alignments. It’s critical for your health and safety that you understand what they want you to do.
7) Patient. Not all of us are great at physical movements. Your yoga instructor should understand that some tasks take time and a different phrasing before we understand what is going on.
8) Respectful. Every student is at a different stage in their path. Every student should always be treated wholly with respect. If a student is having trouble understanding something, it’s up to the instructor to explain it in a way which makes sense. If a student is having trouble with a pose, it’s up to the instructor to modify it in a way which can be done.
9) Timely. If everyone shows up for an 8am class to fit it in before work, and the teacher doesn’t roll in until 8:30am, that’s half of your class gone. Make sure the teacher always respects the students’ time. Classes should start on time and end on time.
10) Professional. Prices should be clear up front. There should never be hidden fees. If prices or schedules change, there should be ample warning of that. If the student is expected to bring something, like their own mat or straps, that should also be made clear beforehand as well.
A good yoga teacher can make or break any yoga practice. Do your research, explore your options, and find a teacher who is perfectly suited for you and your goals.