06 Aug What you should look for in a yoga teacher
Finding the right yoga teacher can take time. There may be an immediate connection with your teacher, or it may be something that happens over a few classes…
If you’re new to practicing yoga at a studio (or gym, or park!), then the thought of having someone guide you through a class can be daunting. A great yoga teacher should be able to make you feel safe, nurtured and confident.
The following is what I aim to be when I’m teaching, and what I’ve found in some of my favourite teachers…
On time and prepared
Starting with the most important. There’s definitely been times when, as a student, I’ve been running late for class and have snuck in the door and onto mat feeling like I’ve run a marathon to be there.
But when I put on my teacher hat, I try my best to always be there and be calm so that when my first student enters, I am in a happy and stress-free space. Yoga is about creating space. That’s the yoga teacher’s job. If the space feels anxious, stressed or tense, there’s a chance the students will feel like that too.
My tip: Allow at least 20-30 minutes to arrive before class as a teacher. Some places I teach don’t have a reception or place I can hover for too long without getting bored, but even being there well before my students arrive means I can centre myself before the class begins.
(And definitely aware things can happen and people can be late for various reasons, so obviously giving your teacher the benefit of the doubt if they do happen to be running a little late one day!)
A welcoming vibe
Following on from creating a calm space, bringing a feeling of happiness to a class can make all the difference. As a student, seeing a teacher smile at me when I walk in the door automatically makes me feel welcome.
My aim as a teacher is to make sure my students feel better after yoga, than they did before the class. 99% of the time, I’ve seen that work.
When we smile, our brain smiles with us. Making others feel welcome and included is really important when it comes to creating a beautiful yogi community.
As yoga teachers, we’re really lucky to have a job where we can help fill up your cup. Make your day. So my fellow yogis, smile at your students and make sure you’re going places where you’re getting smiles too!!
Confidence in themselves
No yoga teacher is perfect. Let’s just clear that up.
We pay people and place our trust in professionals to provide us a service that we can benefit from.
Now I’ll be the first to admit, there are some days when I haven’t felt confident teaching. But confidence doesn’t have to be ‘knowing everything’ there is to know about yoga (spoiler alert: that’s impossible). Confidence is trusting that your students will trust you more with honesty. Be yourself – that’s the most important thing.
Confidence admitting you might be lacking confidence is better than pretending…
Encouragment and a feeling of safety
I’ve lost count of the number of times someone has said “I’m not very good at yoga” to me when arriving for class. It breaks my heart. (You can read more about this here)
I believe a yoga mat should never be an intimidating place. And a yoga teacher should always make you feel like your yoga mat is a place of safety.
Regardless of your skill level whe it comes to practising asanas (the physical practice of yoga), your teacher should make you feel like your capable of reaching for something a little more – whether that be on or off that mat.
Pride in themselves
I want to be clear that this IS NOT about what someone looks like. There is no cookie-cutter mould for yoga teachers and we come in all shapes and sizes.
However, I believe being a teacher and being in front of students gives us a chance to show that we respect the practice and ourselves.
On my yoga teacher training, one of our teachers said that Ashtanga Yoga Practicioners always shower before practice, and brush their teeth. Because you sweat during practice, it’s about clean sweat. Sounds weird but it’s something that stuck with me.
Yoga teaching is my job. In almost any other profession, there’s an element of respectability that comes with the way you carry yourself. So put on your best yoga pants and WERK that studio.