Updated: Sep 8
There are plenty of yoga teachers/instructors coming out of a teacher training every year and often gyms or other places don’t really know how to distinguish between different level of experience, years of practice, and/or how many quality hours with another experienced yogi it took the person to become a teacher. Words like “yoga fitness”, “sports yoga” amplify the huge array of already existing confusing terms on the yoga market. I feel that the real meaning of yoga often gets lost or as a Swami mentioned in a video, I recently watched: “The soul of yoga is lost nowadays”.
Quality over quantity
I believe you can find many good instructors in many places (even gyms), but to find an outstanding teacher is more difficult. There are some very experienced teachers teaching small group classes and some not so experienced recently graduated teachers teaching big groups. Don’t be fooled by the size of a group.
I am aware that this list is based upon what I consider to be a good or even outstanding teacher and what I consider as being simply a fitness instructor. In the end, I will include what some people have responded when I posted this question on social media.
How to choose a good yoga teacher?
Is your teacher mature, experienced in life and overall conscious? I particularly like this consciousness to show up in other aspects of life too, so e.g. does your teacher use their car all the time? Does he or she drive from place to place polluting the air? Or does your teacher walk, cycle and/or is taking public transport? It is certainly convenient to have a car, but does the teacher really have to use it all the time? I used to have a car for 10 years when living in Spain, but I still chose public transport to go to the studio, where I taught and only used the car in emergency situations.
Attention to the students or does the teacher do their own self-practice. When practising together, does your teacher look at you? Is it about themselves or about you and everybody else in the class? Does your teacher have a circle of groupies around them or treats everybody with the same attention? Many people are just following you because they need to follow somebody. They are sad souls with no quest for liberty at all. You leave, they cling themselves to the next person, which will be in front of them. A good teacher knows how to awaken the search for freedom and discernment in you.
How does your yoga teacher treat colleagues at ‘work”? Are they aloof or does their kindness show up in how they treat their own teachers and colleagues? Do they speak behind the back? Do they call every other teacher they now when they had some conflict?
Is your teacher just instructing or are both of you evolving? Real love is to help a student to evolve, so a good teacher will not be ego-affirmative all the time.
They are not afraid to have an opinion (and are open to other people’s opinion). An opinion is not a judgement. Opinions based on values are important for change. Thinking sensitively about the suffering of others and being there to support them against hate, greed and violence is important! History has shown us all too often that humans can exploit others all too quickly and to stand up against injustice and abused power shows a strong character. Yoga is not about being passive and agreeable to everything to appear serene, calm, and peaceful. There might be a time when you will have to stand up and be more courageous. Your inside will be still calm, but your outside may have to be affirmative. This is a very difficult path and a good teacher knows that some people will reject this and therefore not like the teacher at all and judge him or her for that. In the end, the memory of a person who stood by you in difficult times and stood up for you will stay with you forever! At least for me.
Does your teacher bring you back to reality and helps you to see clearer? The job of yoga is not to please everybody, but to bring you back to reality, make you spiritually grow. Illusion exists easily on its own with its many shades of clouds. To face reality requires a lot of courage, but only then true liberation is possible.
Is your teacher holding you back? Is it always the same practice, which leaves out all difficult postures? It is ok to be careful and safe, but neither is it good to be overly safe and avoid everything. A bit of risk-taking to explore limits is good and overall to be courageous!
Do you feel more vital, relaxed and rejuvenated? Does the practice of yoga reflect in your everyday life? Does yoga help you to be more content being?
How to find a good yoga teacher training?
Don’t rush into one! The path as a yoga teacher is not always easy and nowadays requires good marketing skills at the same time as good communication skills. There are still some good choices out there, but also many schools and academies which should refrain from it and just teach aerobics!
What do others think a good teacher should be like?
“l look for compassion gentleness and self-love and self-respect l enjoy a yoga teacher that likes herself and contributes to the world in a positive way simply by existing I want yoga to teach who is patient and understand that we are all different and come to the mat with different emotions and physical needs I want my yoga teacher to feel passionate about yoga and the philosophy behind it A teacher who teaches with kindness, compassion, and love in their heart ❤️ Without meaning to flatter you 😊 sincerely they are all the qualities l see in you as a person and a yogi as they are one and the same 💕.”
“Well I imagine for myself if I were to go to a yoga class with no previous experience of it I would hope that this would be recognised so that I would be able to progress... so I guess I mean that patients would be a beautiful quality that an outstanding yoga teacher would have like yourself xx 😊”
Ps. Feel free to send in your comments below (kindly add where you are located) and tell me what for you a really good teacher is.