What Qualities Should A Yoga Teacher Possess?
The 5 Essential Traits Of A Yoga Teacher
Written by Ganga Devi
Those of us who have experienced what it means to arrive at a yoga class in mental and emotional disarray and then walk out 90 minutes later floating on cloud nine, understand the value of great asana teachers. There are good teachers and there are great teachers.
Good teachers will have the technical know-how, whereas great teachers won’t settle but will build on technical skills by infusing them with their soul and heart. So, what exactly is it that establishes the difference? Sometimes it’s hard to pinpoint or put into words. Yet, the qualities and energy that go into the craft of conducting a great class which will not only exercise the students’ bodies and calm their minds but also cause a lasting positive transformation on a deeper spiritual level are distinguishable and recognizable.
The success of a class can be measured by how relaxed students feel by the end of the class. After a great class we leave with a sense of joy, lightness and happiness. There is a sense of well-being which permeates our entire being. This is the result of a mixture of traits a teacher brings to a class including her strength of presence. That’s also the first and foremost of the qualities.
1. The Power of Presence. It’s the ability to be fully present in the moment and to bring undivided attention to the class. A teacher who has imbibed the power of presence will completely dedicate herself to her students and their practice during class. She will be with you – in the truest sense. She will see even the tiniest of moves and will be able to quickly instruct according to the required needs of each student. She will provide modifications where and when necessary and correct/adjust in a timely manner. However this presence or awareness is not just limited to the yoga class. Great yoga teachers will possess a high degree of awareness and apply it to their own lives. Their lives may not be perfect but they will be conscious of their choices and actions, which then provides them with the ability to recreate and revisit the choices which did not serve them well. The presence they carry in their lives will allow them to also be present for others and see themselves and others through the lens of compassion.
2. The Power of Intuition. A great yoga teacher will teach from a place of intuition and will emphasize the importance of how you feel in a pose rather than how you look in a certain pose – this means that ‘form’ is of secondary importance and even though principles of alignment should be followed and applied, it should be done in the service of benefiting from the practice rather than achieving the ‘perfect form’. There has been too much emphasis on ‘form’ in modern day yoga, and not enough emphasis on the content, on developing an awareness of how you ‘feel’ in a certain posture. Every student has an ‘inner teacher’. Connecting you with your inner teacher and developing your kinesthetic intelligence and intuition will be one of the major aims of a great yoga instructor. Such a yoga instructor teaches independence, so that one day, when he won’t be around you can rely on yourself and be strong in your own personal practice.
3. Practicing, Then Teaching. They lead happy and healthy lives by practicing what they teach. A great yoga instructor will not just be a teacher, but will be firmly established in the practice. He will be an ardent yogi himself. Whatever practices such a teacher passes on, he has incorporated them into his own life and teaches from experience rather than sharing purely bookish knowledge. He will be passionate and enthusiastic about the practices simply because he has experienced the benefits for himself and gained deep insight into the ways in which the yogic practices transform lives.
4. Connecting With People. A great yoga teacher will connect with people. She will be genuinely interested in others. A student will never be just a number for her, but a human being – with all the struggles and joys, the pain and pleasure, the ups and downs that are a part of life. Such a teacher will find the time to listen to her students and answer their questions and will ultimately help them to connect with their own essence, their inner voice and being, so they can be guided towards leading more meaningful lives.
5. Patience. A teacher who is in touch with her heart will be patient and calm and will carry the class along in a smooth, warm flow and never create any feelings of tension or inadequacy in her students’ minds. She must be able to relax her students completely. This also means that she will put her ego aside for the time being and stand fully in the service of yoga. Then the practice itself will take care of the class and the yoga will be allowed to work on the bodies and minds of the students. Yoga can then heal the minds and bodies of those who have entrusted themselves to its practice.
Ready to take your practice to the next level?
On our yoga teacher training courses we devote considerable time to the methodology of teaching and you will be given plenty of time to develop your teaching skills before facing the real world. We will also help you find your voice as a teacher and teach you how to sequence great classes.
If you have considered taking your yoga practice to the next level and becoming a yoga teacher you may want to check out our yoga teacher training courses.
Most of our classes are held outdoors in nature, while overlooking the Himalayan mountains. We offer shared, triple and double accommodation. Click here to read more about our training course in India this autumn.
The majestic Himalayas have been a place attracting yogis for thousands of years. We are offering an authentic experience which is styled after the ancient gurukula system. Find out more about our course curriculum
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We have recently upgraded our premises, the ashram site in Ropa, a small village tucked away in a tiny valley and surrounded by snow-capped mountain tops. In the images below you can see our newly built meditation and practice hall on the 2nd floor, where we hold our satsang sessions and theory classes and further below our outdoor yoga practice space and the view from the same.