For many thousands of years, yoga was transmitted from teacher to student on a one-to-one basis; but recently Yoga teachings have begun to be offered in a group class format.
The minimum requirements for a competent yoga teacher are:
What makes their class different from exercise classes? A teacher of any subject should be able to tell you what they teach. Ask the yoga teachers, in a friendly way, what qualifies their class as yoga practice. You will be amazed at the variety of great answers you’ll get. What motivates them to teach yoga, and purport to teach it.
Who did they train with and for how long? Training as a yoga teacher takes a lot of time and effort. Riding on the popularity of yoga in the Western world, some organisations have tried to train “yoga teachers” in a few months. This is possibly dangerous, and will only give yoga a bad name. All serious yoga organisations involved in training teachers such as the Iyengar Yoga association, the Irish Yoga Association, the British Wheel of Yoga or the European Union of Yoga have a minimum requirement of two years training.
Ask your potential new teacher how they prepared to teach. There are too many ways to practice yoga for there to be one simple pathway that prepares you to teach. Many great yoga teachers are not formally educated, and many formally-educated teachers are not great. But, the teacher should be able to tell you how they prepared, whether it be via a structured course or not. If they don’t have a clear answer that gives you confidence in their knowledge and skills, look for other options. There are many great teachers out there. A teacher needs to have an intensive background of study that includes Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, the Bhagavad Gita, and all world philosophies, at the very least.
A yoga teacher should have a serious commitment to daily practice. A teacher must have this support in order to build the solid foundation of experience that is required before he or she can show others how to achieve that experience; daily practice is also needed to maintain the strength and health necessary for the extra demands of teaching.
A yoga instructor should have training in basic anatomy and the effects of Yoga techniques: A teacher must be able to vary the yoga techniques according to each student’s ability and know how to advise students with common medical conditions such as hypertension, arthritis, and back problems. A teacher should be able to recognize when a student needs professional psychological counseling and be familiar with community services to which to refer the student.
Make sure you study yoga with someone you can trust and respect. Basically, choose a teacher you like.
Is your Teacher honest about not knowing If you ask your Teacher a question regarding your body or yoga are they honest enough to say “I don’t know, but I will research it and get back to you.”
Does the yoga Teacher provide a well-rounded class? A yoga class should cover all aspects of Yoga philosophy, Pranayama (breath work), Asana (poses),Meditation and Relaxation in each class as well as Mantra (sound) and Chanting at least occasionally. check if the poses are varied and a combination of Standing, Sitting, Prone (lying front and back), backbends, forward bends, inversions, twists etc are included.
Confirm what style of yoga will you be learning Does the training focus on a particular style of yoga? Is it a style that you connect with? Will you learn how to sequence intelligently or will you learn a set sequence.
Research. Visit local studios in your area, take classes, talk to instructors, and program leads. Then decide.
Come to class with an open and willing spirit, give yourself a few chances to explore if a class is the best class for you. Remember to give your body, mind and soul an opportunity of time to allow Yoga to do its work.
Fancy poses are impressive and fun to do and watch, but they provide no means for measuring the success of a practice. An authentic yoga practice of any kind, physical or not, eventually shows you the way to your soul. And as soon as you see it, you see the same in other people, and you treat them well because of that insight. If a long time practice is working, the practitioner becomes kind and respectful to other people. You start to like people. Find a teacher for whom the practice seems to be working in the way you want it to work for you.