Everyone who practices yoga goes to class for different reasons. While some may like the sweat-inducing heat of Bikram Yoga, others enjoy the relaxing effect of Yin Yoga. Beyond adoring a certain style of yoga, the energy your yoga teacher brings to class may be the real reason that keeps you going back for more.
Certain traits in a yoga teacher stand out. The following are my favorite qualities that inspire me as a teacher, and as a student of yoga.
One quality that might attract your admiration is your instructor’s ability to change course in mid-stream. Certainly, some styles of yoga stick to the same series of poses, and that is fine. But, does your instructor at least shift the tone from serious to light-hearted when the need arises? In a varied class, perhaps he or she has the class plan already laid out with hip openers and inversions, yet the majority of class has requested core and shoulder work. Does your yoga instructor see this as an opportunity to serve, or a burden that fosters annoyance and frustration?
I am grateful for yoga teachers who are there for each student. However subtle that may be, when a teacher recognizes the variety of personal needs and honors them with gentle modifications or suggestions, I am drawn to his or her class.
Every person in yoga is working at their own pace, within the boundaries of their own limitations, and progressing at a rate that is best for them. A little coercing, coaxing, and coaching from the yoga teacher is fabulous, but any hint of impatience with the lack of advancement is completely unwarranted and absolutely unnecessary.
Just as you wouldn’t force the tomato plants in your garden to grow, why would anyone push someone beyond their ability? Yoga teachers who are content with the varied levels of their students radiate with an allure that makes people feel welcome.
Nothing makes my skin crawl more than someone pretending to be something they are not. We all know people who do this, and most of us can recognize a poser from a mile away. Yoga instructors are not perfect. We are not holy, we don’t always play by the rules, we make mistakes, and we are human beings just like everyone else.
A teacher who stands in truth just as they are, at the front of the class, with no other agenda than to serve, gets my vote.
What traits in your teacher keep you coming back for more?
June 20th, 2012