With yoga’s recent surge in popularity, there are countless choices of teachers, studios, and style choices when beginning the practice.
More than other types of fitness, finding the right teacher can make or break your practice and be the difference between immediate yoga addiction or never going back to class.
When you begin the search for your perfect teacher, ask yourself the following questions to find your match:
1. Who taught your teacher, and what is their lineage?
Many of the greatest yoga teachers today were taught skills handed down through generations of yoga masters tracing back to its origins in India.
To find the most authentic and well-trained teachers around, you’ll want to research who your teacher was trained by — which is information that’s usually available in a teacher’s bio or website.
For example, Shiva Rea is responsible for Vinyasa yoga’s popularity in the United States, and she studied with Krishnamacharya and his son T.K.V. Desikachar, both master teachers who each passed down a long yoga lineage. Anyone trained by Shiva Rea is continuing that lineage.
2. What qualifications does your teacher have?
Perhaps yoga teacher lineage is not important to you, and that’s totally fine. However at least ensure your teacher has the proper qualifications. If you see “RYT-200,” your teacher has completed a 200-hour program and is registered through Yoga Alliance to teach. This is a typical certification. If you see “RYT-500,” your teacher likely completed a 200-hour program and a 300-hour program, so they are even more qualified to teach.
If you are looking for therapeutic purposes, you can search specifically for a yoga therapist.
3. What style of yoga do they practice?
If you’ve already nailed down what style of yoga is right for you (link), you can narrow down ideal teachers by their styles and then take it from there.
4. What’s your teacher’s motivation?
Does your teacher desire to inspire her students? Does she love the practice of yoga? Or is it for self-serving reasons, because she’s into herself and likes hearing herself talk? If you pay attention in your first class, the questions will answer themselves.
Choose a teacher who strives to teach and inspire — it’ll make a world of difference.
5. What are the classes like?
One of the best things about yoga is that it never gets old. When choosing a teacher, look at all aspects of her class. Is it fast-paced or more slow and mindful? Is it a workout or a work in (or maybe both)? Does she incorporate meditative practices? Is there chanting? How do you feel when you leave?
While you may not know it now, there’s bound to be a teacher whose style you connect to fully.
6. Do you connect with this teacher on an emotional or spiritual level?
Yoga takes you beyond the physical, and finding a teacher who will inspire you spiritually or help you connect to yourself on a deeper level could make a major impact in your life.
It may take time to find a teacher who you truly connect with, but in the end, Yoga will transform your life in ways you didn’t even know were possible.
There are plenty of great yoga teachers out there for you! Now go out and find them!