How to find the right yoga teacher?

“The most important thing is finding the right teacher – someone you relate to, someone who’s professionally trained, who keeps up with professional development and has professional risk insurance”

The above quote is from an interview with Leigh Blashki vice president of Yoga Australia (Refer to Spectrum of The Sydney Morning Herald 15-16 Sept 2012).

Recently in a yoga workshop we were asked to honour our lineage.  I would like to dedicate this blog to the teachers who shaped me as a yogi over the last 23 years and this might give further insight to the complexity of the “right”  teacher and a good class.

Robin was a physiotherapist and yoga teacher.  She was treating my lower back problem and she is the one who introduced me to yoga, I will always be thankful for it!  Her classes were hard work, in those days the classes were 2 hour long and boy she put in a lot of standing poses!  And we had to hold them for a long time to increase strength and stamina! We were delighted to do sitting poses after all that standing!  She tried to teach us how to look after ourselves and she was always encouraging, saying “you are better than you think”.  She lent a sympathetic ear if a student needed it.

I used to attend Tracey’s therapy classes when I was relatively new to yoga. The therapy classes were “short” at 1.5 hours and there were less number of students.  Most of us were somewhat stiff, we knew each other’s aliments and the atmosphere / comradery in the class was very good.  Tracey paid attention to every one of us, there was no limit to the props she would use to support us where and when it was needed.  She is very professional, always teaches a high standard class (sequence and poses modified to suit the students and to the weather).  Tracey is also very approachable and she does a lot of self development.

Zajna was very a special teacher!  Her playfulness and  intuition were always present. The poses we did were unique and the sequencing too!  From one twist through squatting to another twist! How did she come up with this?  The answer was simple: she loved her yoga and she practiced at home and shared her discoveries with us.  Her descriptions were colourful.  At one time she said to a pregnant student “it is good for the baby to see that you are folding up the blanket nicely!”  Only and Iyengar trained teacher would say this!  I wish I had taken notes on her unique sequences so I could incorporate some of them in my teaching!  Zajna loved her food and cooked with the same confidence as she taught yoga.

Helena took over Zajna’s Saturday classes and I continued to attend.  This brings in some other considerations when choosing a yoga teacher:

  • location (either close to work, to home or shopping, i.e. fits in with your lifestyle)
  • time of class

Helena introduced me to the “monthly cycle” of the Iyengar method where each week is spent on practicing a particular family of poses.  This  cycle aims at achieving a balanced practice.  Helena is very good with adjustments.  The atmosphere in her classes is jovial and the students are regulars.

Nowadays there is an abundance of different styles of yoga, we need to respect each other’s preference and be united by the love of yoga.

In conclusion: finding the right yoga teacher is a bit like finding a hairdresser or car mechanic!  She/he will become a special person in your life – choose wisely!