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Qualities To Look For In a Yoga Instructor

Updated on December 27, 2015

Yoga Instructor

The success (or failure) of your yoga class depends to a large extent on the teacher's capability. Hence, the decision of picking an instructor to teach in your yoga classes must not be taken lightly. Take as much consideration as you make when choosing the yoga gears or mat to use as you would in choosing a yoga instructor. This is not just for the progress of your yoga class, but also in terms of ensuring your safety.


Role of Yoga Instructor

Yoga instructors play a vital role in obtaining your goals for performing yoga, especially for starters to the yoga practice. They are the ones who will be relaying their knowledge on yoga towards you such that you can gain optimum benefits from it.

More than there to teach you how to properly execute a yoga pose and all other elements involved, such as meditation and breathing, they will be tasked to assess your own yoga skill level. This knowledge will help them understand your capabilities and limitations when it comes to performing yoga.

Skill Level

This is the most obvious criteria that you should use to determine which yoga instructor to choose. If possible, choose an instructor who has expertise on a specific yoga style you intend to learn and practice. To get the information you need, a substantial amount of research might be necessary.

Once you have the information you need, compare it next to your set of criteria. Some yoga instructors might be qualified enough but they are not a match for the kind of instructor you need. Hence, continue your research in the quest to find a yoga instructor that you believe will help you in your yogic goals.

Hatha Yoga Class

Teaching Experience

There is a fine line separating a yoga instructor with extensive yoga knowledge and an instructor who is qualified to teach those knowledge to their yoga students. Of course, the decision between which of these two instructors to opt for is clear. Teaching experience is also vital in choosing a qualified yoga instructor.

Inquire about a particular instructor's years of teaching yoga so you can determine whether they are an effective teacher. Also, make sure that they are constantly practicing yoga, which is ideally at least three times a week. 

Personality and Teaching Approach

Another crucial but often considered trivial criteria is the personality of a yoga instructor. This is something that is not written on an instructor's credentials but is something that can be gained only through personal interaction. Personality basically means an instructor's ability to openly communicate and discuss your needs between each other.

In order to build a student-teacher relationship, you need to be comfortable with each other as it can both affect your performance.

Cost and Expense

This is a practical but important factor in your decision. Consider the cost of hiring a particular yoga instructor to teach you based on the extent of the program, the facilities that is available to you as a student, and the qualification of the instructor.

Indeed, you get what you pay for so you have to really look into where you are investing your money on.

Beginner Hatha Yoga Class

CorePower Yoga Hot Power Fusion Class

Bryan Kest's Power Yoga

Yoga Style

It is important that before talking to a yoga studio or instructor, you must ensure that they are offering classes for a specific style of yoga that you are interested in. This will help you save both time and money.

If you have not decided yet, here are some possible choices for you:

  • Iyengar – There is a focus on proper symmetry of the body while executing poses; hence, it utilizes various props including chairs, blankets, and straps.
  • Kripalu – This style of yoga incorporates proper alignment and movement with coordinated breathing patterns. The idea here is to attain the state of meditation-in-motion.
  • Ashtanga – This involve sequence of poses that are executed in rapid succession. Although physically demanding, this yoga style is helpful in boosting stamina, strength, and flexibility.
  • Bikram – In here, students will execute all 26 poses in a sequence under a hot environment of around 85 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Power – This particular style is best known for its focus on fitness and is quite popular in the west.

Safety Concerns

  • As much as possible, avoid settling for yoga instructors that were recommended to you by friends or associates. Instead, use your own criteria in choosing an instructor for your yoga classes. What worked for them is not guaranteed to work on you as well.
  • Choose a yoga instructor who pay special attention in assessing a student's skill level or if there are any pre-existing health conditions.
  • Opt for instructors or yoga studios with specific safety measures to ensure that you have access to health care, in cases of emergencies and other related circumstances.

Always Ask Questions

Individual yoga practitioners have different needs and objectives. Hence, there are different styles of yoga available to suit these varying needs. When doing your research or making inquiries on leading yoga studios or teachers, most people often take the information given to them as it is.

You need to understand, though, that yoga is still a business. Therefore, they will provide you only the information you want to hear because that would mean an additional client for them. It is advisable that you create your own set of questions that you can ask a yoga instructor to ensure that their program is exactly what is suited for you.

Dru Yoga Online Studio: Dru Power Sequence

Basic criteria for choosing a yoga instructor

Below is an outline of some of the basic criteria for choosing a yoga instructor and a corresponding set of questions you can ask.

1. Credentials

*Where did a particular yoga instructor earned their yoga credentials or training from? Does this institution have a good reputation within the yogic community?
*If they lacked proper education from a recognized yoga institution, does s/he have other sources of credentials from a certified body?
*What other training or experience have they undergone to facilitate in the professional development?

2. Experience

*How long did the instructor trained? What specific kind of training did s/he undergo?
*Aside from practicing, how long have they been teaching yoga?
*Is their study of yoga and its new practices ongoing?

3. Specialized Approaches

*Do they employ modified approaches for yoga students with specialized needs?
*What measures do they take when a particular student has health concerns?
*How do they enable a student with physical limitations to cope with the practice?

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  • Hugh Chism profile image

    Hugh Chism 8 years ago

    Very wise advice, especially the point about the instructor paying attention to the student's skill level.