selecting a yoga teacher

How to Select a Good Yoga Teacher

With yoga becoming so popular, and yoga classes popping up in gyms, parks, other places, and of course yoga studios, it can be hard to know which yoga teacher is the right fit for you. Knowing what kinds of things to look for (and look out for) is critical in finding a good yoga teacher. Training/Certification First off, it's important to understand what kind of training your potential teacher has received. Typically, a teacher must complete at least a 200 hour training program to be qualified to safely and effectively teach yoga. Within that 200 hours, the teacher should have a solid foundation in yoga philosophy and anatomy, among other topics. After they have completed the 200 hour training, they are said to be "certified" to teach at the 200 hour level.

200 hour yoga trainings are offered in a variety of scheduling formats, and may be offered in a compressed format (<1 month) or a longer format (several months or even a year). My personal opinion is that the longer the format the better, because it gives the teacher-in-training time to deeply study and process the materials being learned.

Many teachers continue past their 200 hour training with specialized trainings in specific topics that are of interest to them. And some teachers embark upon the advanced 500 hour training.

Registration/Licensure Yoga Alliance is the main registration body in the US. If yoga teachers choose to register with Yoga Alliance (it is optional), they must have a minimum of a 200 hour training and they must complete ongoing continuous education to maintain their registration. You might see the RYT-200 or RYT-500 (Registered Yoga Teacher) credential after your teacher's name on her website or Facebook page. These mean that she is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 200 or 500 hour level.

The yoga industry is unregulated, so there is no license for teaching yoga, as there is for massage therapists, physical therapists, or other healthcare professionals. This is important to note, because anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher, regardless of how much (or little) training they've had. It's really up to the yoga student to check into the credentials of their potential teacher so that they are certain they've found a quality, qualified yoga instructor.

Experience Yoga teachers with a 200 hour certification are fully trained to teach yoga, but the number of years your potential teacher has been teaching will deepen and enrich her experience and teachings.

With experience and/or additional training, yoga teachers will find their area of expertise, be it prenatal yoga, children's yoga, advanced postures, restorative yoga, yoga for stress relief, etc.

Also, teachers with more experience are more likely to be comfortable and knowledgable working with people with special needs and conditions, such as injuries, illnesses, and diseases.

In searching for a yoga teacher, it's a great idea to ask if he or she is experienced in dealing with whatever area is your greatest concern. Ask about her area of expertise. Ask if she is experienced in teaching yoga for migraines, knee issues, scoliosis, chronic pain, miscarriage, breast cancer recovery, etc. It is always ok to ask. If the teacher isn't an expert in your area of concern, but volunteers to do some research before your first class, she's likely a good teacher. And if for any reason she doesn't feel like a good fit, it's ok to walk away.

Teaching Philosophy Another great thing to ask your potential yoga teacher is about his or her teaching philosophy. He may give you any number of answers (focus on alignment for healthy posture, listening to your inner wisdom, deepening your spirituality customizing practice to the yoga practitioner), but whatever it is, it should resonate with you.

Trust Your Instinct Pay attention to your potential yoga teacher's people skills. Does she look you in the eye? Is she present or distracted? Is she friendly or distant?

Sometimes we hear stories about yoga students who are injured during their practice because they stretched too far or because their yoga teacher (literally) pushed them too deeply into a posture. Know that your practice is your own. If during the class, the teacher asks you to do any posture that doesn't feel right to you, trust your instinct, listen to your body, and take a break in a resting posture.

One last thing to keep in mind is to be open to the styles of different teachers. Whether your favorite teacher has to miss a class and you have an unexpected sub, or if she announced that she's moving out of state and someone new is taking over her class for good, be open to what the new teacher has to offer. A fresh perspective can open up a whole new dimension of your yoga practice, either on your mat, or in your life, or both!

At The Yoga Room I've taken great care to build a staff of well-trained yoga teachers. Some have years of teaching experience and some are recent teacher training graduates. The common thread amongst our teachers is their enthusiasm for making yoga accessible to Every Body.

The diversity and expertise of the staff allows us to safely teach a wide variety of classes, ranging from Restorative to Prenatal to advanced asanas in Hatha II and Hatha Flow. We're committed to helping yoga students find the type of practice that is most beneficial to their needs and goals.

If you have any questions about which classes or teachers are best for you, please give us a call at 512-944-0426 or send us an email

If you'd like to share your thoughts on what makes a good yoga teacher, we'd love to hear what you have to say! Please post your thoughts in the Comments section below.

We look forward to hearing from you!

XO, Zelinda


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