What are the qualities that define a great yoga instructor? How does one decide who is the best? Every yoga teacher is unique in their own right. That said, every yoga instructor touches the heart of their students in their own special way. Over the years, I have the chance to practice yoga under many yoga instructors, and I don’t think I could pick any one of them as the best. However, I have noticed that all the greats seem to share the same traits. If I had to create a checklist of qualities that make the ultimate yogi, this would be it:
In as much as you don’t have to be the flexible or the most gifted to be a great yoga teacher, you do need to have passed the minimum skill level required to teach at a high level. At times, there’s no better way to teach than to lead by example. A great yoga instructor must be able to perform the yoga moves with his/her or her class.
A great yoga teacher commands attention. It’s one of those qualities that can’t be explained. When your yogi walks in, does his/her or her presence make you feel welcome? Can they make you practice yoga even when you’re not in the mood to do so? The ultimate yogi has the ability to make you forget your troubles for the duration of the session.
The ultimate yogi should have a trademark–a signature sequence, phrase, or even closing. The trademark should be authentic, and the yoga teacher has to own it. The ultimate yogi has the ability to take on something that seems complex and revolutionizes it into something that can be done by anyone. For instance, Tara Stiles has completely personalized the concept of ‘yoga for everyone’, making it accessible to yoga students of all stages.
A great yogi is in tune with his/her or her students needs and can easily adjust the session at any minute to address the needs of the class. Why? It is because the ultimate yogi can teach without compromising the needs of the class. He/she can go with the flow, spirituality, or alignment of the class without compromising the theme of the class. Whatever the needs of his/her students, she/he will go out of their way to be of assistance.
Details, Details, Details
A good yoga session thrives in the details. Even as you practice on your own, it is the art of adhering to the details that will take you to high levels. If your yogi teacher is always ensuring that all her students are doing the moves right way–asks you to point your toes, stretch your leg, or bend your back a little more–it shows that s/he is committed to her vocation and that she/he loves what they do. More so, s/he wants you to be good at it as well. How swell is that?
Those who’ve been practicing yoga for a long time must have a yogi they consider a mentor. The qualities that make a great yogi may vary from person to person, but what counts is the fact that our yoga teachers are here to stay.
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