Verified on 19/01/2023 by PasseportSanté
Choosing your yoga teacher is a bit like finding the right osteopath: it is above all a personal process that must meet your needs. Is his practice near me? Does it crack when handling? Does he tend to make me come back several times for consultation?
If the questions seem obvious in the case of the osteopath, one can feel a little lost when it comes to the yoga teacher:
- What to expect?
- How do I know if he/she is right for me?
- How do you know if he/she is competent?
Here are 10 tips to help you ask the right questions and make an informed choice.
1/ Check the yoga training followed by the teacher
In France, yoga is not an officially regulated industry. The minimum training recognized by the profession is 200 hours. This standard has been defined by Yoga Alliance, the largest non-profit association representing the yoga community.
Yoga Alliance Accreditation: RYS and RYT
Founded in the United States in the 1990s, this institution grants certifications to yoga training establishments, provided they comply with strict specifications. You can recognize them at a glance, thanks to the acronym RYS (Registered Yoga School) which means that the establishment is accredited by Yoga Alliance. A yoga teacher who has trained in an RYS school is a globally recognized guarantee of quality.
Some teachers also display the acronym RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher), which implies that he/she is individually registered within Yoga Alliance. Attention, if this is another proof of the quality of the teacher, keep in mind that it is necessary to pay relatively high registration and renewal fees to be part of the RYT of YogaAlliance. Many yoga teachers don’t do this, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t qualified.
In addition to Yoga Alliance, national official bodies are other indicators of the seriousness of the training courses followed by the teacher you are looking for.
In France, the French Yoga Federation offers, for example, a three-year training course which obviously seems more complete than the 200-hour courses that have flourished in recent years.
However, a yoga teacher can be excellent, even with a shorter initial training. If he has been passionate and invested in his practice for years, if he has continued to train and if he has specialized in certain types of yoga (prenatal, yin, senior, children, etc.), there is has every reason to place your trust in him!
2/ Ask if the course is suitable for your needs
This is an essential question to ask yourself: do I have specific needs during class and can this yoga teacher meet them?
For example, if you are pregnant, if you suffer from certain pathologies, if you are a great athlete or if you are in a senior age group, make sure that the teacher has received specific training.
A teacher who asks at the beginning of the lesson if one of the students has any injuries or particularities to report can also reassure you about his ability to adapt the practice.
3/ Choosing a teacher also means choosing a style of yoga
HathaVinyasa, Yin, Nidra, Bikram, Iyengar, Ashtanga… the currents of yoga are very numerous.
Before choosing a teacher, it can be useful to check if the style taught corresponds to what you expect. For example, for a dynamic and sporty practice, Vinyasa or Ashtanga will be ideal.
For a deep relaxing effect, it will be necessary to opt more for Yin or Nidra.
Do not hesitate to inquire with the teacher or his establishment to avoid unpleasant surprises. Sometimes you have to try several styles (and several teachers!) before finding a shoe that suits you.
4/ Ask yourself what do you expect from your yoga class?
Once the style of yoga has been chosen, another question arises: what do you expect from your yoga class? Because even within the same current, practices differ enormously from one teacher to another. It may therefore be relevant to ask, for example:
- Am I comfortable chanting mantras like the famous “Om”?
- Do I prefer a more postural practice?
- Do I want to develop a spiritual practice or am I only coming for sporting purposes?
Indeed, learning about the content of the practice will prevent you from being disappointed or uncomfortable during your course.
5/ Does the teacher offer variations of postures?
As graceful as they are, some yoga postures are not suitable for all body types. A teacher who offers variations in postures is probably committed to making yoga inclusive and accessible to as many people as possible, regardless of the level of the student.
Variations can be purely physical, such as dropping one knee to the ground in side plank pose. They can also use material such as a strap or a brick. The latter can be used in particular in a posture such as the triangle.
6/ Varied classes and discourse
Even if you can find the same postures from one class to another, it is important that your practice is not identical every week. By varying the postures and the transitions, you will be able to progress and develop a better body awareness, a better knowledge of your body. It is also proof that your teacher does not stay on his achievements and renews himself!
Same principle for the speech given by prof. Explanations should be clear, simple and varied. Sometimes a word is enough to overcome a blockage in a posture. If you hear the same phrases every week, you will have little chance of going further in your practice.
7/ A teacher who knows how to adjust without imposing too much
One of the main advantages of the face-to-face yoga class is that your teacher can come and adjust you and help you correct your postures during your practice.
If some yogis love to be touched, others prefer to practice in their corner, without the teacher’s intervention. So make sure that your teacher is present, open-minded and that he corrects you by voice or gesture, but that he also leaves you spaces of freedom to explore the postures yourself and take the time to feel them in your body!
8/ A yoga teacher is not a doctor
There are multi-hatted teachers who have another activity in addition to their yoga classes. But this is far from always the case. It is therefore necessary to be vigilant, especially in the face of the advice that certain teachers allow themselves to be distilled.
- A yoga teacher is not a doctor. Despite his anatomical knowledge, he cannot make a diagnosis or dispense medical advice;
- A yoga teacher is not a psychologist. Despite his listening skills and his often soothing side, he cannot give psychological or behavioral advice;
- A yoga teacher is not a physio or an osteopath. Here again, despite his knowledge of the human body, he cannot give rehabilitation exercises or make a diagnosis.
In any case, the yoga teacher can refer you to a health professional.
9/ A teacher who teaches nearby
It may seem simplistic, but finding a teacher near your home or workplace is important so as not to lose motivation over the months. If you have to cross half of the city or drive 1 hour for 1 hour of class, you may quickly become discouraged.
Online Yoga classes can be an excellent alternative, to practice at home and progress step by step.
Do not neglect your feelings in contact with your teacher: is he warm? Does it make you feel comfortable? Does he encourage you?
Feeling unjudged is essential to progressing and embracing the full potential of what yoga has to offer you. Remember that a good yoga teacher should always make you feel better when you leave their class than when you arrived.
Since the Covid crisis, many teachers have been offering video lessons, don’t hesitate to try several before committing. Nothing prevents you either from having several teachers and from varying the pleasures according to your needs.
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