When we think about vital relationships in our lives, we often forget a very crucial one. This one has been a part of our lives since we are born and will continue until we breathe our last. That is the student-teacher relationship. Besides the formal context of this relationship, every individual is a student and a teacher at various times. It's constantly evolving as we grow, learn, and teach. As they say, 'learning is a lifelong process. How meaningful is this relationship when it comes to yoga? It's perhaps the most critical aspect of one's yogic journey. Let's travel back in time- about 5000 years ago when yoga was known to have first come into existence. Then, all the Guru's wisdom, from yoga shastra to natya shastra was passed down orally to a Shishya. This is why the most significant decision in your yoga journey is choosing the yoga teacher that is right for you.
There are some key factors that one should consider while deciding which teacher you would want to start or continue your yoga journey with.
I always encourage students to look beyond the more superficial goals like losing weight. Yoga can do so much more for you and you must decide what you want out of your practice. People want different things out of their time on the mat. Some want a good workout, some want to destress and relax, some want a more therapeutic practice of healing ailments they might be suffering from. Knowing what you want out of your yoga practice will help you choose the style of yoga you want to practice and a teacher that specialises in that particular style.
You have to determine what style of yoga you wish to learn. There are various form of yoga ranging from traditional to contemporary and different teachers specialise in these forms. If you aren't sure, attend a few trial classes of diverse styles of practice. That will help you decide which approach suits your needs the best.
Because of the ever-growing number of teachers out there, you must make sure that the teacher you chose to learn under is a certified teacher. Having a certification to teach a particular style of yoga entails that they have gone through rigorous training themselves and know the subject well. Unfortunately, many teachers teach without any formal training, resulting in students suffering from injuries and shunning away from a beautiful practice like yoga.
Though one can be an excellent teacher without much teaching practice, experience does count. If it is an experienced teacher, he/she would know how to cater to your needs and make adjustments to suit your body type. As teachers accumulate teaching hours, they become familiar with reading the energy or the class or the student and teach accordingly. Their instructions become clearer and precise. Over time they can handle students with injuries or ailments with more care and attention.
Once you have shortlisted a few teachers, reach out to their students and ask for reviews. How do they like the class? What is taught exactly? How helpful and supportive is the teacher with their progress? If hands-on adjustments are given (if you are looking for a teacher that guides you deeper into poses). Go for trials yourself and experience the teaching first hand. As every individual's needs are so varied, you can only recognise if a teacher fits your needs by doing their class.
Realise the importance of a teacher in your yoga journey and dig deeper into who is the right fit for you. Using the above pointers as a guideline, you can definitely find a teacher who will support you through your practice and help you grow in a safe and secure environment.
Sneha is a Certified yoga teacher and a Proyog ambassador. Do read more about her here and follow her on Instagram.
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