Although choosing the style of yoga that works best for you is important, locating an instructor you resonate with is crucial.
My first experience with yoga was through an after-work exercise program at the school district where I worked. The instructor gave initial instructions, but didn’t explain how to modify a pose if you were unable to do one in the way she described. The lady next to me mastered all the poses in their original form and between her and the teacher, I felt lost, confused and most of all, uncomfortable. That encounter caused me to stay away from any yoga class for several years.
After hearing rave reviews about a local studio and needing to alleviate my joint pain from arthritis, I tried a gentle yoga class. From the moment I walked into the studio and was greeted by Jeni, the instructor, I knew I’d found a perfect place to develop a yoga practice. Jeni exuded friendliness and warmth, she explained everything, and she had one of the most soothing voices on the planet. If you mention an ache or pain you have, she incorporates moves into the class that help alleviate it, she gives lots of individual attention and she also takes other yoga classes. I’ve taken this same gentle yoga class from Jeni, every Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. now, for about seven years. And I’m never leaving.
How can you find your own version of Jeni?
Locating Your Ideal Teacher
1. Ask your friends and co-workers to recommend someone.
If you’re a beginner, naturally you’ll want an instructor who teaches a beginning class, and likewise if you’re more advanced in your practice, you’ll want a teacher who teaches those who have been practicing for a while. You can ask for suggestions for yoga instructors on Facebook and Twitter. Once you have a list of possibilities, you’ll want to speak with the teachers who interest you the most.
2. Inquire about the teacher’s qualifications.
Did he or she take the formal education route, or was their journey to teaching more informal? What pathway prepared them for teaching? If you don’t get a clear answer, move on.
3. Reveal any physical limitations you have.
Ask each instructor if they would be comfortable working with you. Then narrow down your list to those who responded positively.
4. Sample a class from each teacher on your list.
Most credible yoga instructors will let you try a class for free or for a modest fee. Even if you need shell out some cash, this hands-on approach makes the most sense.
Do your body and mind feel good in this class? Does the teacher make sure you’re not in pain? If something doesn’t feel right, pay attention to it and know this probably isn’t the teacher or class for you.
6.Find someone who is balanced, content and patient.
The yoga studio is no place for yelling, criticizing or gossiping. Run far away if you experience this.
7. Look for a teacher who continues to learn.
The best instructors are always students of their craft. They take classes, participate in continuing education and never assume they already know it all.
Once you find the best fit for you and your body, you should study with that person as much as possible. That way he or she can tailor postures to suit your needs. But it’s great to have more than one instructor to guide you on your yoga journey.