Finding a Good Yoga Instructor

Written by Victoria Randles.

Finding a good yoga instructor is like finding a good hairdresser. If you don't like what they've done with you....why would you go back?

It's yoga, aren't all the instructor's the same? No! Finding the right instructor for your practice is just as important as finding the perfect sports bra. If it's awkward, restrictive or uncomfortable you won't wear it. So naturally if your instructor makes you feel this way, you won't show up. Or maybe you'll attend, but you won't experience the true essence of yoga and receive all the benefits that comes along with it.

yoga instructor

If your finding an instructor pushes you beyond your (healthy) limits, barks orders at you or demonstrates a pose and tells you not to worry because you'll never be able to do it like I'm doing, I'd say this isn't the class for you. However; for some that strictly go to yoga to be challenged and go beyond the level they have previously achieved, this may very well be the instructor for you.

Now, I am not trying to attack anyone's character because instructors are humans too right? Yeah, I'm not sure about that either.... I've been to some classes where I think my instructor may be an angel in disguise. I've attended a class and she or he has said exactly what I needed to hear at the pivotal moment, almost like divine guidance being brought to me via yogi. In all seriousness though, just because they instruct yoga doesn't mean they instruct the kind you need. So, no hard feelings if their class isn't for you. It's not you, it's me, rings true here.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding whether or not you are happy with a class:

Did the room feel welcoming and safe? In other words were you greeted with a smile or smiles? Or did you awkwardly stroll over to the only free spot available which required you to awaken a sleeping savasanist and have them move begrudgingly? And you know what? If that is ever the case try sending love out into the room, you may feel it get warmer.

When the class started did the instructor tell you to only do what you can and that you are free to take a resting pose at any point through out the class? This one is key for me. When I hear that I am able to totally relax because I know however difficult the poses still to come may be, I have the option to opt out if necessary. It may seem like a given that you can take a rest, however; I have had instructors who will push you to skip over it and push to hold the pose. (You may like that, that's why it's about finding YOUR match.)

Did the instructor speak in a language of yoga that you could understand? I'm sure you've had the experience where she or he is obviously quite familiar with the original names of poses and chooses to only use those. Unfortunately for most, we aren't formally trained, nor do we speak Sanskrit. So needless to say having the instructor repeat the poses in English is an important one for most. And if you do know all the poses in Sanskrit, good on-ya!

Lastly, and mostly for those newer to the practice of yoga. Did you feel unattended to, particularly when you knew your pose was completely out of whack? We can usually tell if something isn't quite sitting right and this can result in injury. It's important to have an instructor who has a keen eye for poses that are out of alignment to keep you safe and able to continue practicing. If this is an issue for you but you like the class you've found, speak up afterwards and let them know your concerns and that you'd like a little extra help the next time. Conversely, let them know at the beginning of class any injuries or problem areas you may have and they will usually watch out for you from the get-go!

As you can see, most concerns you may have with a class can probably be worked out, but it's much easier to first find one that you are 75% happy with. The other 25% will work itself out. Once you've found yourself a match, the one that really meshes well with you, stick with them! It's great to have someone witness your journey, know your limits, expand your consciousness, and to make you feel at home. If you've found one (or many) of these in your life that's terrific! Now go make them some raw or vegan treats, they'll give you extra attention and correct your postures ;).

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