Everyone who has practiced yoga knows that there are many different types of yoga teachers out there. This is great because we all connect with different types of people. Students who need strong discipline might be drawn to a warrior-like teacher, whereas others might work better with a more nurturing teacher. Whatever the teaching approach may be, there are certain qualities that all good yoga teachers possess.
1. Walks her talk
Try to teach French grammar without speaking the language. Impossible. This is the case with all teaching, including yoga. All yoga teachers should practice yoga and only teach it based on their own solid experiential understanding. When a teacher tries to teach something she has just read in a book without having spent hours on the mat applying it into practice, the teaching doesn’t translate to students. Yoga teaching that comes only from intellectual level isn’t as clear as teaching based on teacher’s personal experiences. Energetically speaking when any teaching comes from the heart and the higher self rather than the mind and the ego, the message is more genuine.
2. Sharing is caring
A good teacher wants to share everything she has learnt through her own practice, so that others too could experience the same wonderful benefits she has gained. The more the teacher shares with her students, the more her teachings are reinforced. This results in a snowball effect where she learns even more in the process with the students. She doesn’t want to keep that knowledge to herself in order to attract more students. A good teacher teaches from trust in abundance rather than from fear of scarcity; the more you give, the more you get.
3. Power to students
A good teacher educates and empowers her students. Rather than just teaching them certain poses, she helps students understand the learning processes involved. She works from a principle ‘teach them how to fish, rather than give them a fish’. This is a good way to transfer the authority to the students and help them understand the principles of practice, so that they learn to understand and listen to their own bodies. Then the students can take control of their own health and personal growth.
4. Teaching based on individuality
Each yoga practitioner is unique and therefore each yoga practice needs to evolve differently. A good yoga teacher sees the individuality of each student and teaches them accordingly. Rather than giving the same instructions to everyone, a good yoga teacher is able to give individual guidance to each student according to their age, ability and health condition.
5. Teacher-student confidentiality
Even though we don’t have industry guidelines for teacher-student relationship, there should be an absolute confidentiality between the teacher and the students. All good teachers work as ethically as doctors with their patients or lawyers with their clients. We are often amongst the first people to find out about pregnancies as well as pregnancy loss. This type of personal information should be valued and kept confidential. Students should trust that their teacher has their best interests at heart. It goes without saying that teachers should never try to abuse this trust to pursue their own interests.
6. Chameleon-like teaching
A good teacher constantly challenges her students and encourages them to test their own limits. A good teacher doesn’t seek learning results to feel validated, but simply teaches patiently at the highest level of the student’s current understanding at any given time. Often a yoga teacher might feel like she needs to be a healer, priest and psychologist all in one day. Like a chameleon, yoga teacher needs to adapt to different situations. By showing different aspects of herself, a good yoga teacher gives the students exactly what they need at any given time in order for them to grow and learn.
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