Updated: Jan 19
We all become students the moment we are out of the wombs and we learn about the first experience of living in our mother's embrace, mother is the first teacher we encounter who show us the way around the maze of life. A mother is an instinctively natural teacher; she teaches out of compassion to the child.
Friends, siblings, neighbours, fellow citizens, all add to our learning related to the various aspects of our lives. As we grow we come in contact with other teachers at schools, teachers trained in diverse faculties, which are available at a cost, for aiding in our development as balanced human beings. Similarly, Yoga as a discipline has been strongly recommended to be studied only under a Guru, a teacher.
Personal Qualities of a Great Yoga Teacher
The first requirement of a yoga teacher is that he/ she must have personally tread the path of yoga to be able to guide the ones interested in treading the same after them. One of the basic qualities of a good yoga teacher is that he should himself have begun learning yoga from the basics, following the sequence of the steps enumerated by Patanjali in his eight fold path of yoga:
beginning with understanding of, and then practicing Yamas and Niyamas for cleansing the mind structures of any negativity in order to be able to benefit from the consequent steps of Ashtanga Yoga. A very few Yoga teaching teacher training programs In india emphasise upon the theoretical, ideological aspect of yoga. This particular attribute is conspicuous by its absence from the modern Yoga studio culture in our metros today.
The authentic literature on yoga benefits by clarifying the emotional and sociological approaches to its study which drives the aspirant away from stressing only on the physical aspect of yoga. Classical yoga of Patanjali is different in the sense that it has a way of life inherent in its tenets which promises to alter the perspective of its student on life. A good teacher must be living yoga in his/ hers ( will be addressed as his hereafter) this very life. The student must learn from the example set by the way the life is being lead by the yoga teacher itself.
We at our Yoga classes in Bandra West, Mumbai and also in our yoga at home in Mumbai sessions make sure that we incorporate the theoretical, ideological aspects in teaching the various technical aspects of yoga to our clients. Our yoga teachers are fairly adept at including the concepts of the right attitude, action, and alignment while conducting the asana practice class. The main aim remains to invoke the interest in our clients to know more and more on the related topics. We do this by entangling short inputs on the concepts of yoga lying behind the techniques being taught in our instructions itself.
A Great teacher must be the master of the technology of yoga, and must be known for consistently adhering to its principles than for its display and propaganda. He may or may not be famous as an average man on the street feels more pulled towards the exhibitionist than the one who is silently living yoga by himself. Another one of the most challenging qualities of a yoga teacher in modern times is to present the classical yoga techniques to the modern man in a way that it invites attention and inspires faith for them in him.
The yoga teacher is expected to be well versed in all the aspects of yoga: yoga therapy, classical yoga theory, yoga teaching technologies, the code of moral living, the duties of a householder, social responsibilities and the essence of being a respectable citizen of the country. He must be impartial, non prejudiced, and kind in imparting his teachings to the students. The process of transfer of knowledge from the yoga teacher to the student must take place without the teacher imposing his personality upon the student so that the student can modulate their own personalities based on the teachings of the yoga teacher.
Modern yoga students look for yoga teachers which reflect their own image of themselves. This will put them at the peril of freezing into whatever they are, and will not transform their personalities for filling the gap between their present selves and what is expected off them from yoga. The qualities of a good teacher which are not to be looked for are exhibitionism, ceremonialism and ostentation. These qualities have become the hallmark of modern yoga teachers or self proclaimed yoga gurus are universally available in abundance.
One of the qualities of a yoga teacher on account of his knowledge and experience in living yoga every day of his life is that he will be neutral to any religious, socio, cultural or economic thinking, and one can feel the vibes of nonviolence and truth effortlessly emanating from his direction.
Expected Qualities of a Yoga Teacher in a Yoga Class
The yoga teacher must be regular with his own practice. He must have attained certain minimum physical flexibility levels before he starts teaching yoga to others. The yoga teacher should not be performing Hatha yoga techniques like asanas with the yoga class he is giving, this would take his attention away from the subtle movements and alignments of the students which he is required to notice and correct. He should have mastered the details of the techniques, and the principles of alignment in yoga, through his personal practice out of the class and must be well aware of the benefits Hatha yoga offers.
Even during his personal practice the yoga teacher must perform the techniques with complete involvement of the corresponding bhava - Jnana, Dharma, Vairagya, or Aishvarya bhava - as mentioned in yoga, of the mind. He should have properly acquainted himself on the place and significance of asanas in yoga along with the guidelines to be followed while doing them. He should be able to experience a certain level of abstraction of the senses ( pratyahara) on his own. The yoga teacher must be well versed with the knowledge of basic requirements before and during the pranayamas practice and their role in the final scheme of things of progress in yoga.
The conduct of the yoga teacher while giving the yoga class to the students is a very crucial consideration to be taken into account. He should be able to exhibit yoga concepts of satya ( truthfulness), ahimsa ( Non violence), asteya ( non stealing), brahmacharya ( continence), aparigraha ( non covetousness), sauch ( cleanliness), santosh ( contentment), swadhyaya ( self study), tapa ( fortitude), and ishvarapranidhana ( resigning to the will of the absolute) through his own conduct and personality.
Being considerate, patient, and sympathetic to his students are the other qualities of a yoga teacher. His demeanor and general disposition in the yoga class must be relaxed and infused with mudita ( joy). The yoga teacher must be in a good position to understand and use the principles of human psychology for maintaining the emotional balance within the entire class, and also to generate the student's interest in knowing and practicing yoga with enhanced enthusiasm.
The yoga teacher must possess the skill of maintaining a balanced connect with his students; neither to open, nor to closed. To be able to connect with each student in the class is one of the very subtle but imperative qualities of a great yoga teacher. The yoga teacher must be very good in communicating in whatever language he chooses to teach: expression, body language, diction, accent, all come a long way in making the instructions being imparted clear and precise.
The yoga teacher must exude confidence in his mannerisms and should be able to project respect and solemnity for yoga through his conduct in the class. Qualities of a yoga teacher like resourcefulness, initiative are a must possess by any yoga teacher who is serious and professional about his job. The love for teaching if possessed by the teacher automatically gets expressed in the enhanced energy level of the class. A great teacher will always think ahead and plan the structure of the class much before he steps inside the yoga studio.
In modern times the yoga teachers should also be able to excel in the unique requirements of teaching yoga online while maintaining the essence of all the qualities mentioned above.