Training: Yoga Alliance, for example, registers teachers and classes that have met their minimum educational requirements. They go by a consistent form of training, either 200 or 500 hours worth of training.
Prenatal Yoga and Children’s Yoga have Yoga Alliance standards as well. Be very certain your instructor has certification in these specialized and delicate fields. Ask to see their certification. Their certifications should be displayed on their wall or in a publicly accessible portfolio.
There are thousands of instructors who are NOT certified, but yet advertise as if they are.
Teacher Training: Does your instructor continue their own yoga training by taking yearly classes or retreats? A teacher who isn’t also studying is not as passionate about or as interested in yoga as others will be. Continued education is important in gauging your yoga teacher’s enthusiasm and passion. Yoga trainings cost several thousands of dollars, find an instructor who cares enough about YOU to be properly trained.
Be aware of YogaFit students who advertise they are “Level 1 Certified.” All that means is they spent a weekend at a local transient school with a nomad teacher. A YogaFit instructor requires approximately eight levels to be Yoga Alliance certified at RYT 200. This is NOT to say a YogaFit instructor isn’t qualified to teach, but if you are reading this article, perhaps you are looking for someone with a little more value to offer.
For fast money, Yoga schools are offering “Two-Week Certifications”. Folks sign up and in two weeks they have a certification. These classes do not compare in content to the normal, “back in the day” nine-month certifications. Although Yoga Alliance recognizes some of these two-week quickies as valid, there is no comparison to the full exposure.
Personal Interest: Does the yoga instructor take a personal interest in you and your practice? Is she willing to listen to your goals and hopes for a yoga practice and help you figure out how to achieve them? If your yoga instructor doesn’t have time for you, look elsewhere.
Meet the Yoga Instructor Before Class: Take time to meet the instructor before class. Ask questions, find out class protocol, and get a feel for the teacher’s expectations.
Try the Class: As you go through your first class, pay attention to the yoga instructor. Does she walk around to check out each person’s pose? Offer positive help? Give alternatives? How do the students respond? Is there camaraderie? What is the overall tone of the class?
Breath Work: Does the yoga teacher give instructions on breath work? Breathing is an intricate part of yoga, and needs to be taught along with the poses.
Philosophy and Spirituality: Like breath work, the philosophy or the spiritual aspect of yoga is also an integral part of yoga class. Yoga instructors who focus only on the physical side of yoga miss the best part of the practice. Yoga is mental, spiritual and physical, and should be taught together.
In the Rochester, NY area, Yoga schools such as Open Sky Yoga or Grounded By Yoga offer teachers with over 30 years experience and training. Their knowledge, combined with their own life experiences, can be priceless.