Rita guides you through a most loving and sacred yoga practice. Her gentle nature and lightness allow for the most wonderful unfolding to take place in her class. As a fellow student and teacher I am always appreciative of her gifts and radiant smile she shares with others. ... Aarti Ganesh           Read more...

An Ideal Yoga Teacher

It is a great honor to be a Yoga teacher. When you bring Yoga awareness into other people’s lives you are doing a great service to the humanity. You are in the position to be instrumental in changing people’s lives for the better and it is a big responsibility. A sincere Yoga teacher is one who brings in the right approach, understanding and practice of Yoga to people. It is sad to see a vast number of self proclaimed Yoga teachers in our country these days. 

They have picked up bits and pieces of this art from TV and from some not too experienced instructors. As a result they are teaching push and pull Yoga and not Sthiram (steady) and Sukham (comfortable) Yoga. It is amply evident that they do not have an understanding of the Yogic system, let alone the Yogic tradition. Hence, if you want to be a Yoga teacher, the first commitment you have to make is to be sincere to Yoga. Yoga is a discipline and it is your own personal Sadhana (spiritual practice) that will make the greatest impact on your effectiveness as a Yoga teacher.




ESSENTIALS OF A YOGA TEACHER…

• A Yoga teacher needs to lead a disciplined Yogic way of life. Practice living Yoga, live your day with a Yogic attitude and be the witness, the observer, the Drashta of yourself.

• A Yoga Teacher should have clarity of thought and patience while teaching. She/he should also practice Pranayama and Meditation everyday to increase his/her own mental balance and to store up huge amounts of Prana in the body.

• Should also be a keen practitioner of Yoga. Needs to be physically and mentally fit and possess the right temperament, good patience and be sensitive and thus be able to handle any classroom situation with elan and dignity.

• Must have complete and thorough knowledge of the subject that one has to teach. In addition to this knowledge, he/ she should have knowledge of other associated subjects also.

• A Yoga Teacher should have at least four to five years of solid practical experience. She/he should be well-versed in the theoretical aspect of Yoga, such as Yoga philosophy, and should be able to physically perform most of the Yoga postures and be proficient in imparting the techniques.

• Needs to have a thorough understanding of Asanas (Yoga postures), Pranayama (Yoga breathing techniques), a good understanding of human anatomy and physiology to apply the Yogic system effectively and safely.

• As a Yoga teacher, you will also need to understand the contraindications of certain Asanas and Pranayama practices. It will be helpful if you have an understanding of adapting the Yoga practices for various categories viz pregnant women, seniors, those whose range of physical movement is restricted (maybe by age or by illness) and children.

• Knowledge of Hatha Yoga, Raja Yoga, Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga is a must for a Yoga teacher.

• A Yoga teacher must teach in the language which the students understand. Should come down to the level of the taught & teach them.

• It is the duty of the teacher that he should show love, affections, sympathy and magnanimity to the weaker students in the class. It is very important to go down to their level & pay due attention to them.

• There should be a desire to do something new every time. Rishi Patanjali has said that lot of interest is required to bring in novel ideas in teaching.

• One should have mental flexibility and absolutely no rigidity. Love from the heart; leave yourself fully free, there should be no lust, anger or deception. There should be no impurity in the mind & head. Never be a hypocrite.

• The Yoga teacher should also be a person that is caring about the student's form and should provide all manner of assistance while teaching Yoga and encourage the students to learn the skills. In addition, the students should also find that their queries are adequately answered, and that the teacher is attentive to their concerns. Also, the Yoga teacher should be capable of changing and modifying the exercises depending on the capability of students.

• There should be no vested interest in the mind of the Guru.

• Remember that God is prevalent in places where there is love and harmony amongst each other. A teacher must create such an environment. A devoted teacher begets devoted students.

• The teaching of Yoga should not be altered, restricted or constrained by the ideas and attitude of the students. In fact you should be able to change and modify them by your teaching. In your teaching plan, always begin with the basics and try to be simple. During the learning process you should raise the level when it comes to teaching advanced and intricate details but it should be done slowly and gradually. Make sure that students are assimilating the complex details and then only move to the next segment. Hence, simplicity of instruction, simplicity of practice and simplicity in guiding the students should become the hallmark of a Yoga teacher. Be humble about your knowledge and never try to show or prove that you know more than other teachers.

IDEALS OF A YOGA TEACHER

• A Yoga Teacher has to be totally devoted and motivated to perform this sacred task of spreading Yoga awareness in the society. The main theme should be to help people achieve greater physical and mental well-being, rather than doing so purely for monetary gains.

• Knowledge must be imparted in a safe and harmonious manner so that students can achieve optimum results.

• Punctuality and discipline is the hallmark of a Yoga teacher. Same qualities must be inculcated in the students as well by personal example and by leading from the front.

• There is no limit to learning. There should be a constant endeavor to keep exploring into the depths of this great art.

• Proficient communication is a very important aspect of a teacher. A Yoga teacher must train to achieve the highest standards in this skill.

• Impartiality towards the students is another very important quality of an instructor. This must be imbibed.

• A Yoga Teacher should always follow the moral ethics of Yama & Niyama and encourage the students to follow these principles in their daily lives. This will bring about calmness and other positive effects in them. This will also ultimately help remove stress, which is the main cause of all psychosomatic disorders.

SOME TEACHING TIPS

• The teacher must make an effort to be in a positive state of mind before starting the class. The mind should be totally worriless and no backlog of previous work should be weighing heavily on the head. It should not be happening that you are teaching the students to relax while your own mind is under pressure and tension.

• Before starting the class, the teacher should ensure that everybody is in the right frame of mind by doing ten minutes of Meditation. In those ten minutes of meditation they should identify with the principles of Yoga and become a part of the same.

• When you are teaching Asanas, Pranayama, body work, bone work, muscle work and energy work, you are in tune with your bodies, with your movements, with your breath but you are not managing your mind. Training on Meditation and specific Sadhana must be co-opted to improve teaching ability as also to improve mental agility.

• A Yoga Teacher should explain the benefits of each Asana to students to encourage them to perform the posture properly and effectively.

• A Yoga Teacher should always inquire if students have any physical or psychological problems right at the start of each class so that necessary precautions can be taken to ensure safety in the class.

• A Yoga Teacher should be able to arouse curiosity in students and encourage them to ask questions in class. A good teacher clears the students’ doubts and encourages them in their Yoga path by answering these questions sincerely with a smile rather than being irritated by them.

• As a rule, every teacher must maintain a diary in which they should make an effort to imbibe, implement and practice the principles of Yoga in addition to the practices of Yoga. Pick up one principle of Yoga at a time and work with it for a month, so that it becomes your Sadhana as a teacher for a month. Then pick up another principle and work with that for another month, and keep on working in this way.

• What are these principles? Many Yoga teachers do not know what their strengths, weaknesses, ambitions and needs are. So Yoga teachers must practice Sadhana regularly. Just as you prepare your classes by turning the pages of a book and making notes and you get ready to go out in public to give a class or lecture. In the same manner you should be able to look at the diary and recognise what you are and where you are, and what is highlighted in your life at that moment. Which strength is highlighted, which weakness is highlighted, which is circumstantial, which is internal, which is a Samskara, which is a desire. In that way, teachers must monitor their own mental states.

• Swami Sivananda has given very clear indications on the Yogic principles that one should try to imbibe in life. They are known as the Eighteen Ities: serenity, regularity, absence of vanity, sincerity, simplicity, veracity, equanimity, fixity, non-irritability, adaptability, humility, tenacity, integrity, nobility, magnanimity, charity, generosity and purity. As a teacher, for one month practice serenity for ten minutes before your class, and then conduct the class, maintaining that state of serenity. As a Yoga teacher, for one month, practice absence of vanity. First, observe your vanity, then try to control your reactions, your ego, your pride, and conduct the class, observing yourself, as well as the students.

CONCLUSION
As a net result, Yoga teachers should become more humble students because along with teaching in the class, they should be learning to manage themselves. When we have the idea of teaching, we identify with the ego. 

When there is ego identification, then connecting with Yogic principles is not possible. Telling people how to practice Yoga or how to teach Yoga is not really the criterion of a Yoga teacher. In order to excel as a Yoga teacher, after the training you have to identify with the principles of Yoga rather than with the practices. Teach people the practices of Yoga, but for yourself practice the principles of Yoga. 

Only by training yourself on how to manage your own mental agitation and negativity can you become a good Yoga teacher.A good Yoga teacher would also be one that is compassionate and who can spare time to guide the students through Meditation and also help them to relax. These are major areas within Yoga and the teacher should be adept in teaching them. Beware of a teacher that simply wants to rush through the various aspects and is only interested in getting the workouts finished and done with.

Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna
Aum Shanti