The Role Of A Yoga Teacher

by admin on September 24, 2013

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The Role Of A Yoga Teacher


I don’t think that there is a human alive today who doesn’t want more information. Everyone is hungry for constructive advice and instruction that will enable them to grow or to get things done. People want the best that’s available, they want it all laying out in front of them and in this instance, they want a yoga teacher to show them how to do it.


Today’s yoga student expects more than they are willing to pay for.

Those looking typically expect a yoga class to be a little bit keep fit in nature, to find it in either the village hall or a David Lloyd leisure center and it has to be perfect. The class has to be all laid on – agreeable music, a selection of clean mats they can use for free, a warm room and a teacher that not only looks the part but knows their subject intimately. We humans are deletion creatures and if we can find any opportunity to say no, then we will find it. This reactive rejection is not consciously done, it’s just what we’ve been programmed to do, so we do it. As a yoga teacher, I must be flexible enough to meet and even surpass the students expectations whilst remaining true to myself.


We live in a culture of immediacy, ease and complaint yet yoga is none of these things.

Your beliefs as a student are going to be tested on every level by yoga and the further you have to travel to get to yoga (and I don’t mean how far you have to drive) the greater the challenge you’re going to face. Until we learn differently, it is human nature to compare the new against the old – be it beliefs, methods, rules etc, and it is my job as a yoga teacher to allow this challenge to happen without it becoming a place of anger.


Thinking back through my yoga, I remember the physical pain, the frustration and then that point when I realized that I was angry not with the teacher or the pose but with myself.

Only then could I soften my mind, let it go and allow my physical body to soften also. And it happens again and again and again. In yoga we teach that movement follows breath, which is true, but it takes a while longer to realise that movement follows mind. If the mind is weak, then the body will be weaker.

The expectations of the modern student are somewhat predictable because the chances of the student being on a spiritual path on day one are quite low but their interest in yoga as a solution to boredom or weight and health problems is more likely. I say it is this area where today’s yoga teacher has to focus their concentration because it is relatively simple to approximate a student’s physical ability but why, the real reason why they are in the class in the first place, is harder to pin-point. Understanding this is vital to the students retention and development.


Yes the spiritual awareness may come later but this often overlooked aspect – the understanding of desire, motivation, ego and self improvement – is fundamental to the success of a yoga teacher.

A yoga instructor has to deal with what I call the complex group. It’s not just people in my class but all the beliefs, rules and regulations that they bring with them too. I’m taking the physical aspect out of the role of the yoga teacher, albeit only temporarily, so I can look at what motivates my students. What is it that sparks the interest in a person and then encourages them to seek me out? What is it that compels a student to return to the second class – which is the most important class they will ever take?

So what is the role of the Yoga teacher? From the students point of view, the first thing they must know is who I am and where to find me. Secondly, they must want what I have to offer. Thirdly, they must be willing to give up what they have and do and yoga must be seen as more valuable than what it is replacing. Lastly, they must believe in me. It is an obligation, a duty, to become a students teacher whilst remaining true to my own obligations.


If the teacher has nothing to teach then there is no student. If the student has nothing to learn, there can be no teacher.

From the teachers point of view, we must always put the student first and whoever the student is, we must welcome them with an open heart. We must strive to be a role model and an inspiration. We must endeavor to teach at the highest level we can. We must work safely and precisely yet maintaining an air of fun and variety. Finally, we must offer a future to our students and whatever it takes to achieve this is worthy of our highest consideration.

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