What makes a good yoga teacher?

For those of you who have signed up to the YLP Teacher Training starting in September here is a great interview with Donna Farhi on what makes a good yoga teacher. Talking to the Yoga Lunchbox, Donna tells the world…

Because I train teachers I’ve had a great deal of time to consider what makes a good teacher. I can tell you straight off it has very little to do with whether a teacher can do virtuosic movements and everything to do with their interpersonal skills.

That is, are you good with people? Do you know how to listen? Do you truly care about others and genuinely feel satisfaction when your students show progress?

I’ve known teachers who have all the moves, but they have been unsuccessful in generating any kind of student body because they are just terrible in their interactions with others. I have colleagues who, while capable and refined in their practice are not highly adept at difficult asanas, but they often have very successful studios because they offer safe and practical instruction, and a loving environment and community for their students.

Hopefully you might recognise in Donna’s insight, how we have set up the YogaLife Project and how we teach and convey the joy and benefits of yoga practice. It’s great to see a wonderfully executed posture but as you know for a real yoga state to emerge and flow it’s not what you do its how you do it that is the key. It will be the same with our Teacher Training. Remember, Patanjali described in the Yoga Sutras, the postures are only mastered when they become ‘effortless’ in the moment – Not how they appear to look to others or some self-generated ideal. So our teacher training emphasis will be on what you can do as a teacher of yoga, to build that open, creative, loving and safe place for people to open up and as we sometime say in class…’know and let go’

Most of you know Mick only occasionally demonstrates postures in class, preferring instead to use good descriptions, hands on adjustments and every now and then asking a particular student to go through a particular sequence. This is important for a number of reasons.

1. The teacher will not be warmed up.

2. If the teacher practicing his/her yoga in class they are not paying  attention to the students. This is selfish and dangerous.

3. A good teacher will never ever sit at the front and just shout out instructions. The teacher is ‘in the class’ with the students moving around, encouraging, adjusting and gently and lovingly helping everyone achieve what they can do.

Donna goes onto say,

I think there are definitely different levels of teacher depending on the depth of what you wish to transmit. Some teachers are very happy to offer a basic and safe introduction to practices such as asana and pranayama. I don’t see this as hierarchical because helping people to use these practices is a great gift to humanity. Well done!

But perhaps the teacher is interested in sharing how one might dive into the revelation of our indivisible oneness, which is the deeper wisdom teachings of Yoga. How can I help the student to see through the obscurations to that realisation?

So being a teacher of yoga is really about you as a yogi, as a fully realised human being. That is why teaching comes to you when you are ready. And you are ready…

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