By: Tim Franz, Master Tai Chi Instructor & Yoga Enthusiast
I am a new yogi, about two years now. Yoga has been wonderful for my mind and body. It is amazing what happens to the body after diligent practice. I can do things now that I found difficult when I started. Some of the teachers were very good and others needed some help. So, I thought I would share my thoughts and experiences about yoga teachers.
When I went to my first class ever, I introduced myself to the woman that seemed to be the leader. I told her it was my first class and that I had an artificial knee. She was very nice and said welcome and don’t worry.
So, I laid out my mat and sat down waiting for class to begin. I was surprised to see so many people at a yoga class at 3:30 pm on Saturday! Anyway, at 3:30 she said we’re ready to start, please get into child’s pose. I was like monkey see, monkey do! Simple enough.
Then the recording started and from the speakers came names of poses and the only one I knew was “down dog”. The teacher just walked about the room and would repeat the called-out pose. So, there I am, floundering about like a fish out of water. (I know it’s a tad cliché but true it is.)
I felt like a monkey and all I did was mimic what I saw others doing. Not knowing if I was doing the poses correctly or not.
Not once did the teacher check with me or show me anything.
I went back to that studio two more times and vowed never to return and I haven’t.
Because I was wanting a TEACHER not an instructor or worse, an attendant that did nothing.
My search began and I found a place where there were better instructors but slim on teachers.
Here is what I mean. An instructor says come to a seat, place your left hand on your right knee and place you right hand behind your back and now twist. A teacher says come to a seat and sit with a straight spine while placing you right hand behind your back while placing your left hand on your right knee. Remember to breathe and begin to twist on the exhale, continue to sit straight. Twist more on each exhale. Do not force, respect your body. Let me know if you need a modification.
An instructor will say you can use a block here if you want but a teacher will say I think you could benefit from using a block and then proceeds to show me how!
You see a teacher wants to impart her knowledge to her students. They are there to serve and guide students through the asanas. They see the students as individuals, with differing needs and abilities. They are willing to deviate from their plan to help someone learn.
Instructors instruct. They may as well phone it in.
I will return to a class if I know and FEEL like the teacher is there for me! A teacher wants to be there helping me become better at my practice. And above all, no judgement on my ability should I balk at a pose because of a limitation. A teacher will show an alternative pose. In other words, they know their “stuff.”
I note that many instructors have the necessary certifications and that’s wonderful they put in the time to earn it. However, in my opinion, an instructor only shares one aspect of yoga and describes the pose while a teacher imparts the art of yoga along with the deeper aspects of practicing yoga.
So, if you are wondering where to start, my suggestion is visiting several studios/centers and take a variety of classes before deciding which one fits your needs. Do some research into the various types of yoga because there are many and some may not be appropriate for your body and age.
You will find the perfect fit for you…just keep looking! It’s definitely worth the effort!