Yoga provides great stress relief and other health benefits. The Mayo Clinic recommends yoga for stress management and relaxation, and medical journal articles have proven yoga’s effectiveness in treating serious medical conditions such as arthritis, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression and multiple sclerosis.
How do you make sure that you get the great stress relief and other benefits of yoga? Easy! Ask any yoga teacher the questions listed below. If the teacher’s answers closely match the ideal answers, you have found a great teacher.
QUESTION 1: DO YOU PRACTICE YOGA NOW?
IDEAL ANSWER 1: YES, I PRACTICE YOGA EVERY DAY.
If you wanted to learn to ride a bicycle, would you take lessons from someone who wrote a book about bicycles but had never actually ridden a bike? Only if you wanted to find the quickest way to fall off the bicycle! No amount of reading or theoretical knowledge will enable you to understand how to ride a bicycle. Sooner or later you have to get on the bike. The same is true of yoga. Only someone who is currently practicing yoga can safely and effectively teach you how to do yoga.
QUESTION 2: ARE YOU CURRENTLY TAKING LESSONS WITH A YOGA TEACHER?
IDEAL ANSWER: YES, I STUDY WITH A QUALIFIED TEACHER IN A RECOGNIZED YOGA TEACHING STYLE.
Even your yoga teacher needs a yoga teacher. Why? Yoga is a process, and there is always more to learn. Everyone learns more about yoga by getting feedback from a great teacher. You want your yoga teacher to be aware of the latest discoveries on how to teach yoga. The best way for your teacher to do this is to take lessons with another yoga teacher.
QUESTION 3: WHAT TYPE OF YOGA DO YOU TEACH, AND HOW DID THAT STYLE OF TEACHING YOGA DEVELOP?
IDEAL ANSWER: I TEACH “Y” STYLE OF YOGA WHICH HAS EXISTED FOR AT LEAST 10 YEARS.
If a yoga teaching style has existed for at least 10 years, the teachers in that system know the best ways to teach and the pitfalls to be avoided. In addition, if a situation comes up that your teacher does not know how to handle, your teacher will be able to ask a more experienced teacher in that teaching style for advice.
QUESTION 4: WHAT TYPE OF YOGA TEACHER TRAINING HAVE YOU HAD?
IDEAL ANSWER: I HAVE COMPLETED (OR AM CURRENTLY ENROLLED IN) A 500 HOUR TEACHER TRAINING PROGRAM WHICH INCLUDES CLASSES, EXAMS, AND APPRENTICE TEACHING.
Suppose a pipe burst in your house and sent a fountain of water gushing through your kitchen. Uh-oh, you need a plumber! There are two plumbers in your neighborhood: Plumber Smith and Plumber Jones. Plumber Smith used to be an electrician but took a one weekend plumber certification course and is now a plumber. Plumber Jones enrolled in a year long plumbing certification course at a special plumber training school, passed the plumbing certification exam, and apprenticed for one year under a master plumber. Which plumber would you choose?
Since yoga can have an enormous impact on your health, shouldn’t you take as much care in choosing a yoga teacher as you would in choosing a plumber? Your yoga teacher should be enrolled in or have completed a yoga teacher training course that lasts at least one year, and includes classes on how to do yoga, classes on how to teach yoga, apprentice teaching under a certified and experienced teacher, and certification exams.
One of the most comprehensive yoga teacher training programs in existence is the Iyengar Yoga Teacher Certification Program. If you are new to yoga, or suffer from a disease or injury, I strongly recommend that you seek out a certified Iyengar Yoga teacher.
QUESTION 5: DOES YOUR YOGA TEACHER HAVE A KIND AND EMPATHETIC HEART?
IDEAL ANSWER: YES.
Only you can determine if the answer to this question is yes.
A kind yoga teacher really cares about his or her students.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that a teacher is quiet or a pushover. A teacher may speak loudly because your attention has wandered off and he or she is trying to get your attention back. A kind yoga teacher will carefully watch what you are doing, and guide you into doing yoga more correctly. Find a great yoga teacher, follow his or her instructions, and the health and stress relief benefits of yoga will be yours!