yoga teacherBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

Is “ultimate” too strong or competitive of a word to describe a Yoga teacher? After all, there is a lot of competition for students in some geographic areas. In San Francisco and Los Angeles, California, there seems to be a studio on every block.

Yet, many potential students do not know the difference between Jnana, Karma, Raja, Bhakti, Vinyasa, Restorative, or Pilates, for that matter. How could these same people make an educated judgment call on who is the “Ultimate Yoga Teacher?”

Some new students want to be physically, mentally, and verbally abused by the “Ultimate Yoga Teacher.” They crave the abusive attention and search for the reincarnation of the Marquis de Sade.  Sorry to say – this is true, but very rare.  Now, with that said, this clearly makes you realize that new students do not know what they really want, and some are much like confused children.

So, what are the qualifications for the title of “Ultimate Yoga Teacher?” Is it teaching Yoga to the rich and famous, gaining a lot of loving students, owning a lot of profitable studios, making many videos, performing physical feats, or owning a patent?

All of these things could make you famous, but none of them seem to completely fit, with the image of a Guru. What standards set one teacher above the rest?  The truth is great Yoga instructors are good examples of ethics, giving, integrity, patience, and living a holistic life.

There is so much confusion, in regard to this topic, because many times it is not the teacher, but the style, that a beginner student does or does not like.  For example: If a teacher is excellent, but the room is too hot, some of those new students will never be back.

Student retention often depends upon the particular training, which students seek. Do students want to meditate, sing, pray, move through postures, learn Yogic philosophy, hold postures (Asanas), work on their breathing (pranayama), sweat in a 105 degree Fahrenheit room, or study in a Mommy and Me class? There are so many types of Yogic methodology to choose from.

This is only the tip of the “ice berg,” as new contemporary styles are springing up all the time. So how can you guide potential students in your direction? One way is to state what makes your particular teaching method unique.

Some teachers specialize in specific areas. For example: Hot, Prenatal, Therapeutic, Restorative, Power, and Chair are contemporary prefixes to Yoga. It is fine to be a general practitioner, but having a niche, or two, will draw students into areas of Yogic methodology, which you are enthusiastic about.

When Yoga teachers are enthusiastic, they demonstrate patience, and they “glow” with praise for their students. No two students are alike, but teachers should still be the best visible examples of ethics, giving, integrity, patience, and living a holistic life.


How to Become a Yoga Instructor

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