What makes a great yoga teacher? A great yoga student.

Since opening Nandi Yoga in 2008, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of people training to become yoga teachers.  This is partially due to more people practicing, but also because there are a lot more programs out there.  On one hand, the good news is that there are a lot more options for taking yoga classes (and more teachers)! On the other, the challenge for instructors is that there are more teachers out there and the competition is fierce (especially in the Bay Area).

Nandi does train teachers, although it wasn’t our original intent.  We knew which programs (both locally and around the world) were a great fit for the yoga we wanted to offer and consistent with our core values.  We planned on filling our teacher slots with graduates of these programs. However, once we opened our doors, we started getting inquiries from graduates of other programs who wanted to teach, so we auditioned people beyond the programs we originally targeted in search of great teachers.  Not everyone was ready to teach – some needed more time to hone their skills and others needed practice with the basics of teaching itself.

There are countless reasons why some emerge from trainings ready to go and others not, but I believe one factor is key – one’s practice.  In the old days, students would study for many years (usually with the same teacher) before undertaking a training.  This gave them time to learn how yoga impacted their bodies (physical, energetic, mental and spiritual) – a crucial step before one starts to think about how yoga could affect their students.  Nowadays, students can enter training programs without a well-established practice (and often look towards the training to help them advance as students).  In my opinion, it’s putting the cart before the horse. What’s the rush?

Yoga is a multi-faceted and amazingly complex discipline.  Some postures take years to master but doing a one-armed handstand doesn’t make a person a great student or a great teacher.  Students who want to become teachers need to first learn about the different aspects of yoga, including asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), meditation and philosophy and figure out what works for them. Underlying it all is one’s practice.  The more established a person can be in their practice, the more they can use what they learn on their mat to support and help others.  The learning doesn’t stop when a training ends, either.  The best yoga teachers consider themselves lifelong students.



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