• Stephanie Spence

11 questions to ask yourself while looking for a great yoga teacher

Passionate about sharing exceptional yoga experiences with you so that you can get to your mat faster, I continue to excavate my vault of memories from forty years of practicing. Sitting in my hotel room in Bangkok waiting to be interviewed for a business of yoga podcast, I have to dig deep to remember what questions or concerns I had in the first ten years of practice. I do this so that I can hopefully cut through a lot of the noise of this ever changing global yoga landscape.


The information age has exposed more and more people to yoga, but the intimacy that you need with a teacher continues to be part of my recommendation for building a practice you love and will return to daily. With that in mind, I remain committed to sourcing out the real deal teachers; passionate, loving, certified yoga teachers who have the education, wisdom, experience and expertise to give you the full body, mind, and spirit system of living. If not, then it’s simply an exercise class moving your body in shapes that look like yoga poses.


I also am committed to sourcing out the real deal yoga studios. If not (as I mentioned in my last post) then “…I can’t help but wonder with every gym in America now offering yoga classes why anyone is going to join a so-so yoga studio that doesn’t offer all of the other incredible amenities and opportunities a full-blown health club does?”


Before I left Singapore I visited Yoga+. I’m happy to report that Yoga+ is affordable and offers great yoga classes. I had an exceptional teacher, Veron Alexis Ong. She showed deep concern for helping her students and I was inspired by her knowledge. I came away very impressed with her individual attention she gave to each student. Yoga+ clearly cares passionately about giving their students what they promise as their mission statement; “Yoga+ aims to expand its students’ experiences beyond the yoga mat following the ‘three-pillar’ experience, which is designed to teach them mindful living, inspire creative expression, and raise social awareness.” I highly recommend their studio.

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You want to get the most out of your yoga experience, right? I’ve got the secret.


Just reading and embodying the idea that yoga brings magic to your life encourages us to get to yoga daily. But where are you going wrong? You’re in a one-way relationship. That never works.


Here’s the secret: carve out the time to stop and really find a GREAT yoga teacher. Why settle for a good one. I encourage you to shoot for great. Why? Because with the majority of studios focusing on teacher training classes in the last ten years there is a surplus of new yoga teachers out there. But are they great?



the late Maty Ezraty, an exceptional teacher, assisting a student


You shouldn’t just take my word for it. I've interviewed hundreds of yoga teachers. They’re all cut from the same cloth: They became teachers because they love helping people. They want to see you grow. But there is caring (and good) and then there is an exceptional teacher. There is a difference. I became so obsessed with learning why, I rented an RV and embarked on a Yoga Road Trip.


One my Yoga Road Trip, I traveled up the west coast of the United States practicing with and interviewing a different yoga teacher every day. That became my book, “Yoga Wisdom: Warrior Tales Inspiring You On And Off Your Mat”. I learned from some of the teachers that I interviewed that most of the students in their class had not introduced themselves to them. That’s why I decided to introduce students to the teachers. The teachers in my book are dedicated to your growth. They thrive when you do. They want you to love your experience on your journey. That is why they teach yoga.


So the one thing you can do for yourself is source out an exceptional yoga teacher. It won’t simply be a class any more, you (and the teacher) will be accountable. Yoga is the most powerful system I know to offer you a lifetime of less stress and a healthy direction for a balanced life. You are designing your life. Accepting accountability, your life begins to change. Your reality is created by the choices you are making.


What are you waiting for? Reach down deep into your heart and ask yourself if you are worth it. You are. When you decide that you want an exceptional yoga teacher, do the work. Here's a couple of things to think about as you're out looking for a great teacher.


Top 11 questions to ask yourself

while looking for a great yoga teacher:


1. Do you immediately feel like you have been welcomed into a caring, safe, loving community?


2. Do they help you sort out and clarify your values?


3. Do you feel like they are helping you achieve a better, richer life? Strength and flexibility are guaranteed in a great yoga class, but it’s the mental benefits that will keep you coming back for more.


4. Is your teacher working hard to get you moving toward what you desire quickly?


5. Do you feeling like they are an expert at changing behavior or simply showing you how to move your body?


6. Are you finding out things about yourself? Great teachers point the way, allowing you to discover insights for yourself.


7. Even if you are comfortable, yoga and a “real deal” teacher can help you step out of your comfort zone. Here’s the truth: there’s only growth when you are out of your comfort zone. Great teachers make change attainable in a safe way. Is yours?


8. A yoga teacher will hold space for you to name your fears, give you tools to act despite them, and change the way you feel about them. Is yours?


9. A great teacher will show you how to listen to your intuition and apply that to your life. Is yours?


10. Do they validate your success and progress? If so, that can be incredibly empowering. Your success should be acknowledged and celebrated.


11. If you have been engaging in destructive behaviors you should feel welcome. A great teacher will help you get yourself back on track. A great teacher can guide you back to a healthy path. To have the courage to ask for help is a sign of someone who is ready to do the work. A teacher can listen to your issues in an unbiased and supportive manner, and help you with an action plan.


And if you’re just starting and/or making a change to find a new teacher make sure and check their credentials. Do your homework. Ask the studio or gym if they are certified. Certifications matter. Even if it’s yoga in the park that you found on a social site, they should be proud to share with you how long they have been teaching, where they studied, and who they are certified by. In the social online world, there are many self taught peacocks posing in dangerous positions because they saw someone else do it and calling themselves a teacher. Proper alignment and attention could make all the difference in how long you practice. You don’t want torn muscles, blown out shoulders, or your knees replaced because of unhealthy sequencing.


Learn from the best and you’ll practice for life. Once you’ve studied your roadmap, you’re on your way to living a life full of potential.


Here in Bangkok I’ve selected a couple of studios to check out. First on my list, Divine Yoga.

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About Me

The Tales of The Traveling Yogini TM

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With an eye towards the future, but steeped in wisdom from 39 years of practicing yoga Stephanie Spence is a Yoga Educator, Author, Inspirational Speaker, Activist, Entrepreneur and Creative Leader. 

 

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