By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP
I am often asked by employers about how to find the right Yoga teacher and how to evaluate a teacher. Whether you are a teacher, health club owner, program coordinator, or a potential student, it is important to accurately evaluate a teacher. It is very important for students to find the best possible teacher and it’s wise for instructors to know which qualities to develop. That said, here is a short resource for students, teachers, and facilities to use as a reference.
The following is the “CALM check list.” These factors are basic criteria that your Yoga instructor should meet before you continue on to a second class. CALM gets it name from four main factors: Communication, Assist, Listen, and Modification. For the right Yoga instructor, you should be answering with a “yes” to all questions.
Communication: Does your teacher talk with you, and other students, in a manner of mutual respect? Can you ask a question during class time? Does your teacher show compassion for you and other students? Does your Yoga teacher take the time to lead you through a guided meditation or relaxation? Meditation and relaxation are major aspects of practice.
There are teachers who just want to get “their workout” done. Beware of teachers, who are so important, they don’t have time for you. Some students love this air of superiority and, unfortunately, some people love abuse. If you want to learn Yoga, you need an open line of communication with your teacher.
Assist: Does your teacher care about your form? Does your instructor watch you and other students. Will your teacher give you a verbal or physical assist during your class? Are props and modifications available in your classes?Some students never have major problems with alignment and some do, but if your teacher doesn’t give verbal cues, what does that tell you?
Listen: Does your Yoga teacher take the time to listen to your feedback? Is your instructor “in the moment” with the class? Once in a while, there is a Yoga instructor who runs, “The-it’s-all-about-me-show.” You are not going to learn anything from this type of teaching. Beginners will be put at risk, trying to keep up with a seasoned teacher who doesn’t explain anything.
Modification: Does your Yoga teacher allow modifications and props in class? If your teacher discourages props, you are in the wrong place. Some students will need props for life depending upon their range of motion. Just because a teacher can do a posture without props, doesn’t mean every student can.
Summary: Stay away from abusive teachers, and if you are attracted to abuse, there is always professional help. Some students crave “the stern, but loving parent” types. They will push you harder, but how much pushing do you really need?
Respect is a two way street, and you deserve as much respect as your Yoga instructor does. Let common sense be your guide. You should feel good after a Yoga training session, and you might even feel a little muscle soreness days after a vigorous class. Now that you know how find the right Yoga teacher, please make sure your teacher meets the above criteria before making a commitment.
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