What makes a great yoga teacher?
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” – BKS Iyengar
1) Connects people with themselves. Yoga is about choice and intuition. Your choice and Your intuition is what needs to come out, not someone else’s. Rather than lining up after class to receive the blessings of our teacher, we need to connect with our own blessings — what we all already have inside our selves. Good yoga strengthens us, rather than makes us dependent. A great teacher isn’t looking for the spotlight. Rather, the spotlight is entirely on and within each person.
2) Leads a good, healthy, happy life. Yoga is working for this teacher! It’s tough to share what you don’t have. When you live what you share, you can inspire others to find their own way, through their own intuition. A teacher can motivate people by sharing what they have read and heard. But motivation is never so powerful as inspiration — which can only come from what we feel through direct experience, what’s inside our own lives.
3) Understands how we are in a pose is more important than the appearance of a pose. This understanding fundamentally evolves yoga from striving for what you don’t have, to feeling what you do have. Interestingly enough, this is what makes it easy to do any pose you can imagine, to move in any way you can imagine, and to live in any way you can imagine. It’s all in our ability to feel. Feeling is much stronger than forcing.
4) Has strong self-awareness. Another way of saying this is a clear psychology, what we need to avoid tripping over ourselves. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect! It just means we can see. When we see ourselves, we connect with the choices that exist for us. This includes seeing and choosing how we can influence and inspire others. The people inspired by a great teacher are stronger, healthier, happier, more capable in their own lives. This clarity also makes it easier to understand and connect with people, which leads to many good things, compassion and ability to help among them.
5) Has a good sense of humour in the midst of serious things. Perhaps we can always be ready to smile, even in the midst of important work. A great teacher gives us an example of working through heavy things with ease, gentleness, softness. Not a pushover, but not confronting others and life like a concrete wall. When a teacher has a sense of authentic (not pretend) fun about them, everybody can feel this. It sets everyone at ease. When we’re at ease, it’s easier to go inside, to be inspired by our own selves.