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With yoga becoming increasingly popular there are more varieties of styles, studios and teachers than ever before! To someone who is new to yoga, it can be difficult to find a class that’s just right for you. Yoga is for everyone, it’s simply a matter of finding those styles and teachers that resonate with you and will inspire you to thrive. Here are a few components to look for in a yoga instructor or a specific class or style.

Knowledge

Educated teachers will provide a concise, general shape of the pose, while also providing tips in the form of clear if-then statements. For example, “If your shoulders hunch, try pushing your shoulder blades back and down” Detailed descriptions of proper form will also be offered with more educated teachers. For example, “Before stepping back into down dog, frame your foot with your hands.” An aware teacher will also offer modifications, variations, even offer props or more accessible steps to help you ease into difficult poses. Most importantly an educated yoga instructor will offer insight and tips for students to progress and find results without pain or injury.  

Compassion

Yoga should be fun and positive. If it becomes too rigid and focused, it will feel like a job and eventually you will get tired of it. It’s important to remember that every day is different. A good yoga teacher will demand that you try your best in an encouraging way that’s not aggressive or demeaning. If you have questions, a teacher should make themselves available, either before or after class.  

Motivation

Yoga is most beneficial when you’re physical and mental limits are challenged, but without crossing the line. A teacher who helps you ride against that threshold intelligently but fearlessly is gold. That type of class will keep you advancing effortlessly and coming back time and time again.  

Inspiration

A great yoga class leaves you feeling uplifted, cleansed and fully alive. I enjoy yoga the most when I’ve taken time to set a meaningful intention for the class like strength, grace, commitment, or patience.  The technical components of yoga are necessary; however, if you don’t feel more aware and vibrant afterward, you’re not getting the full experience. Yoga uniquely connects body with mind, and with the right teaching, it inspires real-life changes.  

Honesty

Although the stereotypical yoga voice can be relaxing and enjoyable, an authentic teacher should be themselves completely and often solace can be found with a more genuine tone. This means using less yoga jargon and more everyday language to connect with students. A teacher who is authentic let’s his or her unique personality shine and can thus relate with students. A good teacher will be honest with you; they are confident enough to tell you when you are doing something incorrect or misaligned, but at the same time, good yoga teachers are humble. They don’t pretend to be perfect.  

Consistency

There should be consistency in a yoga class. When an instructor shows up prepared and confident to teach, there is a logical yet progressive sequence throughout class. There should be at least 10-15 minutes of familiar poses every class; it’s a good way to gain an understanding of the fundamental positions while noticing progress. The prerequisites for attempting more advanced poses in class is preparing for basic poses.  

Empowerment

Your progress should be celebrated! Yoga should make you feel good about being yourself and accepting all your imperfections. A common misconception with yoga is that it’s always calm and peaceful. Yoga is meant to bring up real emotions, emotions that you actually face in life. For yoga to be most beneficial, it will not only invoke feelings of bliss, but also frustration or confrontation. Yoga should teach you to navigate through thick and thin. A strong teacher will guide you, yet will allow you to do it yourself.  

Value

Most importantly, the class has to work for you. The poses are fun and playful, but it only matters if the practice inspires you to do the things you enjoy most in life. If it’s not helping you live life to the fullest, then what’s the point?

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