How to Find a Good Teacher

published in the Autumn 2013 Yoga Bridge

by Donalee Campbell
Coordinator, YAA Teacher Training & Certification Program

It is not always easy to find a good yoga teacher. As the YAA has a mandate to promote and maintain high standards of yoga teacher training in Alberta, all YAA Certified Teachers have met a minimum of 300 hours of training with at least 2 years spent under the mentorship of a Senior Teacher. For most students, a teacher with these qualifications is a good place to start, but the options can still be quite daunting.

For those embarking on the path of yoga teacher training, this decision
carries even more weight. Students of the YAA Teacher Training Program (TTP) choose their own mentor, and their progress in the program is dependent upon the study and practice that they do with their Senior or Intermediate Teacher.

1. – The Yoga Association of Alberta has a directory listed on the “Find A Teacher” page of their website. This directory is a free service open to all teachers in Alberta. Teachers now have the ability to update their own listings and can provide information on their class offerings, class locations, and their credentials. The initials “YAA” designate YAA Certified Teachers and a link to the full listing of abbreviations used in the directory is posted at the top of the page. Any term or combination of terms can be entered into the search box to help you narrow your search by location, style, specialty, training, etc. Contact information is listed and some teachers have links to their own websites that may provide further information. Feel free to contact the teacher to ask for more information. You may be able to get a feel for their style by e-mail or phone.

For YAA-TTP students, entering the terms “yaa senior” or “yaa intermediate” into the search box will bring up listings of teachers with that respective status. All YAA-TTP students are required to attend a minimum of 100 hours weekly classes with a YAA Senior Teacher, plus 40 hours of apprenticeship.  If a Senior Teacher is not easily accessible, weekly classes can be taken with YAA Intermediate Teachers. YAA Senior Teachers have at least 10 years of teaching experience and 20 years of practice. YAA Intermediate Teachers have at least 6 years of teaching experience and 10 years of practice. Some teachers offer studio-based teacher training programs, while others run weekly classes with individualized attention to teacher trainees.

2. Ask around. Ask for referrals from other yoga students. Ask your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours. Remember that all types of people do yoga; you may be surprised at how many do. When you find a yoga student, ask them if they like their classes and why. Most yogis are more than happy to share their passion with others.

If you are a TTP student, ask your current teacher, past teachers, or your peers. If you like a teacher’s style but the teacher is not yet qualified, ask them who they studied under? Who would they recommend?

3. Try some classes. Check out classes near you. A good location can allow you to be more consistent in attending classes; dedication and perseverance allow for optimal growth. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Some teachers will allow you to drop-in to classes or to have a trial period. If you don’t like the teacher or their style, try another. You may even learn more about what you do want through a class you don’t like.

Students registered in the YAA-TTP are required to take the monthly Saturday classes held at Riverdale Hall as well as the TTP Teaching Skills Workshops. These provide a great opportunity to try out different Senior Teachers in the Edmonton area. In Red Deer, YARD follows the same syllabus.

4. Most importantly, follow your heart. Having faith and opening to synchronicities are important steps on the path of yoga. Look for someone who leads the students in a way you respect and admire. Although your teacher may not be perfect, they should spark your own potential and inspire you in some way. Trust your intuition and go where your heart leads you. The teachers that are easiest to find may just be the perfect fit for you! If not, don’t despair. There are many options available, and many paths to the same source. Just keep following where your heart leads you, and stay open to what each moment offers. An ancient adage sometimes known as the guru principle states that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

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