3 Signs Your Yoga Teacher is Not Right for You.

Via Kimberly Lo
on Oct 4, 2013
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Guru?  I think not!

Pity the poor yoga teacher.

As a rule, we are not well-paid. We are also not well-respected. Lastly, we aren’t even that well-liked.

While it is true that there are some bad, narcissistic teachers out there that are more concerned with showing off their impressive poses and posting photos of themselves in those poses on Instagram and Facebook, the fact is, most of us who teach do so because we sincerely love yoga and the people whom we teach.

At least that is the reason why I teach and continue to teach despite the fact that there is no way in hell I could ever live off my earnings as a yoga instructor.

Still, despite this, I am by no means perfect nor am I the right teacher for every student who walks into my class. Admitting the latter is hard. A good teacher can and should be able to differentiate for the different body types, skill level, etc. of the students who take his or her class. However, it’s impossible for one instructor to be everything to everyone.

Sometimes, the problem isn’t even my teaching style but rather for whatever reason, the student just doesn’t gel with my personality.

Recognizing that you need a new teacher can be helpful for a number of reasons. A good one is that rather than blame yourself or your body or quitting yoga altogether, you get a better idea of what you are looking for and that idea can aid you in finding a teacher who can help you on your journey.

So, how do you know that your yoga instructor is not the one for you? Below are some tips:

1. Your teacher does not give you feedback or says everything is fine or good when you ask for it.

As an instructor, I know how hard it can be to give all your students feedback especially if you have a lot of students in a class. (By “a lot” I generally mean 10 or more.) However, if you are regular student, you should be getting some sort of feedback or specific information if asked, “How is my practice?”

“Fine” or “good” is simply not enough. Even those with impressive physical practices should be told what exactly they are good at and what areas they may need to continue to work on.

Also, notice if your instructor only gives feedback or adjustments to the same students over and over again. If so, then that is a sign to speak up and ask why you aren’t getting the same attention.

If it continues to happen, then take it as a clear sign to move on to someone else.

2. Your teacher has little to no experience teaching the sort of yoga you want to practice.

Some of you reading this may be scratching your head and wondering, “Isn’t that obvious?”

It should be, but sometimes it is not.

Many people who begin yoga have no idea about the different styles out there. Others may see clips of, say, an Ashtanga practice on YouTube and erroneously think all yoga is like that.

Even if you have no idea what the name of a certain style is, you can tell the teacher what sort of yoga you like by saying, “I like a slower/faster pace” or “I like practicing the same poses every class” or “I love to mix things up and love it when music is playing”.

Even if you don’t know what you like at first, you’ll soon find out.

It may turn out that your teacher is a great vinyasa teacher who can work their students into a sweat but could not teach an Iynegar-style class if their life depended on it.

3. You don’t get the right vibe from your teacher.

We’ve all met people who we did not have any valid reason to dislike but nonetheless, something just felt “off” about them.

Yoga teachers are no different in that regard. It may even be a situation where you really like this person but feel intimidated by them or cannot be open with them when it comes to expressing what you need or expect from their instruction.

While picking a yoga instructor isn’t the same as picking a friend, you need to be comfortable around them. If you aren’t, don’t stay around and try to figure out why. Instead, move on to another teacher.

Figuring out whether a yoga teacher is a good fit for you or not should not be difficult. However, it may not be immediately noticeable.

For those just starting out and deciding that they hate yoga or simply weren’t cut out for it, I strongly encourage you to try out at least one other instructor before coming to that conclusion.

Perhaps you just haven’t found your right teacher yet.


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.


Ed: Bryonie Wise








About Kimberly Lo

Kimberly Lo is a yoga instructor and freelance editor & writer based in Charlottesville, VA. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework, travel, and photography. Connect with her on Facebook.


6 Responses to “3 Signs Your Yoga Teacher is Not Right for You.”

  1. Caitlin says:

    Great read! I once attended a class where a visiting (and highly reputable) instructor was teaching, and he came to give me a couple adjustments. While on one hand these adjustments taught me where I was getting too comfortable in certain poses, on the other he pushed me way too hard into the "correct" pose as if he had no concern whatsoever over what kind of muscle imbalance I might (and did) have. All I can say is–ouch! If you are unfamiliar with a student and their health history, isn't it best to be gentle? First, do no harm! Even a highly regarded instructor may just be all wrong for you. I learned that one the hard way, and am no longer comfortable allowing just anyone out there come and adjust me.

  2. kimberlylowriter says:

    I've had similar things happen in workshops with "rock star" instructors.

    It really is so important to find the right instructor that will be the best fit for you and not necessarily for 20 other people. each body and person is different.

    Thanks for reading!

  3. Jakar says:

    "…. when it comes to expressing what you need or expect from their instruction". Honestly, please don't express what you want or need from a teacher's instruction. Sure, if you have an injury say so but please then just let them get on with it. Leave you ego at the door.

    Just do yoga, don't look for excuses. Just do it. The search is over, just do it.

    PS. I would love Elephant Journal to stop using that image of the guy with the bandana. It was funny five years ago.

  4. amphibi1yogini says:

    @Caitlin and Kimberlylo, that exact thing happened to me, too. However, I found out (online) that his career took several twists and turns since then; and he teaches mostly seminars (little to no asana) and private sessions now–is primarily a yoga marketing consultant. His in-class patter had been to die for; but I noticed some of his former students moved on to different styles.

    When a yoga teacher is young, brash and full of piss and vinegar, you just can't separate what comes out of his mouth with what is going on with his brutal adjustments.

  5. amphibi1yogini says:

    @Jakar, that guy is actor Avi Rothman (a.k.a. Ogden, The Inappropriate Yoga Guy, later popularized by Yoga Journal). I'm sure he's moved on since then. Sadly, these seem to be stock photos. No reason for these relics, except maybe recycling ….

  6. kimberlylowriter says:

    Jakar-Teachers-be them math teachers, yoga teachers, etc.-are only human. They are not perfect.

    You wrote: " Honestly, please don't express what you want or need from a teacher's instruction. Sure, if you have an injury say so but please then just let them get on with it. Leave you ego at the door. Just do yoga, don't look for excuses. Just do it. The search is over, just do it."

    I respectfully disagree. The search is not over because you found a teacher. As a yoga teacher, I can say there are some people out there who really should not teach yoga and do not know what they are doing.

    If you disagree, then just ask how many people have had a been injured by a yoga teacher.

    This has nothing to do with ego.