October 3, 2013

How to Get the Most Out of Your Yoga Teacher.

Photo: Taro Smith

Like any art form, the more we know about it, the greater access we have to the full glory of that art form.

Think of a sport like football: if you have no idea how the game is played, then the game is only as enjoyable as, well, maybe the beer and chips on the coffee table. But once you know what’s going, on you can follow the excitement and a whole world opens up.

Yoga is no different. We can flow to the simple-to-comprehend: “Inhale do this and exhale do that” and we’ll sweat and become more strong and flexible, but the practice may not be sustainable, fulfilling or as enriching as it could be if we delved a little deeper into our understanding.

To get the most out of your yoga teacher and the practice of yoga, you’ll want to share a little bit of yourself and be curious.

First of all, it’s okay not to get it or understand what the teacher is saying—I’ve been there many a time with zero comprehension in yoga class.

It took me forever to understand half the things my yoga teachers were telling me, but after asking questions, I started to make some progress on my understanding. Most of us don’t want to disrupt the flow of class to ask a question and some of us are afraid to admit that we don’t understand.

But here’s the deal: most yoga teachers are dying for you to ask your questions! Not only do they welcome your questions, they are hoping you’ll ask!

I’ll never forget the time I was teaching at a resort in St. Lucia when a student from Queens, New York belted out in front of the British tourists in the room, “Amy, I don’t know what the hell you’re talkin’ about!” As jarring as it was, I was grateful for her feedback!

It’s not just questions—yoga teachers are also hoping for two-way communication.

A good yoga teacher will be sensitive to your needs, might remember your name, will make sure you are modifying poses when needed and sometimes might seem like she or he can read your mind.

That said, most times they still have no way of knowing what’s truly happening inside your body unless you tell them.

As a yoga student, you have the right to approach your teachers and inform them about what you have going on or to stop and ask a clarifying question!

You will have more control over your class experience when you communicate with your teacher about your fears, discomfort you’re having, injuries and/or questions. It will also help your teacher become better at what they do.

Come to yoga with an inquisitive mind and a willingness to share your needs.

You will get it all, if you simply ask!


Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Bryonie Wise



You must be logged in to post a comment. Create an account.

sacredsourceyoga Oct 7, 2013 8:51pm

Brillz, as in brilliant. I teach yoga and really, really appreciate when students ask questions, let me know they are confused, that I said "left" when I meant right (or "toe" when I meant "knee"), that class was too fast or two slow, etc etc. When the students hang out and ask questions, I'm much more likely to remember their name and the fact that they broke their left toe years ago. There are ways to ask during class that aren't jarring, and if I'm leading something super complicated, I'll straight up ask: raise a leg if any of that complicated business that just exited my mouth didn't make sense. You learn as a student + I learn as a teacher = the whole world gets smarter and happier. 🙂 thanks Amy!

Yogini On The Loose Oct 7, 2013 8:22pm

Yes! And pleae don't be afraid to make facial expressions in class! I find that I rely on that look of recognition, or confusion or whatever the look may be to know if what I'm talking about is making sense, landing well, etc. We rarely stare blankly at our friends when they're talking to us – I'd like to think when we're in class together, we're friends too! 🙂 I love questions too!! Thanks Amy for writing this!

Mizboognish Oct 4, 2013 8:07am

Yes. Ask questions. I have had an amazing teacher that gave ample space for questions. I think it's important to have this type of teacher in your arsenal. It's a little off putting when the teacher arrives 1 minute before class and leaves 1 minute after class giving no space for learning. Asana is hard and confusing especially on your head.

Read Elephant’s Best Articles of the Week here.
Readers voted with your hearts, comments, views, and shares:
Click here to see which Writers & Issues Won.

Amy Ippoliti

Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life. Amy is a pioneer for advanced yoga education serving both students as well as fellow yoga teachers. She co-founded 90Monkeys.com, an online professional development school that has enhanced the skills of yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. She has graced the covers of Yoga Journal and Fit Yoga Magazine and has been featured in Yoga International, Self, Origin Magazine, New York Magazine, Yogini Magazine (Japan), Allure (Korea), Elephant Journal, intent.com, and many more. Amy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute, Esalen and Kripalu. She is a regular presenter at the Yoga Journal Conferences, Omega Institute Conference, Wanderlust Festivals, and The Hanuman Festival. Since the age of 14 Amy has been a champion of all forms of eco-consciousness, animal conservation and more recent forays into marine conservation. Website: amyippoliti.com . Hang with Amy on Facebook: AmyIppolitiPage Talk to Amy on Twitter: @Amy-Ippoliti Pin with Amy on Pinterest and share your pics with her on Instagram.