When you are looking for a yoga teacher you need to understand that there are no national or international programs that certify yoga teachers and there probably never will because of the nature of the instruction of passing it down from teacher to student for thousands of years.
Even though there are no strict legislative requirements set down for instructors, does not mean that there is no guidelines you should follow to find a good one. Here you will find what some believe are the minimum requirements for a competent instructor.
Must practice yoga exercise, breathing and meditation daily – You can’t take a teacher seriously if they themselves do not have a sound foundation and is committed to yoga on a daily basis.
Should have regular contact with their own teacher – No good teacher can ever work effectively on their own, nor no one teacher can become so advanced that they do not need the continual guidance and support from their own teacher.
They should study the important yoga texts – Study is one of the special five observances that are part of the eight limbs of the yoga practice. A good teacher needs to have some knowledge that includes Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Bravado Gina. This is the minimum, ideally they should have knowledge in all world philosophies.
Ethical behavior – A good teacher is going to be well versed in the five yamas which means the five restraints that include non-violence, truthfulness, non-stealing, times of celibacy and non-hoarding.
They also need to practice the five niyamas which means observances such as purity, contentment, tolerance, study and the first two limbs of classical yoga. When a teacher practices this type of procedure the student is protected especially during a personal experience in a meditation state.
You will find that an ethical yoga instructor will conduct class in a safe, aware and responsible manner and makes sure that classes are not too large so students can receive individual attention from the instructor.
Observe a healthy vegetarian diet – Of course you don’t need to be a vegetarian to practice yoga, a yoga instructor should conform to different standards than the student. They also should not smoke, drink alcohol or take any kind of drugs.
Training in basis anatomy and the effects of yoga techniques – A good yoga instructor should be trained enough to be able to vary the yoga techniques for each student according to their own personal abilities and they also should be trained well enough to advise their students when it comes to the more common medical conditions like high blood pressure, back problems and arthritis.
They also should be trained well enough to notice when a student might need psychological counseling and have knowledge of the community services in the area.
Have the ability to separate yoga from religion – Remember, yoga is not a religion and it even predates Hinduism as well as many other well known religions. Yoga is a practice of techniques that are non-religious, trans-cultural practices and these practices help people develop a greater self-awareness.
It doesn’t require that students stick to a particular creed or belief or that they obey any prophet or god. It also is not ritualistic nor is it an occult and the texts of yoga are not scripture but guidelines on how to practice yoga safely.
So, a good teacher should never allow their religious beliefs intertwine with the practice of yoga.
These are the key things that you need to look for when you are trying to find a good yoga teacher. It will take time to research all of this, but in the end it will be well worth your time and effort.