Yoga has become popular and is the preferred cardio, strength and flexibility exercise with 2.18 million Australians participating in yoga in the year to December 2017*. With the surge in available classes comes the dilemma of how to find a yoga teacher who will keep you safe and ensures your experience is one that serves you.
As yoga is an unregulated industry, pretty much anyone can call themselves a yoga teacher. There are an ever-increasing number of online yoga courses now being offered as well as month-long intensives that offer the opportunity for people to become “qualified” yoga teachers. Without industry regulation, not all yoga teachers are alike in experience. So where does that leave you when you are looking for a credible instructor? Here are some points that I recommend you follow to ensure that you are choosing as well as you can:
First, check if they are registered with one of the peak bodies in Australia
- Yoga Australia
- IYTA International Yoga Teachers Association
- Yoga Alliance
Being registered with one of the above will ensure that certain levels of requirement are met and that the course they have attended is recognised.
If you have concerns, talk to the teacher first and ask a few questions. Credible teachers:
- will ask you to fill out details about your current level of health and wellness
- will ask permission to come into your personal space and adjust you
- will honour your choice to say no to any hands on adjustment
- will ensure the class is paced to suit everyone they have allowed in
- will offer modifications or stages of practice to suit everybody
- will ensure adequate warm up or body preparation is carried out before attempting certain postures
- will encourage you to work at your own level of ability and allow you to take a break as you need to
- will encourage you to drink water and keep hydrated
- will demonstrate appropriately where required so that you can see what you are being asked to do
- will not point you out for not “performing” as they think you should be
- will honour your time by starting and finishing the class at the stated time
Unfortunately there are injuries occurring in yoga classes and it is important that you take responsibility for yourself by not following the rest of the class around you. Instead, stay present within yourself and notice your range of ability. Quite often less is more and taking the time to feel into your body is a very important aspect of yoga practice.
Yoga is non-competitive: it doesn’t matter what is going on next to you, you are there for YOU. Yoga is also so much more than a physical practice and it is important that you honour the fact that each time you come to a class and step onto the yoga mat, you are not in the same physical, emotional or mental state that you were the day or week before. Take the time to check in with these layers of your being and adjust your practice to suit what you need at that time. Yoga is very personal and therefore you need to ensure you find a class that allows you to be true to you.
*Roy Morgan research data