Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A good yoga teacher

The most frequent question I get from a student is,"Can I do yoga?" I like to end the question with just one word 'depends'. But here's my advice to everyone out there who's new to it or who's considering taking up yoga classes again.

Here are things you should be looking out for and questions you should ask a yoga teacher:-

1) A friend's recommendation to a yoga class is good but please do check the teacher and the studio atmosphere, sit in one of the classes. Unless it's a big corporate studio where non members aren't allowed, I understand but they should still allow you to have a general 'feel' of the class. The last thing you want to do is buy a 'yoga package' deal without realizing what you're getting yourself into. Observe the yoga class and see if it's what you really want and be realistic about your goal. i.e during your observation of the class, if your jaw drops and you think the class looks like a boot camp, do rethink on whether 'what yoga means to you.'

2) The poses may look simple in cut outs and magazines, until you're actually doing it. Be sure the teacher's leading and guiding you into your practice. Not all poses suit everybody, our bodies are made differently and a good yoga teacher should be able to accomodate to your needs rather than his or hers.

3) Yoga is about "Mission Possible" not "Mission Impossible". Don't be fooled by anyone telling you,"practice makes perfect" i.e yoga is not about getting your foot tangled behind your head. Yoga is knowing how to listen to what your body needs and how you connect your mind and body to your breaths. It's not about how long you can hold your headstand for the next 1 hour.

It's about you feeling good physically and emotionally after the session.

4) A good yoga teacher is someone you are comfortable with when he/she adjusts your poses. You trust them to take care of you and the other students during the session. Know that no one should push you beyond your limit. "The mind soars sky high in thoughts, but the body stays grounded and knows it's capabilities."

5) A good yoga teacher is someone who's open to ideas and not stagnant in his/her practice. His/her continuance of attending different workshops and courses helps him/her update her knowledge on yoga. This will also help the teacher explain to the student how to get in and out of the pose safely.

6) Most yoga teachers should know your medical background from previous back pains, anaemia, high blood pressure, joint injuries, e.t.c This helps the teacher to inform the student which poses are best suited for them.

7) Does the yoga teacher see and hear you? Does he/she notice any struggles you might be experiencing? A good yoga teacher will have a feel of what her students' energy is like for the day and works accordingly to the experience and mood of the class. Each yoga class should feel personalized and meaningful, even if they are teaching the same sequence or poses, it is how the teacher brings awareness to the poses.

8) Any hands on adjustments should be done with loving kindness in their hands and hearts, without strain and without force.

9) A good yoga teacher walks around to check the students poses.

10) Importantly, you need to ask the teacher what type of yoga does he/she teaches. There are various types of yoga being taught in each studio. Some very physical, some physical but relaxing, some solely on breathwork, e.t.c In Brunei, we are limited to just two types, Hatha and Ashtanga Yoga. Both yoga are based on postures and breathing exercises. If you have any physical limitations, pure restorative yoga is probably better. Do not start a class without knowing the type of yoga the teacher offers.

11) Most of all, enjoy and smile......is all about feeling well and good

See you later crocodiles......