Finding the right yoga mentor can be challenging. Here, yoga teacher mentor Alexandria Crow shares her thoughts on how to tell if you’ve found a good match.
Plus, sign up for The Art of Teaching Yoga at YJ LIVEFlorida (Nov. 11–13) and San Francisco (Jan. 13–15) to work closely with seasoned mentors Crow, Giselle Mari, and Coral Brown. Are you ready to take your teaching skills to the next level?
1. A good mentor isn’t going to tell you what to do.
Sure, you want answers. You want to know what you’re doing wrong, and what—exactly—you need to know to do better. However, Crow says a great mentor is going to give you the information that’ll help you figure out how to make the changes to your teaching that’ll serve you best. “I feel it’s my job to teach you and help you learn to figure out what you think you need to do,” Crow says. “I don’t want to give you formulas to follow to keep going forward. A good mentor will give you the material and help you figure out how to apply it authentically and clearly to your students, who are different than their students.”
2. A good mentor isn’t going to be your new BFF...
If you’re going to really learn from your yoga teacher mentor and fully embrace the help (read: constructive criticism) they’ll be giving you, being close friends could be problematic. “I am here to help you get better at what you do, and I don’t think I can do that as effectively if we’re good friends,” Crow says. “Your friends praise you. Pointing out hard stuff can be tougher to swallow when it comes from a friend. Plus, you may not feel urged to adapt if you have a casual rapport with your mentor.”
3. …but she’ll get to know you well enough to know what works—and what doesn’t—for you.
The beauty of seeking out a yoga teacher mentor is that this person can (and should) get to know you a bit more than perhaps your 200-hour yoga teacher training instructors were able to. That means your mentor will start to learn how you tick—and figure out how you take criticism best, when you might need a little extra nudge, and more. “A good mentor will get to know you well enough to be able to push you while also supporting you,” Crow says.
4. A good mentor has the experience to back up what she’s saying.
“There’s a really big difference between teaching students and teaching teachers,” Crow says. “You really have to know the material and what you’re talking about from a stripped down standpoint if you’re going to be a yoga teacher mentor.”
5. A good mentor won’t try to turn you into her.
Good mentors want you to sound like you when you teach, and teach from a place that feels authentic for you. They don’t want little clones of them. That’s because how you teach is really up to you, Crow says. “I believe a good mentor will focus on theory, which will give you a good, solid base from which you can fly and become your best version of you as a yoga teacher.”
6. A good mentor has her own mentor—or can at least talk about who her teachers were.
The bottom line, Crow says: You can’t be a really great mentor if you haven’t been mentored yourself.
See also Is 200 Hours Enough to Teach Yoga?
7. A good mentor is confident.
If you’re looking to improve your teaching skills, you want to learn from someone who really knows her stuff—and knows that she knows her stuff. “I believe you can come from a lineage you respect but also not be afraid to do things your way—but the only way you can do this well is if you really understand what you’re teaching,” Crow says. “Oftentimes the best mentors are doing things totally differently, but they’re sure of what they know.”
About Our Pro
Southern California’s Alexandria Crow comes from an Ashtanga Yoga background. Today, the YogaWorks teacher offers vinyasa flow classes with methodical and challenging sequences that encourage mindful attention. Besides her work inside the pages of Yoga Journal as a model and writer, she’s appeared in Yoga Journal’s Fitness Challenge and Total Body Yoga DVDs, as well as several ads for HardTail Forever.