Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
I’ve always said that finding a great yoga teacher is like courting a love interest. There are so many variables that can make it work or not work that it can be pretty hard to put your finger on what qualities you’re looking for. A teacher might totally
fit the bill as far as style and class content goes, but for some
reason it just may not feel right. Struggling to find a great teacher
after a move a year ago, I wrote a classified
ad for my dream yoga teacher. Since then, I’ve moved again and still
haven’t exactly fallen head-over-heels for any one teacher. However, I’ve also
realized that the experience of searching for my match has helped me to learn
more about my practice and myself.
Here are a few things I’ve learned.
1. Be a player. I’m the yoga student equivalent of a ladies’ man.
I like playing the field. It’s not that I can’t make a commitment; it’s just
that I’m not quite ready to settle down, if you know what I mean. I realize
there are great teachers in every studio and every style–and I’m not willing to
miss out on any of them until I’ve tried them all.
2. Sometimes long-distance relationships DO work. I have met a
TON of great yoga teachers where I live now, but I’m still crushing on some of
the teachers I practiced with when I lived in California. But just because I
moved across the country doesn’t mean I can’t still learn from them. I get
their email newsletters. I read their yogic wisdom in the form of status
updates on Facebook. I even take classes with them remotely through online yoga
class subscription services like YogaGlo and YogaVibes. (And, yes, when they
come into town, I secure my spot in the front row so I can bat my eyelashes and yoga flirt with them.)
3. Look right under your nose. If you read this blog, you know
that I’ve learned a lot about yoga when I was nowhere near a yoga studio. My
dog and my cat, for example, are the most amazing yoga teachers–and they give
great adjustments, too. There are teachers everywhere –your best friend, your
mom, your co-worker, your pets–don’t miss out on because you’re limiting your
search to people who have completed a yoga teacher training.
4. Enjoy the single life. I’ve learned so much about myself and
my practice lately by unrolling my mat, listening to my intuition, and just
practicing whatever poses come to mind. I throw my yoga teacher training
sequencing principles out the window and just practice being in the
moment–because that’s what yoga is all about anyway. A great yoga teacher will
encourage you to follow your intuition anyway–sometimes, it’s nice to cut out
5. Stop searching. It’s funny how romantic relationships
sometimes spring up when you’re not looking. I have the same theory about yoga
teachers. Besides, if you subscribe to the idea that the universe provides us
with what we need in the moment, you might see that whatever class you end up
in is the one that will teach you the lesson you need to learn.