Get full access to Outside Learn, our online education hub featuring in-depth yoga, fitness, & nutrition courses, when you sign up for Outside+.
Eddie Modestini, a longtime student of K. Pattabhi Jois and B.K.S. Iyengar who leads YJ’s online course, Vinyasa 101: The Fundamentals of Flow, breaks down the 3 traits to look for in a vinyasa yoga teacher. (Sign up for this essential guide to vinyasa yoga HERE.)
1. Someone with the proper training.
The single most important qualification to look for in a vinyasa yoga teacher is that they have the proper training — ideally over 10,000 hours of exposure to yoga, including theory and practice. You also want to make sure your yoga teacher has a really good yoga teacher of their own as well as a consistent personal practice.
2. Someone who cares about their students.
Once you make sure they have the credentials, look for a teacher who cares about his or her students. A lot of teachers these days prepare for their class by figuring out the music they are going to use and then the postures that will work well with either the music or a theme. I would suggest that teachers prepare by trying to consider the people attending and the experience level of the class, as well as the theme and how you want your students to feel as they walk out of the class.
3. Someone who is willing and able to consider the group and make adjustments.
A good teacher should be experienced enough to assess the group that is in front of them and have the skill to make the necessary adjustments to give everyone a fun, challenging, safe, and enlightening experience. One way to do this is to utilize what I call an “assessment pose” to see how the students do with it. This can be anything from Downward-Facing Dog for beginners to Handstand for a more advanced group. A good teacher also considers the individuals in the room — beginners, those who are pregnant, those who have injuries — and chooses something that everybody can gain insight from. I don’t like the idea of up-leveling — there is so much to learn from the simple poses.
Eddie Modestini is the co-director and co-owner of Maya Yoga Studio in Maui. Sign up here for Modestini’s Vinyasa 101 course, which covers the anatomy of the spine, how to adapt asana for various body types, and much more.