6 qualities of a great yoga teacher

Over the years, I’ve had some good, some not-so-good, and a few truly wonderful yoga teachers. Some of the wonderful ones have challenged me, some have comforted me, and others I’ve travelled across the world to learn from.

All of them have shaped who I am, as a yoga teacher, as a student, and as a human being.

Their approaches and styles may have differed wildly, but by looking a little deeper, I’ve realised that my greatest yoga teachers actually had a whole lot in common.

These are the 6 qualities I believe make a yoga teacher truly great.

1. They take yoga off the mat and apply it to life

The best teachers I’ve had practice what they teach, on and off the mat. It’s so much more than practicing yoga and meditation every day. A great yoga teacher applies their approach to yoga to their life outside the studio walls, which brings honesty and integrity to their classes.

2. The way they share knowledge inspires confidence

Great yoga teachers are knowledgeable and well prepared, encouraging discussion and questions. But they don’t spout information for the sake of it. Instead, they weave their knowledge into training, imbuing their teaching with a sense of flow, clarity and connection.

3. They are lifelong learners

The best yoga teachers understand that they are learning too. They have confidence in things they know, but the humility to say, “I don’t know” when it’s appropriate. They are willing to be humble, and to be the student, class after class.

4. They are passionate and true to themselves

Whether their passion is for yin or Bikram yoga, truly great teachers aren’t interested in trends or what’s popular on Instagram. They teach what they believe in – not what’s hashtag-worthy – and it resonates with their students.

5. They are flexible (but not necessarily bendy)

A great teacher is flexible in a way that benefits their students. They may or may not be able to imitate a pretzel, but they can tune into a class’s ability level and even mood, and modify accordingly – even if it means scrapping a carefully planned class.

6. They honour the student’s experience

At all times, a great yoga teacher is focused on the student (rather than the self). They see what a student needs and they honour this in their teachings. Yoga is about connecting with your whole self. Ultimately, a truly great teacher has the ability to cultivate self-acceptance in their students and guide them on their own journey.

I’ll be putting what I’ve learned from my own great teachers into practice in my upcoming 50-hour Yin yoga teacher training module. This training is ideal for registered yoga teachers or students who want to deepen their understanding of Yin. Click here to learn more.