10 October 2013

How to find the right yoga teacher

Even before you can begin to search for the right yoga teacher, it’s important to have a good understanding of what yoga really is and whether it is something that actually appeals to you.


Even before you can begin to search for the right yoga teacher, it’s important to have a good understanding of what yoga really is and whether it is something that actually appeals to you.

If you’ve seen or attended a class at a gym, you’ll have noticed that it’s not a religion or cult although some teachers may occasionally include some chanting to help instil calm and focus in the mind.

You may also have noticed that it can be quite rigorous and tough and not the easy, breezy, stretch and relax class that most guys assume it to be.

There is a lot of information flying around out there but it’s not easy to be clear on just what exactly yoga is. Did you know that it’s estimated to have originated in India between five and eight thousand years ago?

What we understand as being yoga in the West is actually only the preparatory part of the whole practice, and is called Hatha Yoga. This is the physical process of bringing about unity and harmony, strength and flexibility, steadiness and balance within the body and mind through the breath, movement and stillness. Later on this could lead to more meditative practices, should one be so inclined.

In short, Yoga could be said to be the pursuit of a healthy mind in a healthy body, interacting in healthy ways within the world and with others.

Which style of yoga would suit you?

Very few people are aware that yoga has an extremely diverse range of varying styles and practices.  There are presently nine internationally recognized styles and more than three hundred various others.

To keep it simple, I classify two main forms that Yoga takes. These can be described as ‘Active’ and ‘Therapeutic’.

Characteristically, active styles of yoga are more aerobic. Classes are generally set to music and poses are linked to and follow on from one another in orderly sequences. The result is often a good hot sweat and in some studios the room is even heated to enhance the benefits. Less emphasis is placed on the precise execution of poses, but quite a lot is placed on the breath. Examples you might see on a studio timetable are most commonly ‘Ashtanga’, ‘Vinyasa’, ‘Power’, ‘Hot’ and ‘Flow’.

Therapeutic styles are usually much slower but by no means any less challenging. Poses are held for extended periods of time and emphasis is placed on proper alignment, often involving the use of props and aids. The techniques employed are especially beneficial during recovery from injury or illness. Classic examples you’ll encounter are ‘Iyengar’ and ‘Bikram’.

Some styles fall somewhere in between these two and will include some flowing sequences interspersed with long holds and deep stretches, sometimes accompanied by music. You might see ‘Hatha’, ‘Sivananda’ or ‘Kundalini’ on a timetable in this case.

Google is your friend! Definitely look up the different styles you hear about or take the plunge and just try them!

Gyms often don’t differentiate, which is unfortunate. Tell the manager at your health club!

Talk to your friends about yoga

It’s out there! It’s popular! You may feel like a freak for even considering it but you may also be surprised at how many friends know something you didn’t, and have been dying to share.

People are often shy or intimidated by approaching their yoga teacher.  This may either be a sign that you’ve found the wrong one, or something to develop in yourself. 

Your Yoga Teacher should be more than an aerobics instructor. He or she is there to help you move forward and the more you are able to share, the more your teacher will be able to cater to your needs. You need not tell your teacher your life story. Even, “I liked that sequence” or “that pose felt wrong to me”, is somewhere to start.

Approach as many as you can find and when you’ve found someone that you feel better for talking to, that’s the teacher for you!

Visit Sambhoga Yoga for more information.


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