There are many important skills, duties and responsibilities involved in the role of a yoga teacher. The following section is an outline of the considerations to study when choosing a good yoga teacher:
A good yoga teacher dedicates ones life to yoga – by study, practice and teaching.
A good yoga teacher guides the student without too many cues and adjustments. The main focus of yoga practice is uniting the mind, spirit and body through the breath or prana. The teacher commands the room like a conductor conducting an orchestra, with a confident voice that inspires students to work for the 60-90 minutes of the class with passion, clarity, integrity, ease, grace, authenticity, compassion, equanimity and love.
Service to others
Being a good teacher is very different from being a good practitioner. A good yoga teacher is one who wants to be of service to others, often dedicating ones life to the propagation of a correct yoga practice.
Strong personal practice
A good yoga teacher has a strong personal practice. Teachers should have a solid relationship with their own practice, so that they understand why they are teaching yoga and what they have to offer. Having a strong personal practice also allows the teacher to relate first handedly to the students experience for example when practicing asana the teacher will know how to adjust a student, or give the right cues to allow the student to achieve the right alignment.
Sri Pattabhi Jois writes “Yoga is 99 % practice and 1% theory”
Always a student
A good yoga teacher must always have a teacher. The reason for this is that the student always remains humble. There is so much to learn in life, it would be very arrogant to say one has reached a ‘know it all’ stage. There is always more to learn, so one should be humble in one's knowledge, and always keep learning, studying with other teachers.
Buddhist Philosopher Daisaku Ikeda writes “Without a mentor [teacher] in life, one can easily succumb to folly. Without a mentor [teacher] in life, one can easily become self-centered, capricious and arrogant.”
To teach something, study is essential. A good yoga teacher spends a large part of their life studying in order to propagate the right teaching of yoga.
Kundalini Yogi Bhajan says "If you want to learn something, read about it. If you want to understand something, write about it. If you want to master something, teach it."
Personal integrity (Authenticity)
A teacher must walk the talk, and be authentic in all aspects of life to be the example for the student. In other words, a teacher should not only be a teacher inside the class room, the teacher must be a teacher outside the classroom as well. There is no denial that the teacher is human and not some supernatural being, so their life does represent that of the human experience. However, the teacher must take responsibility for their actions (specially of what is taught!) to be the example to the student and those in the direct environment of the teacher.
On a personal note I feel great appreciation to my teachers who not only guide me in my practice, but also provide great inspiration in the way they carry their life. Each day I determine to be the best possible teacher I can be, guiding my students with the utmost respect and care they deserve.
Kundalini Research Institute
Yogi Times, What I look for in a yoga teacher by Isa Israel