How To Get The Most Out of Your Yoga Teacher

We've all been there right? Listening to someone else blather on about this amazing time they went to this amazing restaurant/beach/city/shop/country [delete as appropriate] and a series of amazing things (free food/magical sunsets/half price sale/VIP experience/flying unicorns - still delete as appropriate) happened.

While when you went it was all rain, stale bread, queues, screaming toddlers, and pickpockets?!

Yep. We've all been there.

And it happens with yoga classes too. The story of the amazing teacher, with the transformative cue, and the perfect assist. 

How does everyone else find these teacher except you?!

I will write a post soon about some of my favourite teachers, but hopefully its much more useful to think about how you get the most out of your current yoga teacher. The one that you see already, who's class is easy for you to get to, and who probably doesn't have a million Instagram followers. 

These are my top tips...

1. Introduce yourself

Knowing someone's name is the start of most good relationships. Likewise in a yoga class. Your teacher is just as human as you are and its much easier for them to build a connection with you if they know who you are. And don't be afraid to remind them of it the next few times...

2. Tell the teacher what you are working on

Yoga teachers have many talents, but mind-reading is unlikely to be one of them. If there is a pose, or a muscle group, or tricky part of the practice you are working on or struggling with, tell them. Preferably at the start of class so they have a chance to come and assist you, or call out some bespoke cues (see where the knowing your name part can come in handy), or even throw a few extra poses into the sequence just for you. 

3. Ask questions

Sometimes going to a yoga class feels like doing a dance where you don't know the steps. Everyone else knows where to put their mats, and what to do at different times, but no one has ever told you. So if the only person that has ever spoken in your class is the teacher, it can feel really daunting to speak up. But it's OK to ask a question. Where you put a hand or foot, whether your glutes should be engaged, whether you should inhale or exhale with that movement. Chances are if you want to know, someone else does to. So be brave; ask.

4. Be consistent

Keep going back. Just as you are getting to know your body and mind and what they are capable of on your mat, as is your teacher. Give them a chance to learn your habits and quirks, think about what it is that can help you most, and then work with you to try it. It's a process on both sides, and one that benefits immeasurably from time and repeated opportunities to experiment. 

5. Give constructive feedback

Most teachers will go months without getting any kind of meaningful feedback from their students, so I can guarantee your teacher will love you if you give them thoughtful feedback. Be it after class, that the music worked really well with the sequence, or that you missed an opportunity to work on an inversion in the class, or that you loved the theme. Or in class when they are assisting you - tell them whether that they are doing is working for you. More or less pressure? That you don't know what they mean when they say externally rotate a thigh? Feedback is always a good thing.

Let me know in the comments if you have anything to add I've missed!

When getting started with yoga finding the right teacher can make a big difference, but even once you do make sure you are getting the most out of them.
Sarah - 27th September 2017

Have just been reading your wonderful blog and you have inspired me to find a class near me! Do you have any recommendations for yoga studios or specific teachers in south London?

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