How to Find a Good Yoga Teacher

Teacher with hands on a student's back in yoga class
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Finding a yoga class is pretty easy these days, at least in most metropolitan areas where you can hardly go a block with bumping into a studio, but how do you find a good teacher? Of course, this quest is complicated by the fact that your idea of what makes a good teacher may differ from the next person's, but there are a few steps you can take to try to narrow the field.

1. Ask for Qualifications

You don't have to go up to your teacher and ask to see her RYT, but do make sure that he or she has at least completed a 200-hr Yoga Alliance Registered teacher training program. The RYT system may not be perfect, but it's the best indication we have of a minimum acceptable amount of training.

Most studios have extensive bios of their teachers available on their websites and may include links to a teacher's own site where they can go into even more detail about their training. If you are taking yoga classes at a gym or YMCA, it is a good idea to ask someone in the office about their yoga teachers' qualifications. This is also a nice way to let your gym know that the training their teachers have matters to you. Look for a teacher who has been at it for years, not weeks.

2. Start at the Very Beginning

If you haven't done much yoga before, set yourself up for a positive experience by taking beginners-level classes whenever possible. Even "all levels" classes are not the best choice right at the start. In an "all-levels" class, the teacher will often get a read on the level of the majority of the students in attendance and cater to them. However you can always let a teacher know at the beginning of an all-levels class that you are new. This can help you feel supported.

3. Ask Your Friends

Just about everyone has that one friend who won't shut up about yoga, right? Now's your chance to make use of that person. I consider myself to be one of those annoying yoga people and I love to play matchmaker between my yoga novice friends and favorite teachers. This is also a good time to make use of those social media connections. Post on Facebook or Twitter and watch people come out of the woodwork to recommend their favorite class to you.

Once people find a yoga teacher they like, they can get downright evangelical about it, so take advantage of their yoga experiences.

4. Shop Around

Ok, so hopefully you've got a few names of teachers or yoga studios that your friends like. Now go out and try them all. The relationship between you and your teacher is very important. You have to trust them but also know that they trust you to make decisions for what works best for your body. You have to like them, embrace their style, enjoy their presence, recognize their humor. These can be tough qualities to find, so don't despair if you don't like the first teacher you try. Keep looking and things will fall into place.

By Ann Pizer, RYT
Ann Pizer is a writer and registered yoga instructor who teaches vinyasa/flow and prenatal yoga classes.