Finding a Hatha Yoga Teacher

Look in any fitness magazine or gym around the country – yoga has become the hot, new exercise craze. But if you’ve ever seen some of the yoga postures, you know this exercise brings with it a serious potential for injury. One way to decrease your chances of becoming injured is to find a good teacher. In this article, we’ll give you some information on finding a good hatha yoga teacher. But first, a word about words. “Hatha” yoga simply refers to any of the physical forms of yoga. Ashtanga yoga is Hatha yoga and so is Bikram yoga – all physical yoga is Hatha yoga.

In the United States, the Yoga Alliance is an organization that registers individual yoga teachers, as well as yoga teacher training programs. You can find information about registered teachers and schools in your area on their website, as well as general information about yoga. In some listings, you may see the letters RYT following a teacher’s name – this stands for Registered Yoga Teacher. Experienced teachers who have significant teaching experience as well as training may be listed as E-RYTs, or Experienced Registered Yoga Teachers. A school that has the initials RYS after its name is a Registered Yoga School; this means that they have a yoga teacher training program that requires at least 200 or 500 hours of instruction and practice.

In the RYT program, teachers are required to know all yoga techniques, including asanas, kriyas and meditations. They must know how to teach and practice all of the various techniques and must demonstrate that they can perform them as well. In addition, they receive instruction in demonstrating techniques, observing and assisting students, and information on how to instruct others. They also learn about human anatomy and physiology, including body systems, organs and the anatomy of energy – known as chakras. They learn when certain movements are contraindicated and are instructed in yoga philosophy, the business aspects of teaching yoga and ethics. Additionally, they must spend a significant amount of time practicing yoga, both as an instructor and as a student.

To find a yoga teacher, first determine the type of yoga you think is best for you. Are you looking for a very physically demanding yoga or something that’s more gentle and relaxing? Do you have health or medical conditions that may impact your ability to participate in a class? If so, a gentler yoga might be for you. If you can, observe several classes to see which types suit you best before you commit to a series of classes.

The following are some questions you should ask any potential yoga teacher:

How long have you been practicing yoga? You want someone who has been practicing yoga for a minimum of three years.
How often do you practice yoga? A committed teacher practices at least four times a week.
Can you tell me about your training? You want an instructor who underwent a minimum of 200 hours of training, preferably with a registered school. You’ll also want to know how long ago their training was completed and what they’re doing to stay current.
Are you a registered yoga teacher?
Do you have any special skills or areas of interest? Some teachers are skilled in teaching seniors, for example, or offering prenatal yoga classes. In addition, the International Association of Yoga Therapists is an organization for teachers who offer therapeutic yoga.

Finally, trust your instincts when it comes to how you feel about the teacher. You’ll be spending time regularly with this person – he or she should be someone you should trust and feel comfortable with.