5 Hallmarks of An Authentic Yoga Teacher

Charu Agarwal
5 Hallmarks of An Authentic Yoga Teacher

When I first decided to learn yoga, like most people I was pretty lost about how I should go about the most crucial step—finding an authentic yoga teacher. Further down the road, even as I began teaching yoga, I longed to deepen my personal practice with someone more experienced and found myself faced with the same question all over again.

Added to this was the frequent self-doubt, which made me wonder whether I was truly worthy of being a yoga teacher.

Something told me that there were some sure-shot indicators that could reveal whether the person standing in front of me, or the face staring back at me from the mirror was a “true yoga teacher” or not. So I decided to reflect on this matter – and this is what I got...

At the very heart of my insight, lies the belief that a yoga teacher who is authentic will be living yoga every single moment of his or her life as a conscious, joyous choice.

Before you get visions of a super-flexible person perfecting complicated asanas or standing on his or her head most of the day, let me hasten to clarify, this is not what I mean.

Rather, by ‘living yoga,’ I mean that yoga has become inseparable from this individual’s way of life. Be it in their core values, which are guided by the ‘Yamas’ and ‘Niyamas’ of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga, or their lifestyle – every thought, word and action of such people is a reflection of the spirit of yoga!

When this happens, it is truly transformational and there can be no mistaking it! Here are 5 of the essential qualities that are likely to glimmer from such a yoga teacher:

1. Compassion

Warmth, caring, sensitivity, empathy, kindness and an underlying, unconditional acceptance for everyone will exude from a true teacher. Such teachers will be encouraging, gentle and patient, and interactions with them will leave you feeling good and hopeful about yourself.

2. Humility

Being self-aware and constantly striving to move further in their own journey, such teachers will share and teach from a space of complete humility and graciousness and will never shy away from saying they don’t know the answer to a query.

Their teaching will be rooted in the awareness that they are merely a reflection of the inner teacher waiting to be discovered in each of their students - their duty being to forge that connection.

3. Integrity

Honesty, sincerity, fairness and transparency will be markedly evident in their dealings with everyone. Their congruence of thought, word and speech will make you feel safe and you will implicitly trust such teachers.

4. Balance

A sense of calm arising from a disposition that is better balanced and even-tempered than most, will set such a teacher apart. He or she will also have the uncommon ability to be firm and assertive, yet gentle and kind in the right measure.

5. Presence

This one is more subtle, but nonetheless quite tangible. Teachers who live yoga have an undeniable presence—an undefinable, radiating quality that makes you sit up and take notice even though they may be doing nothing particularly remarkable.

Try making eye contact or engaging one-on-one with such a teacher and you are sure to feel this solid, reassuring presence that draws you to him or her.

Such a yoga teacher is bound to inspire others; igniting their spark for becoming the best version of themselves. And isn’t that the authentic purpose of teaching yoga?