It's Time to Break Up . . . With Your Yoga Instructor

Whether you're a newbie yogi or have been Down Dogging for a decade, having an exceptional yoga instructor makes all the difference. If they're really good, they'll not only teach you new things, but will also inspire you to want to learn more. Is yours not up to par? Here are five signs the person leading your yoga class might not be right for you.


1. They Don't Challenge You

You love your instructor dearly because they were your very first yoga teacher. They were there when you learned how to balance in Crow, and they taught you how to hold a headstand without falling over. Now when you go to class, you know exactly what to expect, and you're no longer progressing in your practice. If you're not challenged, you're less likely to keep your passion for yoga alive, which means you won't be excited to go to class anymore. It's time to break away from the comforts of a well-known teacher and try someone new.

2. They're Too Touchy-Feely

Obviously inappropriate touching is out of the question, but even if your instructor has the greatest intentions and adjusts you to get deeper in poses, pushing you too hard can put you at risk for injury. Check out someone else's class before a pulled hamstring prevents you from going at all.

3. They Make You Feel Self-Conscious

I'm all for verbal cues, because sometimes they are even more effective than physical adjustments. If an instructor makes a blanket statement to everyone such as "draw your right hip back" or "relax your toes," it's a great way to help students without making them feel like they're making mistakes. But if your instructor calls out your name several times during a class to offer verbal corrections, it can make you feel really self-conscious. If you're constantly thinking your teacher is watching or judging you and worrying about what they're going to say, you'll be too stressed out to really enjoy your practice.

4. They Push Their Beliefs on You

Hardcore yogis often make the practice and its philosophies their life. Most practice daily, meditate, and do pranayama, and many are vegan to avoid causing harm to living beings. If they start preaching about the "right" way to be a good yogi, they can make you feel bad for the choices you make. Without a supportive or comfortable environment, you won't feel confident on your mat. Find an instructor whose views don't clash with yours.

5. You Don't Trust Them

Yoga teachers can't be expected to know everything, but they should have a basic knowledge about safety. If your instructor offers to spot you in handstand and you end up tipping over, or they say something you know doesn't sound right, such as, "Yoga is supposed to hurt sometimes," it's going to be really hard to trust their words and actions in the future.