Aadil Palkhivala has been teaching yoga for over 35 years and he has been recognized as the yoga teacher of the year during the 2016 edition of the Seattle Yoga Awards hosted by Seattle Yoga News. We decided to ask him a few questions about teaching yoga and what makes a great yoga teacher. Here is what he had to say:
Seattle Yoga News: What is it about becoming a yoga teacher that has made it such a popular thing to do these days?
Aadil Palkhivala: I would like to believe that the real reason for the popularity of becoming a yoga teacher is each human being’s inner need to serve others and be of value in the world. It is being part of a movement of growth and self – knowledge and evolution. True yoga also helps us connect with our Spirit and, as we help others connect with their Spirit a deep satisfaction and happiness fills us. This creates a feeling of fulfillment as we teach real yoga. Therefore, a true yoga teacher who understands the deeper yoga feels valuable and of service to humanity.
Seattle Yoga News: What do you think are the key characteristics of great yoga teachers?
Aadil Palkhivala: Great yoga teachers know their subject inside out and have lived their yoga rather than merely practice asana. Great yoga teachers are connected with the Spirit within them and use their decades of experience as a backdrop for the Spirit’s call of the moment. This means that every class is different, unique. Every class is tailored to the students in front of the teacher. When a student takes a class with a great yoga teacher, the student feels that the class was customized just for him or her!
Also, great yoga teachers have Clarity, Confidence and Compassion. Above all, great yoga teachers are always studying with other great yoga teachers. A great yoga teacher is humble and never stops learning. A great yoga teacher is first and foremost a great yoga student.
Seattle Yoga News: What are some practical tips new yoga teachers can follow to improve their teaching of yoga over time?
Aadil Palkhivala: Study, study, study. Never stop learning. Practice asana every day. Practice Heartfull™ Meditation every day. Watch your choices. Do you speak kind words? Do you listen to uplifting music? Do you only see movies without foul language or violence? By uplifting your energy you uplift your teaching. Eat only organic food. Wear happy colors. Make your lifestyle that of a true yogi. Live the yama and niyama all the time. It is only when you are living yoga that you can improve your teaching. A real yoga teacher is less interested in the shape of his or her body and more interested in the quality of his or her life.
Seattle Yoga News: What is your approach to teaching yoga when leading a new group of students through a class or a workshop?
Aadil Palkhivala: My signature approach is helping new students realize that yoga is far, far, far more than physical postures. I teach new students that even though physical asana is necessary, it is not important. I tell them that asana is like brushing your teeth. You must do it every day but you don’t live for teeth brushing! New students are taught by me to make their life worthwhile and uplifting. How to open their hearts and bring love into their life. How to appreciate their physical body. How to live at the highest level of their current awareness.
That being said, the practice of asana has to be done with great care and precision to avoid injuries. Beginners must be taught the fundamental principles of alignment and action. Basics must be repeated and clarified. The teacher must have the eyes of a hawk to scan the room for mistakes that could lead to injuries.
Seattle Yoga News: Who are some of the key people who have influenced you to become the teacher you are today?
Aadil Palkhivala: Savitri, creator of Heartfull ™ Meditation, The Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Sri Aurobindo, my close personal family, my great asana teacher B.K.S. Iyengar, the Indian singer – saint Dilip Kumar Roy and his disciple Indira Devi and the countless interactions with students in the past 51 years of yoga practice. Also, watching “popular” teachers teach at large conferences and reading Manuals of other Teacher Training programs continuously remind me how important quality in teaching is, and hence we are constantly improving our program in teaching Purna Yoga™.
Seattle Yoga News: Anything else you’d like to add?
Aadil Palkhivala: The popularity of yoga has led to its dilution and distortion and, unless its essence is brought back, may lead to its demise. It is sad that people associate yoga not with truth and light and purity but with hot rooms and contortionism. My purpose continues to be to bring the essence of yoga from the past and merge it with the work of Sri Aurobindo, The Mother and Savitri to move yoga into a more luminous future.
Aadil Palkhivala’s Bio:
With degrees in law, physics and mathematics, Aadil is one of the world’s top yoga teachers and, for over 35 years, has had the reputation as the “teacher of teachers,” since the world’s finest teachers study with him. His passion is to create health, wealth and happiness in the lives of his students who truly embrace Purna Yoga’s teachings and lifestyle.
He began his studies with B.K.S. Iyengar at the age of 7, and was the youngest person to be awarded the Advanced Yoga Teacher’s Certificate from Iyengar at the age of 22. He has been training yoga teachers in India, Asia, Europe and the United States since 1976. Aadil writes for Yoga Journal Magazine and been an “Asana Expert” for both the magazine and website. He is frequently a keynote speaker internationally. Aadil is the author of three Teacher Training manuals and Fire of Love , the book that seeks to restore the essence of yoga. Aadil is a Certified Shiatsu and Swedish Bodyworker and a Clinical Hypnotherapist and has extensively studied alternative health and Ayurveda. Aadil is the co-founder and co-director of internationally – renowned Alive and Shine Center in Bellevue, Washington and Purna Yoga College, a 200-hour, 500-hour, 2,000-hour, and 5,000+ hour Teacher Training program. For more information go to www.aadil.com
Interested in more content like this? Get social with us:
Join your Tribe by Subscribing to the Seattle Yoga Community Weekly Update.