If you’re reading this then it’s very likely that you, like me, are a consumer of Yoga. According to a survey by Yoga Journal and Yoga Alliance the American public consumption of yoga in 2016 is about 37 million Americans spending $16 billion last year alone.

So what criteria is the Yoga Consumer using to:

  1. Keep them coming back to a particular teacher
  2. Prevent them from continuing to return to certain teachers

With all transparency, over the last 20 years I have gotten pickier about how I spend my “yoga dollar.” The thing I look for in a great teacher is their ability to describe the journey – not only for that class and how to get me from point A (start) to point B (savasana) safely but from their experience overall. I benefit from hearing their authentic teaching stories about what they’ve learned as a result of trial and effort, milestone moments, “aha” like epiphanies and disappointments. I look for someone who is really engaged in the joy of the process, (the journey) and not the end goal of a pose (the destination).

What keeps students coming back to the same teacher?

  1. Teachers who are inspiring. Students are usually able to quickly pick up if a teacher is teaching “from the heart” or not. This is a favorite quality in all teachers, not just yoga teachers. Our best and favorite teachers throughout our lives are the ones that are madly in love with what they do. When a teacher is excited about, whatever it is their teaching, it’s contagious and it makes the learning process fun and motivating. Honestly this is the single most important criteria. If a teacher has enthusiasm then usually the rest will follow!
  2. Teachers who teach yoga as more than just aerobic exercise. I love when teachers incorporate something else into the classroom to make it less of just a purely physical experience. Whether that’s yoga or life philosophy, meditation, focus on the breath, or whatever else it is that works with their teaching style. I need something else besides someone who calls out the name of poses and tells me to breathe on occasion.
  3. Teachers who are human. When students walk into a yoga class, they want to be able to be themselves. When a teacher finds a way to express their human-ness to the class, it creates an environment where people feel safe like they have permission to be who they really are.
  4. Teachers who learn with me. Don’t you love it when teachers talk about things they are still learning too? It not only makes them seem a bit more human as mentioned before, but it also demonstrates that teachers and students are all on the “same” journey.
  5. Teachers who keep class fresh. Students will keep returning if teachers teach in a way where something new is taught in every class. Perhaps it’s a piece poetry, yogic philosophy, anatomy, a creative sequence, a new way to get into a pose…something that makes us pay attention and keeps our interest!

What prevents students from continuing to return to certain teachers?

  1. Students are not interested in seeing teachers “show off” in class. We’ve all seen this in classes sometimes where the teacher demonstrates really fancy poses in a way that just leaves most of the students feeling incompetent. Unless the demo is for the students benefit and you can break it down into key learning points why feed their ego?
  2. Teachers who get in what I call “rock star” mode. Sometimes it starts to feel like they’re running a concert rather than just being there and teaching students in a personal way. When “namastardam” has taken over and they are Instagramming photos of us in savasana from full classes (even while class is still in session) then don’t expect us to return.
  3. Your vibe attracts your tribe! Some teachers tend to breed certain environments, and attract certain students. If you don’t vibe well with the students in the classroom, it’s more challenging to enjoy your yoga practice. Mainly this is an issue with regards to competitive environments. A healthy yoga environment is not only non-competitive, it is also non-comparitive. The teacher sets the tone on this one.
  4. Teachers who are distant. We understand that there need to be smart boundaries between teachers and students. However, if we have been practicing with someone consistently for more than a few classes and they haven’t made an effort to try to even learn our name that’s a problem. It’s hard to feel connected without some sense of politeness.

What advice do you have as a student that you could give to Yoga teachers everywhere?

What keeps you coming back or turns you off from returning? We’d love to know!

Love yourself, love your day, love your life!

[Photo by: Jhoc | CC BY]

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