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What Makes A Good Yoga Teacher? Ultimate Guide (2020)

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Wondering what makes a good yoga teacher and how you can become one? You’ve come to the right place!

The very fact that you’re searching for the skills and characteristics that make up a good yoga teacher shows that you’re well on your way to having a successful career in this industry.

Below, you’ll find a full rundown of the top traits that will help you to succeed in this role.

If you’re already qualified and you want to know how to be a better yoga teacher, then we’ve also shared some advice on how to really stand out in this profession. 

But first, why not expand your knowledge of health and fitness by completing a Level 4 advanced nutrition course with us here at OriGym. 

Want to learn more about the range of courses we offer at OriGym? Download our free course prospectus here.

What Makes A Good Yoga Instructor? 13 Important Skills

If you’ve already done your research on how to become a yoga instructor, you’ll know that this job is much more than standing in a studio and reeling off a list of different yoga poses.

There are tons of different roles and responsibilities of a yoga teacher, from the duties you’d expect to do like demonstrating poses and preparing for classes, to the less glamorous jobs like cleaning the studio.

If you want to know how to be a good yoga teacher, the first thing you’ll need to do is accept all of the roles and responsibilities that come with the job. 

They’re not all fun, but if you’re really passionate about this career choice, we can guarantee that all of the hard work will be worth it.

Seeing as you’re searching for advice on what makes a good yoga teacher, it’s clear that you go beyond the basic day to day tasks of the job.

So, here’s how! 

Below you’ll find all of the traits, skills, and characteristics that make up a good yoga teacher.

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#1 Good Communication Skills

There are a number of reasons why good communication skills are essential if you want to succeed in your role as a yoga teacher.

Firstly, you’ll need to be able to clearly communicate with your students during your classes so that they can understand your instructions and take part in the class safely. 

If your students don’t quite grasp what you’re trying to tell them, they’ll get frustrated and the chances of them coming back to your studio will be pretty slim.

But it’s not just about being able to instruct your clients during a class, your communication skills should extend beyond your teaching. 

Being able to communicate well is the perfect complement to a good yoga marketing strategy. 

You’ll need to have the ability to reach out to new people, network with other professionals, and deal with any enquiries in a professional manner.

Good communication skills will really help you to sell your services to new students, and keep those students practicing with you.

Don’t forget that communication isn't just about the way that you speak to people - listening to your students is just as important!

Listening to your students really helps you to get to know them, the style of teaching they like, and their goals. This will help you to be the best possible yoga teacher to that student, allowing them to enjoy your classes and retaining their custom!

#2 Be Patient

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Patience is a quality that any good teacher should possess. Fortunately, as a yoga teacher, patience is something that comes quite naturally to you.

Slowing down and achieving patience is one of the most rewarding things about practising yoga. 

As a yogi yourself, you should be very much familiar with how to practice patience and the benefits of doing so.

But we’re not here to talk about the practice of yoga itself, we’re here to explain what makes a good yoga teacher, and why the ability to exercise patience is so important.

Within every class you teach, you’ll find students of all different levels. Even in your advanced classes, you’ll have students who struggle to keep up.

As with a lot of things in life, there is no one size fits all solution to teaching and practicing yoga, and you can’t expect everybody to pick things up first time.

Be prepared to be faced with the same problems over and over again, make a lot of the same corrections, and answer a lot of the same questions from time to time.

This is just part and parcel of the role of a yoga instructor. If you want to be successful in this role, you’ll need to learn to be patient with your students, continuing to persevere even if you get tempted to give up! 

#3 What makes a good yoga instructor? You’ve got to be approachable! 

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If you want to be successful both in the studio and in a business sense, being approachable is really important.

Students, potential students, and other yoga professionals all need to feel comfortable approaching you, talking to you, and generally engaging with you.

The number one barrier that gets in the way of people taking up a new hobby, especially an exercise-based one, is that they feel intimidated by the thought of taking that first step into the studio, gym, health club - you get the idea!

By presenting yourself as somebody who is friendly and easy to talk to, you’ll make new clients feel much more at ease when first coming to your class. 

And once they’re your students, being approachable will allow you to create the kind of relationships with your students that will keep them coming back to your classes. 

The more your students feel like they can come to you, speak honestly, and ask questions, the greater value they will place on you as a teacher, creating loyalty and high levels of retention.

#4 Be Flexible

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As a yoga teacher, you’re definitely familiar with the word flexibility, but in this instance, we aren’t talking about how well you can hold one of our favourite yoga poses for two.

We’re talking about your ability to be flexible as a professional, your ability to think on your feet and solve any problems that might come your way.

This kind of flexibility is essential for a successful career in the health and fitness industry in general, but especially for yoga professionals.

Things can change pretty quickly, you could show up to a 1-1 class and find your client has injured themself in some kind of way - throwing your entire plan out of the window. Or, the student could cancel, leaving you with an hour of wasted time that should be spent working.

If you don’t have the ability to think up a new class to teach that student, or quickly find a productive way to fill that time, you’ll struggle to be successful in this job.

In an ideal world, 1-1 students would never cancel and every class you teach would be full consistently. But as you probably already know, things don’t always work out this way!

The ability to chop and change your schedule so that you don’t miss out moneywise will allow you to keep earning and even grow your business. 

Being flexible in the sense that you’re able to adapt classes and swap out poses that don’t work for particular students is also an essential skill of any good yoga instructor, which is why this next point is really important.

#5 They’re Passionate 

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Making a career out of something that you’re passionate about is a brilliant move as it allows you to do what you love every day.

Passion is the number one factor that will give you the drive to make your business a success, it’s what gets you through those days where you feel completely overwhelmed.

A career as a yoga teacher can be really rewarding, but if you don’t have a passion for the practice, you’ll soon get tired of teaching back-to-back classes and spending hours working behind the scenes to keep your business running.

Being passionate doesn’t just help you to keep your business running and enjoy your job, it has benefits for your students, too.

It makes sense really, - if you want your students to find their love for yoga, then it really helps that you, as their teacher, lead by example.

Your passion and ability to convey your love and respect for the practice of yoga across to your students will inspire your students to really enjoy the practice for themselves, adding to their overall experience.

And don't forget, the better their experience, the more they will view you as a good yoga teacher! This keeps them coming back to your business, so it comes full circle.

#6 A Good Yoga Teacher Should Be Engaging

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This one kind of goes hand in hand with those communication skills that we talked about earlier. But this point is pretty important, so we thought it deserved its own space on our list.

Being engaging means that you’re able to communicate in a way that grabs the interest and attention of others. 

The more engaging you are, the more people will want to hear about what you have to say.

The ability to captivate attention and effectively engage students with your class is essential to making sure that everybody is enjoying your class and benefiting from your teaching - both of which are essential if you want your yoga business to be a success.

In order to be engaging, you’ll need to know what you’re talking about - which is exactly where knowledge comes into what makes a good yoga instructor. 

#7 You Need To Be Knowledgeable 

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It goes without saying that if you want to be a good yoga teacher, you’ll need to have some kind of knowledge on the subject.

If you’re here because you’re interested in becoming a yoga teacher, it’s safe to assume that you’re a yoga lover yourself.

Having a passion for yoga and enjoying the practice will help to make your business a success, but when it comes to how to be a good yoga teacher, in terms of holding classes and running a yoga business, knowledge is just as important.

As confident as you might be in your self-taught knowledge of the history of pilates or yoga, you’ll need at least a Level 3 qualification if you want to make the cut as a yoga teacher.

Knowing what kind of class and breathing techniques you enjoy is great, but every student has different preferences and requirements. 

For that reason, yoga teachers need to understand the basics of anatomy and physiology, the fundamentals of yoga, and how to teach a class - all of which are taught on a Level 3 yoga instructor course.

 

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A Level 3 yoga qualification will provide you with all of the knowledge about planning to teach yoga classes for a range of students of varying ages, abilities, and levels of fitness.

Holding this level of qualification will allow you to run a reputable business and provide the best possible service to your students.

Side note: there’s a reason that we’ve mentioned ‘Level 3 courses’ specifically here. 

That’s because any old yoga course that you can find on the likes of gumtree? won’t give you the right knowledge to trade as a yoga instructor. 

In order to get the level of knowledge required to be a good yoga instructor, the qualification that you complete will need to be one that is regulated by an awarding body, such as Ofqual, and accredited by an awarding body like REPS or CIMSPA.

Plus, holding a regulated qualification is an essential requirement of yoga insurance providers - something that you should definitely look into!

Confused about what kind of qualification you need? Here’s why free yoga courses don’t make the cut.

# 8 They’re Professional 

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What makes a good yoga teacher? They’re professional!

If you want to be a respected yoga instructor, then you’ll need to look and act in a professional manner. 

No, we aren’t suggesting you wear a pantsuit in the studio, but just because your yoga class isn’t the typical professional environment, doesn’t mean you can’t make the effort to ensure that you’re well-presented and professional.

If you’re working at a studio, you might have a uniform. But if you’re a freelancer, you’ll have the freedom to wear whatever you like - to an extent!

Obviously, you’ll have a much more relaxed dress code given that you have an active job, but you still need to have high hygiene standards and keep your appearance smart and tidy.

This applies to the way that you act and the way that you carry yourself, too. Again, when you first started to write your own yoga business plan, you were probably pretty excited about the idea of being your own boss.

But at some point, you need to recognise that when your old boss was constantly bugging you to get off your phone or to stop chatting with your colleagues, they were doing so for good reason.

Any good yoga teacher should carry themselves in a professional manner, regardless of whether they’re the owner of their studio or working for somebody else.

That means, putting your phone down and being present with your students.

Whether that’s during your class, or even during a general chit chat at the reception desk. Having your phone out in front of customers is a big no-no.

There’s nothing more annoying than trying to talk to somebody whilst they’re also scrolling through their Facebook feed. This is completely unprofessional, and honestly, it’s just bad manners in general.

We know what you’re thinking - you use your phone for work, right? Whilst that’s true, anybody who wants to be a good yoga teacher should get out of the habit of using this excuse.

If what you’re doing on your phone is genuinely important, politely explain to the student that you’re busy instead of coming across as unprofessional.

#9 Be Punctual

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This one is true of any job, but it’s especially important as a yoga teacher.

As the person holding a class or organising a yoga retreat, you need to be the first person there and the last to leave. 

Being punctual will allow you to stick to your schedule for the whole day. What might only be 5 minutes in the morning can have a knock-on for every other class for the rest of the day, and it can cause a huge inconvenience to your students - which is the last thing you want to do!

Any good yoga teacher should always be ready at least 5 minutes before the class is expected to start.

You want your students to be confident that you’re reliable, so being punctual is absolutely essential.

Some of the best yoga studios take this time to set up yoga blocks, mats, and any other yoga kit or equiptment that might be needed during the class which really helps with student satisfaction.

#10 Have Professional Relationships With Students 

Being approachable and engaging are both brilliant traits to have as a yoga teacher. These traits allow you to create good relationships with your clients which can help with customer satisfaction and client retention.

But, you still need to keep things professional.

At the end of the day, being a yoga teacher is your job. Whether you’re a freelancer or you run your own studio, this is your business! So as great as it is that you can be friendly with your students, any good yoga teacher needs to know how to keep that relationship professional.

So how can you be friendly, but not too friendly? It’s all about balance! It’s fine to chat with your students before and after classes, but the last thing you want is for your class to end up being more a catch-up. 

A good yoga teacher should recognise that the purpose of having good relationships with students is to keep them happy, not to find yourself some new friends, or even a partner.

Any relationship that you do have with students should be completely professional and always with the purpose of running your business in the best way possible.

The moment that relationship gets in the way of you teaching yoga, you need to take a step back and figure out how to out business back at the top of your list of priorities. 

#11 They’re Authentic

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If you want to be a good yoga teacher, you’ll need to be authentic!

Staying true to the kind of person you are and the kind of yoga teacher you are will allow you to succeed within this role.

Everybody has their own unique approach to teaching, and different kinds of students will like or dislike that style. Whether you’re a really outgoing person or you choose to be more nurturing and gentle in your teaching style, the most important thing is to be authentic.

The worst thing to do is to try to tone down your personality in an attempt to please everybody.

If you try to be something you’re not, your students will see right through the act! So stay true to yourself - that’s what your students like about you.

By embracing who you are, you are showing positivity and self-confidence, both of which are brilliant qualities for a yoga instructor to possess. 

Yes, your clever use of OriGym's top yoga hashtags and a good social media marketing strategy might be the reason that your students are in your class in the first place, but they’ll only keep coming back if they like you and the way that you teach.

#12 How To Be A Better Yoga Teacher? Get Organised

Again, this one doesn’t only apply to what makes a good yoga instructor, but it’s important so we couldn’t leave it out!

If you want to know how to be a better yoga teacher, one word of advice is to always plan your classes in advance!

Taking the time to get prepared for your classes, creating a plan, and really thinking about what you want yourself and your students to achieve will make your class run a lot more smoothly and allow you to provide better service overall.

The need to be organised is especially important for a yoga teacher as a lot of people in this industry are working as freelancers or even running their own business.

Once you become a yoga teacher, you’ll be responsible for organising your own working schedule, scheduling classes, and managing your enquiries. 

There’s also a lot of work that goes into running your own business, from registering your business, to filing your tax return, paying bills - unfortunately, the list goes on. 

No matter how much you love working as a yoga professional, we all only have 24 hours in a day, and we all need to take a break every now and then!

Getting organised not only makes sure you get stuff done, but it also stops you from getting overwhelmed once work has piled up.

Unsure on where to start when it comes to registering your business? Check out our full sole trader vs limited company comparison here.

#13 Attention To Detail

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One final trait that we couldn’t miss from this list, is that if you want to be a good yoga teacher, you’ll need to make the effort to pay attention to all of the little details.

Finding the right ambience for the studio by paying attention to the details like your playlist, the temperature, and lighting, can all show your students that you’re making the effort to go above and beyond.

It’s perfectly fine if not everything about your class is perfect to start off with, as long as you continue to look for ways that you could provide a better service.

It really helps to listen to any feedback from your students, and take that on board, making any small tweaks and changes.

The little things can often make the biggest difference, so paying attention to the details can really pay off.

Small things like setting up the yoga mats and getting everybody's equipment ready before the class begins, rather than having your students sort that themselves, can really improve the quality of service that you’re offering.

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What Makes A Great Yoga Teacher? 

By now you should have a pretty good idea of what makes a good yoga teacher. Hopefully, the list above has given you an idea of the kind of skills to work in order to know how to become an even better yoga teacher. 

If you’re still with us, we assume it’s because you want to know what makes a great yoga teacher.

So here it is, check out our advice on how to be a stand yoga teacher.

How To Be A Better Yoga Teacher: Professional Development!

When we answered ‘what makes a good yoga teacher?’, we explained that having a good knowledge and understanding of Yoga is essential.

#1 Qualifications & CPDs

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One thing to know is that no matter how many classes you’ve attended yourself, you need to hold a level 3 qualification as a bare minimum.

A level 3 course will provide you with all of the necessary knowledge and understanding in order to teach yoga classes for yourself.

But seeing as you want to know what makes a great yoga teacher, do you think that bare minimum is really enough?

The best way to market yourself as the best yoga business among your competitors is to have the qualifications to back up your claims!

That means, completing CPD (continuing professional development) courses, getting a Level 4 yoga qualification, or even branching out into a different specialisation.

This could be something small like studying a fitness business CPD to learn the best way to run your business, including key skills like sales, marketing, and the best way to build a good rapport with clients.

If you really want to commit to being a great yoga teacher, you could even branch out into a similar profession in the health and fitness industry.

You could study a Level 4 advanced nutrition course and learn about meal planning, and get the necessary qualifications to give your students nutritional support too.

Becoming a nutrition coach alongside a yoga teacher can add to the value that you offer your students and make your business unique. 

By understanding how exercise and nutrition can go hand in hand, you can improve the quality of your service and the benefits to your students, which makes you a great yoga teacher!

#2 Attend Seminars

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Outside of qualifications, you can demonstrate your commitment to your career and add to your professional development by attending seminars.

Seminars (and workshops) are hosted by specialised professionals who give talks about the profession, and share their advice on how to improve your skills as a yoga instructor.

They’re typically very affordable, and the benefits of attending are definitely worth the price you pay.

These kinds of events are a great way to expand your knowledge, keep upto date with the latest trends, and network with other yoga teachers - all of which will benefit your career!

You can chat with other yoga professionals, ask the experts questions, and get the word out there about your own business.

Check out our top-rated fitness trade shows, conferenceres, and seminars on our blog.

#3 Webinars

If you want to know how to become a better yoga teacher, we’d definitely suggest researching what relevant online webinars are coming up.

Whether you live a little out of the way and you don’t have the time to travel to physically attend a seminar, or you don’t have the spare cash to spend on travelling to and from seminars, webinars are a brilliant alternative.

Webinars remove all the barriers associated with location, meaning you can get to hear from your favourite yoga professional even if they’re based on the other side of the world.

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You won’t have the same benefits that come with chatting to the host face to face or networking with the other attendees, but you’ll still learn a lot about the profession.

There will still be some opportunity to ask the host questions and some platforms do have a live chat feature, which is the next best thing to networking face to face.

One of our favourite things about webinars is that live talks on platforms like Facebook or Instagram live are usually posted so that you can refer back to them, or catch up later on.

Another bonus is that webinars are often available completely free of charge, so you really don’t have anything to lose!

In our opinion, getting involved with webinars and then attending the odd seminar when you can is a brilliant compromise that will really help with your professional development.

#4 Attend Other Yoga Classes

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There’s no better way to learn about the latest yoga trends and different kinds of classes than to experience one for yourself!

Attending classes at other studios with different yoga instructors is a brilliant way to learn more about your competition and really see how they run their classes. 

Not only does this allow you to stay up to date with new trends and fads, having that first hand experience at a competing business can help you to identify anything that they are doing that you think you should be doing.

Or, you could notice something they aren’t doing, which would open up an opportunity for you to use that gap in the market to build your own business.

Attending other yoga classes is a key step in the research that you should carry out when you’re first marketing a yoga business, but it shouldn’t stop once that marketing plan is in place.

Continuing to do this kind of research will allow your business to stay ahead of the competition and keep your students interested!

#5 Start An Online Yoga Teaching Business 

Finally, a brilliant way to become a great yoga teacher and earn a generous yoga teacher salary is to take your business online!

Teaching yoga online means that location is no longer a barrier between your business and potential customers, which massively increases the number of students available to you.

And because online yoga classes aren’t restricted by the size of a studio, and 1-1 sessions are typically a lot less time consuming if you pre record your content, you can take on tons more students.

Before You Go!

Now that you know what makes a good yoga teacher, what are you waiting for?

Enquire about our Level 4 sports nutrition course here and build your knowledge of health and fitness.

Want to know more about the range of courses we offer? Download the OriGym course prospectus for more information.

Written by Abbie Watkins

Fitness Content Executive, OriGym

Join Abbie on Facebook at the OriGym Facebook Group

Holding an MA Marketing Communications and Branding as well as a BSc Psychology from the University of Liverpool, Abbie’s experience encompasses the retail, hospitality and fitness industries. Since joining OriGym, she has become a qualified Personal Trainer and gone on to complete a specialist qualification in advanced Sports Nutrition. Abbie’s main focuses cover staying up to speed with YouTube fitness influencers, identifying successful and innovative content formats. She has contributed to various publications, including the Daily Express. Beyond OriGym, she describes herself as a ‘work-hard, play-hard’ type going on scenic runs and upbeat exercise classes, and often found on the front row of a Saturday morning spin class. 

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