What makes a yoga teacher?

One of the (many) things I love about yoga teacher trainings is the interesting conversations that come up. Gosh, they are downright juicy. At times they can be uncomfortable but almost always they shed a spotlight directly at your "stuff" and if you're open to it, you'll end up better for it. And more often than not, you're left with more questions and know less than you thought you did. As a student, I don't mind being in the grey. I'm insatiably curious.

In the coming months, I will have the privilege of facilitating such inquiries and discussions. I am blessed with the opportunity to lead a teacher training this coming March with a small group that I respect so much.

So a question I've been asking for a while, probably since I started teaching almost 10 years ago: movement and yoga, at what point can you call yourself a yoga teacher?

The landscape of yoga has changed DRASTICALLY in the last 10 years, so as I embark on being a teacher trainer, this question has now kicked into high gear. 

I see the seat of the teacher as a very powerful, yet sacred place. Yet, whenever I try to strike a hard definition, I always find myself back in the grey. If one could write the definition of "yoga teacher" in the dictionary, what would that look like? Is it the ability to teach a certain sequence of positions safely? Mastering the ancient philosophy? Having a regular home/meditation practice?

It's very hard to be purist about yoga, given that IT, like anything that's in use, is constantly changing.

Languages change all the time as people use them. The only ones that don’t are the ‘dead’ ones like Latin. Bodies change all the time as we use them too - it’s called adaptive change.

Why would yoga be any different?

Yoga has, in fact a rather twisted history (pun intended) and what we call yoga these days bears a great resemblance to what people called street contortionism a hundred years ago.

And a WHOLE bunch of poses that are in common rotation now didn’t exist, to the best of my knowledge, when I started practicing yoga. Because it’s constantly changing.

Knowing this broadens the scope somewhat for what could be called yoga.


Do you teach mindful movement?

Is there breath awareness?

Are you skillfully creating an experience, a journey? 

Do you hold space to facilitate evolution?


As a teacher of yoga, if you are teaching body and breath awareness, then you are doing a great job already.