I was recently told a story by someone who used to do Iyengar classes with a teacher who would direct rather personal comments to her students during their practice, including bluntly telling one poor lady on more than one occasion that she was “too chunky” (!) Not surprisingly, she didn’t keep those classes up, despite having actually enjoyed Iyengar.
This story reminded me of how fortunate I am that I get to regularly practice with wonderful teachers. I currently practice at my yoga home 5-6 times a week and periodically elsewhere too. One thing this has led me to observe is that people seem to have so many different reasons for coming to yoga. (Who knows what possible traumas might have been going on in that lady’s life when she was told by that teacher she was “too chunky”, for instance?). Years ago I just assumed a good yoga teacher was seen as someone who was bendy and had perfect expressions of all the asanas. However, as a student who has also been on the end of some less than considerate teacher comments in the past and worked with injuries, inflexibility, excess weight, depression… it’s made me increasingly feel that one of the most important aspects to being a good teacher is to be able to guide students through their practice with passion and compassion. There is so much to be said for kindness.
I also feel it’s no coincidence that good teachers tend to have a regular practice themselves.
I wish I was able to meet that lady and bring her along to my yoga home, but unfortunately that’s not possible. I hope she found a good teacher.
In my very humble experience, I would suggest to anyone looking to find a good teacher, enquire as to whether your prospective teachers have a regular practice. If the answer is ‘yes’, then the chances are you might be in luck.