If you’re going to go to yoga you want to know that it’s good yoga, and that the teacher is a good one. Trouble is, how do you know if it’s *good* yoga?
I’ve had this discussion with potential yoga practitioners quite often. It is an interesting task to try and explain what defines ‘good’ in a practice that is so varied and where the experience is so subjective. I thought I’d ask a few other yoga teachers to offer their definition of ‘good’ yoga.
I can’t say I was surprised by their responses but I was inspired. The thing with yoga is, there is magic in it. You will always get more than you thought you would, and often more than you realise from the practice. It has a way of bringing out the very best in us.
All the teachers I spoke to were just as hesitant about the word ‘good’ in connection to yoga as I am, yet they did their best to give me an answer. None of the teachers suggested a particular style, yet there was some general agreement about the qualities of ‘good’ yoga.
Suzanne (Gold Coast Yoga Centre) talks about yoga as deconditioning the mind, even deconditioning societal norms. She uses a flower analogy, just as different flowers need different conditions to bloom so we need different teachers and pathways. For all the seriousness of yoga though she says if your teacher hasn’t got a sense of humour run away!
Hollie (Seeds of Life Retreats) agrees that it isn’t about the style so much as a teacher who is interested in meeting your needs and intuitively reading the class’ needs. Good yoga is infusing spiritual teachings and providing an inspired and well thought out class.
Laura Humphreys also spoke about a teacher who gives what the student needs rather than wants. It’s about providing yoga that encourages the student to deconstruct the ego and break out of negative patterns in the body, mind and energetic body.
Michelle (Essence of Living) gives a guideline to good practice as one that balances the strength and flexibility of the entire body. The balancing of the physical form allows for easier flow of energy through the body giving us a greater sense of wellbeing. Breathing practices to help balance the brain which gives greater self awareness which in turn opens our compassionate and kind natures.
For me (Erin, Aloka Yoga & Pilates), good yoga is all of the above and a good teacher is one that you connect with. All yoga is ultimately leading to the same place, leading us all home to our true selves without all the conditioning of the world and our old stuff. When you move the body you start to move the energy, then you start to move your thoughts and emotions. This changes how we show up in the world, and as Michelle says, yoga is how you live, not what you do.