Why the Best Yoga Teachers Are Students First


“Those who can’t do, teach,” is an old adage that’s relevant in many avenues of life. But it really doesn’t apply to yoga. First, there’s no such thing as being bad at yoga, especially if you see it as a lifestyle rather than something to check off your to-do list. And second, the best yoga teachers aren’t people who attend a 200-hour training and call it good. Instead, they’re lifelong students who make a commitment to continuous learning, growing, and evolving.

If you’re a yoga teacher or an aspiring one, it’s important to stay committed to your own practice and consider yourself a student first. Here are just some of the reasons why it’s crucial to keep it up for the long term.

There is an infinite amount to learn.

Maybe the best reason to keep studying is simply that you’ll never be done learning. Yoga is a long, rich tradition spanning various lineages, practices, and philosophies. There are different styles of yoga, different approaches to teaching, and different interpretations of texts and concepts. Studying subjects like anatomy and psychology can also help us better understand yoga and its effects. No matter how long you’ve practiced or how many hours of training you’ve completed, there’s always be more to learn.

Continuous study will humble you.

The more you study yoga, the more you see how incredibly vast it is. And with the realization of that vastness, and of what you don’t know, comes humility. The best teachers and leaders of all kinds are usually the ones who admit that they don’t know everything and are always open to a new perspective. A true teacher is not someone who can ace every pose in the book, but someone who has the patience, tenacity, and compassion to teach to all levels and to see themselves in their students, and the student in themselves.

You’ll keep up with new developments.

Though yoga is an ancient tradition, new developments still happen constantly. More and more research is being conducted on yoga and mindfulness, and following it can help you better understand and explain the benefits of the practice. Our understanding of the human body is also always evolving, which means we can keep refining how poses are taught. New styles of yoga are emerging as well. While you might not always agree with them, understanding their appeal can help you connect to your own students.

Your teaching will stay fresh and interesting.

If you teach frequently, it can be easy to fall into a rut. Regular students might find classes repetitive, and you could even start to feel bored in your teaching. By continuing your education, you’ll be exposed to new ideas and styles. The things you learn will give you different ways to approach teaching and new things to share with your students. Whether it’s a deeper understanding of anatomy, a different application of philosophy, or an innovative theme for your class, being able to offer something new will keep both you and your students engaged and curious.

The best teachers lead by example.

A “Do as I say, not as I do” approach doesn’t make for very authentic yoga teachers. But by sharing your dedication to your own study and practice, you can serve as an example for your students. Besides, you can only really relate to your students if you’re one yourself.

Do you want to continue your study of yoga? Join us for a retreat or training to keep learning!

About the Author


Jennifer Ambrose

Jen is a freelance writer, blogger, and yoga teacher who left her office job in Boston to travel the world with her husband. She previously worked in international development and academic research, and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Rwanda. Some of her biggest passions include promoting responsible and mindful travel and helping her students develop their personal yoga practice.