What Makes an Effective Teacher?

What Makes an Effective Teacher?

This article was originally published in the July/Aug 2013 issue of OM Yoga Magazine. You can read a selection of my past columns and a preview of the current issue of the magazine by clicking here.

Recently, I overheard some yoga students discussing different teachers’ classes. The consensus was that those who provided strong hands-on adjustments and physically challenging classes were more effective teachers and therefore more advanced. Of one teacher’s handstand demo, a young woman wistfully commented that was where her own practice “should” be. Aside from feeling that this lady’s practice is perfect as it is whether those handstands come along or not, I think these comments stemmed from their personal preferences for strong classes. It raised a few thoughts though, most notably: What makes an effective teacher and what is ‘advanced’?

It can be easy to think that the ability to perform physically challenging, visually impressive poses equals a good teacher; particularly as so many of the yoga images we now see feature aesthetically pleasing people in awe-inspiring asanas. Sometimes the people who can do all those things are undoubtedly brilliant teachers but in my experience it has not been because they can do those things.

After eleven years so far as a yoga student, my feeling is that the most important quality of any teacher is not the ability to do Scorpion, but the ability to create a safe space.

In creating a safe space, the adjustments question is an interesting one. I tend to adjust verbally when I am guiding a class and occasionally use a light touch. For a while I felt very bad about not doing hands-on adjustments in class, but my own experiences of being hurt as a result of being adjusted made me wary. My view changed when I trained with Judith Hanson Lasater and she mentioned that the longer she has taught over the last forty or so years, the less she physically adjusts, instead mostly using words and always asking permission before touching anyone, borne out of her own experiences. I feel this comes back to teaching from the heart.

Many of the best experiences I’ve had as a student are with teachers who can’t do the fancy poses themselves but by their presence create a safe space for everyone in the room to explore their practice.  To me, that’s the sign of a really good (dare I say, ‘advanced’) teacher.

As I continue to grow as a teacher, still new on this journey, I hope I’m able to do the same. Even if I can’t demo Scorpion for you.

Love Yoga? Teach Yoga losartan online. Check out Sally Parkes 200hr Teacher Training with the Brand New Mentoring Program to help you succeed in your chosen career as a yoga teacher. I’m privileged to be part of the teaching faculty on this course teaching Restorative Yoga and Back Care Yoga. For full details and course dates in London and Spain visit http://sallyparkesyoga.com/teacher-training/

2016 Yoga Retreat Calendar

2016 Yoga Retreat Calendar

Relax and Restore Retreats at Florence House

Join Sally Parkes & I on our Relax & Restore retreats at Florence House

Join Sally Parkes & I on our Relax & Restore retreats at Florence House


(Re)Treat Yourself in 2016!

I’m looking forward to teaching on three more weekend retreats with Sally Parkes Yoga this year at the stunning Florence House.

Our first Relax and Restore weekend retreat of 2016 is 18th-20th March.

This retreat at Florence House in Seaford in East Sussex is a wonderful blend of Dynamic, Hatha and Restorative Yoga and Pilates.

Classes are suitable for all abilities as well as beginners. There will also be a delicious, healthy menu and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and stunning Sussex coastline.

There are also a range of treatments available including:

Swedish and Deep Tissue Massage
Holistic and Dermalogica Facials
Indian Head Massage
Pedicures and Manicures

For full details of this retreat and to book your place please visit Sally’s website here. You will also find the complete retreat calendar for 2016.

Read a review of our Florence House retreats by Miss Wheezy here.

Relax & Restore Winter Retreat

Relax & Restore Winter Retreat

Relax & Restore Winter Retreat 13th-15th November 2015
Florence House (exterior front)

Our regular retreat at Florence House in Seaford in East Sussex is a wonderful blend of Dynamic, Hatha and Restorative Yoga and Pilates. Facilitated by Sally Parkes and I, this retreat focuses on re-balancing both the body and mind.

Classes are suitable for all abilities as well as beginners. There will also be a delicious, healthy menu and plenty of time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings and stunning Sussex coastline.

I’m really looking forward to returning to Florence House this November! This is the last retreat I will be teaching on in 2015, so if you would like to join us please click here to book via Sally’s website.

Plus you can find 2016 Florence House retreat dates here.

Want to Teach Yoga or Deepen Your Yoga Practice? Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training starts in February

Want to Teach Yoga or Deepen Your Yoga Practice? Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training starts in February

Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training with Sally Parkes

Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training with Sally Parkes

If you want to teach yoga or would like to deepen your practice then you still
have time to sign up for the next Laxmi Yoga 200hr Teacher Training with Sally Parkes.

Taking place over weekends in London plus a residential week in Spain this recognised Yoga Alliance UK and Independent Yoga Network course allows you to teach internationally.

The first of the London weekends is 28th February-1st March. I’m looking forward to meeting all the new teacher trainees in April when I’ll be introducing the group to teaching Restorative Yoga and Yoga for Back Care.

For full details, plus to hear from past graduates click here to visit Sally’s website.