Finding the Yoga Teacher for You

There’s a reason why more and more doctors are recommending that their patients practice yoga. When yoga is performed safely, with awareness, it can help many common disorders and maladies, assist people to feel more alive in their bodies, maintain function, decrease health-care costs, and help us navigate physical and emotional circumstances.

But it is possible to get hurt practicing yoga. Like any other physical activity, it must be approached mindfully, with proper knowledge of how the body aligns, in order to get these great results.

How do you find a yoga teacher you can trust? Especially when your body feels stiff or vulnerable, or you have a chronic injury?

Typically, 200 hours is the minimum level of study a teacher will have under his or her belt. That said, training programs vary from trainer to trainer, school to school. Furthermore, some styles of yoga emphasize alignment and form, while others do not.

Here are some important questions to ask about your teacher’s background.

  1. Is this teacher a graduate of a 200- or 500-hour training? Did they graduate from more than one 200- or 500 hour training?
  2. Did the style of yoga they trained in emphasize alignment and form?
  3. Who trained them? Are their trainers known for working with students on form, alignment, and injuries during the practice?
  4. Do they have any other credentials, such as a background in physical therapy, massage therapy, or sports medicine?

Once you have a deeper knowledge of a teacher’s credentials, attend a few classes to make sure that you resonate with each other and you feel safe on the mat.

Your teacher should be respectful of your limitations and personal boundaries, yet still exude a genuine confidence and wisdom regarding your needs.

In other words, they should be able to hear you when you say “No, I’m not ready to do that pose yet.” And, at the same time, they should be knowledgeable enough to help you gain confidence in a posture and practice it safely with props, clear alignment cues, and modifications.

© Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. All rights reserved. To request permission to reprint, please e-mail

Amy Ippoliti is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist known for her innovative methods for bridging the gap between ancient wisdom and modern life. She champions eco-consciousness and conservation.

Full Bio and Programs