6 Things Yoga Teachers Want to Tell You

In 2018, I became a yoga teacher. Markus and I actually did our 200 hr yoga teacher training course together in Rishikesh, India. Needless to say, it was life- and relationship-changing. We use what we learned to further create our thriving life together and also share with others.

I practice yoga every day and know that I am first a yoga student. The learning never ends. This is the fun bit of it! And for other yogis, below is what I can share today, from one yoga teacher and student to another.

1. Yoga will not magically solve all your problems.

I wish it would. Unfortunately, yoga will not improve our dick of a colleague, resolve our childhood traumas, or fill the void inside our chests. These will continue to exist and cause daily irritation or anxiety. What yoga gives us though is clarity, calm, humility, and patience to deal with our problems right at the core.

2. Yoga is more beneficial when we make it our own.

Modifying postures is not a sign of weakness but a pillar of body awareness and intelligence. Sure, the ideal forward fold has our belly resting on straight legs, but if our body is not available today, we bend our knees to open the posterior leg muscles and benefit from the posture more.

In our yoga practice, we use the postures to access the body and not the other way around. Yoga yields more benefits when we make the shapes our own. It also feels a lot better.

Each posture is unique for every yogi. As long as we are using the right muscles, we are doing the same pose even if it hardly looks like the shape of the teacher or the yogi on the next mat.

3. Yoga is a flow.

I used to be really rigid with my early practice. Now I have tremendous appreciation for fluidity, freedom of movement, body curiosity – almost a playful approach to yoga. This mindset allows me to meet my body where it is at today and laugh more when I wobble and fall. Then, I was so concerned with ‘doing it right’ and ‘advancing’. Now my daily practice is dedicated to healing my body and finding space, no matter how that looks like.

4. Yoga practice builds mindfulness, but not that mindfulness.

Since the ancient times, yoga has been intertwined with spirituality and rituals. We all believe what we need to believe, of course. But first, yoga is a practice that builds our attention muscle, a simple tool that helps in being more present and connected with the breath and body.

One of my yoga teachers in Rishikesh said, “I know you like to think of the Universe, spirituality, and all that higher stuff, but just focus on the now, do the postures, and breathe.” For the most part, yoga has enormous practical benefits that do not have to involve anything mystical or airy-fairy.

5. Yoga postures are created equal.

I hesitated signing-up for my yoga teacher training course because I could not do a headstand. Not that it was a requirement, but I just thought I needed to do advance postures to become a teacher. I laugh about it now. All postures are created equal.

Further, the more I practice, the more I see the importance of basic postures. They open the body and build the foundation for advanced poses. Doing it the other way around sets the body back and hurts it in the process.

Basic postures have the added advantage of allowing us to relax fully. This is where we benefit from a pose. We can easily find our edge, focus on the breathe, and encourage the body to open up.

Instead, we tend to perform advanced postures. It gets worse when we force the body to achieve them. Remember, yoga is not about the shapes we can do but about the shape of our lives.

6. Yoga retreats are life-changing.

There is magic when people on the same wave length meet and spend meaningful days together. Pre-pandemic, Markus and I facilitated wellness retreats focused on mindfulness and empowerment.

Naturally, we practiced yoga daily and other activities that help us to connect with life – ourselves, the people around us, the beautiful island of Bali, and the local communities. The feedback we receive is always humbling and we cannot be happier for our participants who made progress by simply giving themselves space.

Sometimes, all we need to pull ourselves together and start creating our thriving life is a pause, a breathe, and people that support and accept us unconditionally. Now, that is magic.

Complement this post with Kathy’s beautiful thoughts on meditation for beginners, drawing from her 17 years of practice.

110 thoughts on “6 Things Yoga Teachers Want to Tell You

    1. Thank you and welcome to our blog. Appreciate your thoughts about our wellness retreats. All the scheduled ones for this year were cancelled! But that is okay – more to look forward to in the future. It would be fun to connect with you in one for sure.

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  1. I love this! I started yoga this year, then it all paused while the world fell apart. But I’m really looking forward to getting back to it and I really love the fun and positivity that’s the whole way through this post – thank you!

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    1. Thank you. There is no need to be serious or competitive, right? It is just yoga! Happy to hear you have started yoga, too. Did you stop because the studios closed? There are many online classes on YouTube that are high quality. You can still practice at home with excellent instruction. What is your favorite pose?

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        1. Who are your favorite YouTube teachers? I enjoy Cat Meffan, Jessica Richburg, Yoga TX, Five Parks Yoga, and Yoga with Tim. The instruction is excellent, plus movements are intuitive. I really enjoy those classes. I hope you do get back to it. Always nice to find space for ourselves and relax within the day.

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    1. Glad to know you are curious. I can recommend YouTube classes of Cat Meffan or Jessica Richburg. Instructions are clear. Five Parks Yoga and Yoga with Tim are also good sources of excellent free yoga classes.

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  2. Most days, I do yoga in the morning and evening. In the afternoons, I either walk of ride my bike.
    I used to not be able to sit Indian style. Now I can do so much more. (Not to your level.)

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    1. Reading this made me smile. How lovely that you are able to create space in your day and practice these things. It sounds really nice. And congratulations on opening your body more and more. I am still limited in many ways, but that is why we practice yoga, right?

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      1. Practice, yes. I’m surprised that I’m not as flexible as I think I should be for some of the easier poses. Other poses, I doubt I’ll ever get there. That’s okay. There are plenty of poses to keep me occupied. ;0)

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        1. I feel the same way sometimes. One day I can do a pose, the next day I cannot. But that is normal for all of us. We just practice with the body we have for the day. I appreciate your attitude. I would not be surprised if you will actually get to the advanced postures sooner than you think. What is your favorite pose?

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    1. Thank you. It is fun, filled with activities that get us to connect with what is around us. How ifte are we truly able to find meaning in what we do, in our day? It is a good experience that we love sharing to others. Have you gone to retreats before?

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      1. I do light yoga and pranayama. It helps me to feel balanced and flexible and also to enjoy my golf. I was fortunate to be initiated in yoga by the Yogacharya BKS Iyengar for one year. But then I had to move on a transfer.

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        1. Sounds good! Iyengar yoga is challenging but also feels good. And I agree – yoga can support sports. It feels so nice to stretch pre- and post- training. Like dead muscles come back to life. How long have you been playing golf?

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  3. I’ve always wanted to join yoga retreats! I’ve done a couple of ‘flows’ I found on Youtube, even tried practicing the headstand, but I’d like to experience yoga in a peaceful location with a community. I guess that’s not happening anytime soon :/ Thank you so much for sharing!

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    1. Yes, it is really different. We react to the positive energy, get inspired, and rise above in ways we think we could not. It is a lot of fun to discover beautiful things, sights, and people, too. We will let you know once we are able to organize the next retreat. Let us keep hoping that it will be soon!

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  4. This is refreshing to read. I’ve always been intimidated with yoga because of the difficult poses I’ve seen on social media 😅 but reading this encouraged me more to try it. I want to have that flow as well as other benefits that come with practicing yoga. I read your recommended videos in the comments above. I’ll definitely try it even just for a few minutes each day.

    Also, I’d love to attend your retreats in the future! 💖 I’ve always been a fan of retreats back when I was in high school.

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    1. Thank you, Nath. I find that most yoga on Instagram is different from everyday practice. I hope you give it a try. Short classes are a good start. You can look for gentle flow or restorative flow or classes for beginners specifically. It would be nice to see you in one of our retreats. We host them in Bali and here in The Ph. Hopefully next year!

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  5. I think #2 was the biggest revelation for me when I started taking yoga classes. I worried beforehand that I’d be tossed out for not complying with the instructions for the perfect asana, but was pleasantly surprised by my teacher’s “go with what works for you” attitude. I read Kathy’s post. I love it when two bloggers I follow write posts that complement each other.

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    1. I know! If I did that training muay thai, my coach would shred me. It is one of the nicest facets of yoga. It meets us where we are. What is your favorite pose, Ally? And yes, Kathy’s post was beautiful. I thought it complemented this one really well. Do you practice meditation, too?

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      1. Good questions. I like a good stretch so I’d say downward facing dog. I don’t meditate in the sense of daily sitting somewhere at a set time but more in the sense of I can be still just about anywhere and chill out within. I’ve no problem NOT thinking all the time!

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    1. Rishikesh is nice. It is a lot different from other places in India, but also the same in some aspects. I wish you can do your teacher training at some point. Where did you finish your 200-hr course? I can also refer you to our school, if you want. The course was really good. And yes, I wish we can do yoga together, too. What is your favorite class? Many thanks!

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    1. Thanks! Well, if it is not to feel good, then what use is it? Everyone wants to get ‘there’ but there is no ‘there’ in yoga. Not that we should not challenge ourselves but that we should not force it. Let it flow, right? How is it going with the crow? I really wish we can practice together at some point.

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      1. so true! some teachers have this very “pushy” approach that I dont really like, I understand that some people are trying to work out with their yoga classes, but for me it is more about have that hour for me and just switch off for a bit! I gave up on the crow pose ahaha it will come in time, but for now I will just enjoy my practice! I am sure in the future we will be able to!!!

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        1. I agree, there must be a balance of challenging ourselves and finding ease. Most times, I practice to relax and lengthen my muscles that are dead from working out. It feels so nice. Yes, we just keep enjoying it. The same happened with my headstand actually. I just do the prep poses every day and one day, it just felt like I could flip so I did!

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  6. Micah, I absolutely love this post. Yoga is so misunderstood. Media has a way of taking something sacred and twisting it into unrecognizable forms, doesn’t it? Sure, some people focus most on saying mantras and the spiritual side of Yoga. To me, it’s just a beautiful art form that benefits our bodies in ways we couldn’t even imagine.

    I wish that I could take your class. So many of these poses are tremendous for back pain and other forms of chronic pain. As you said so beautifully – the right poses at the right stage of development, relax our muscles, and help the body to heal in various ways. Add in the benefits of focusing on breathing (amazing!), and we are dealing with whole-body health. That’s why I love the holistic approach so much. We are far more than just a body.

    It was fascinating to read about your yoga studies, and how the two of you became closer as a result. Incredibly heart warming. It’s a blessing to wake up each day, with less stress and chaos, and love what you do, isn’t it? God bless you both for being willing to take the risk and go for living a full life! 💕

    P.S. I adore your emphasis on this being about the journey, not the destination. Perfectionism is a lie!

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    1. We should totally start a perfectly imperfect club together. I agree with the points you raised. I think it is dangerous when we add frivolities to simple things. We might just miss the point altogether. And yes, yoga or stretching or whatever we want to call it, helps the mind and body relax by a lot. I wish I can do a class with you, too. Maybe one day. When we are able to facilitate retreats again. Markus helps me with adjustments when I am teaching group classes. He offers awesome support to students. It is hard to modify individually for 20 people at once! Thank you for your well-wishes. Much appreciated as always. Much love back.

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  7. You can do a handstand – that’s so impressive!!!
    Coming from the land of yoga, I honestly haven’t found yoga interesting ever. 🙈 I only do meditation and yoga breathing exercises to clear my mind. But when I did have back pain over a year back (corporate job woes!), the doctor suggested a few yoga poses and they worked really well! But somehow I can’t bring myself to do yoga everyday – I definitely prefer going to the gym. What was your motivation to start doing yoga?

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    1. Headstand, yes. I cannot do a handstand because of a previous muay thai injury. Pranayama is the best, isn’t it? It is amazing how a few deep breaths can change everything. Happy to know yoga relieved your back pain. Was it really bad? I do gym exercises and yoga together. I found they complement each other and helps in faster recovery. I discovered yoga when I injured my wrist from muay thai. I was blown away with how quiet my mind became and how restored my muscles felt. Opposite of muay thai. Haha!

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      1. Wow. From boxing to yoga? That’s quite a journey. 😛
        Oh that makes sense – yoga + gym. I just find yoga extremely boring. Maybe since we were taught yoga through school so I associate it with the boring teacher who taught us. 🙈

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        1. I do muay thai, which is Thai kickboxing and trained at Phuket Top Team. Have you tried boxing or muay thai? I recently stopped training muay thai three years ago because of an MCL injury. Sorry about your uninspiring yoga teacher. There are some teachers that I do not connect with, too. Mainly those that talk in this dreamy, breathy, I-am-so-spiritual types. I hope you can still give yoga a chance sometime. When we are open to things, the right teacher comes along. What kind of exercises do you do at the gym?

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          1. I’m a cardio junkie. I love sweating it out when I workout. Mainly because the rest of the day I spend sitting in front of the laptop.
            Maybe I’ll be inspired by you to give yoga another chance. ☺️

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            1. I agree with you. Cardio is fun! I hope nobody shoots us for saying this. I really like the workout programs of Chloe Ting on YouTube. How are you working out now when gyms are closed? Thank you, that is good to know. Maybe yoga will find you one day. Or maybe it already did.

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              1. I loveee Chloe! Her workouts are so good – very intense and so effective. I had to attend a wedding last year and wanted help with toning down my tummy to look good in my outfit. I did her 28 day program very seriously and I actually ended up looking fab in the outfit.

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                    1. My workout isn’t fixed. It depends on my mood for the day but on most days I do combination of these for 1-1.5hrs: 20mins skipping, 30mins walking, 35mins HIIT, 40mins cardio (instructor led on this Indian workout app).

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  8. I checked out Jessica Richburg, I did that restorative yoga flow. It was the best thing that I did this week, but it kind of hurt my joints a little bit 😅 I’m young but that whole routine made my body feel old 😂 thanks for the recommendation by the way.

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            1. Oh, do tell more about the bootcamp. It sounds interesting! I teach vinyasa and restorative every day on our wellness retreats. It depends on the activities of the day what the morning class will be. It is a lot of fun to teach in this environment.

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  9. Sorry, I got distracted with how cute you and Markus are together! I honestly think I’ll start yoga tomorrow, I know it’s no magic pill but I am super stressed and need a bit of that flow. Will let you know once I’m done! Any videos or something you recommend?

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    1. I thought of you today when I saw my orchid bloom! I hope you can practice and find stress-relief. You can look up restorative yoga flow from Cat Meffan or Jessica Richburg on YouTube. I like them both a lot. Please let me know how it turned out. I hope it helps!

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      1. Blooming orchid? So it isn’t a myth huh 🙈 thanks for the recommendations, I’ll def try it out today. I even have my skipping rope next to my work station so will try fit in five 5 minute sessions today! Starting small 😊

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  10. Thank you for the link about meditation, Micah! That was very kind of you. I love your points about yoga practice, especially the section about flow, and how you practice yoga to find space and heal your body, and not just rigidly do the poses. That makes me want to practice yoga with you–although I am pretty much a beginner. I have made up my own tailor-made sunrise salutation and do that many days during the week. Just call them “yoga stretches” and do them because they make the body go ahhhhhh.

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    1. Knowing about your personalized surya namasakara makes me so happy! I wish you can teach it to me and we can do it together. Honestly, I tell my mother I just do stretches – does it really matter what we call it? As long as our body feels nice, I am taking it! I enjoy practicing with beginners and those that believe they cannot do yoga. I love seeing the look on their faces when they are able to do it!

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  11. I once signed up for a “silent” yoga event (music and instruction through headphones) but was unable to attend. At my last job, a wonderful coworker lead a class in the office gym twice a week. She knew I had an overwhelming job and often encouraged me to attend and simply lay on the floor to get a break. I miss her!!

    I am the only person I know who HATES “child’s pose”. All my fat fights for space and I end up suffocating!! I found a different pose for relaxing but can’t recall it now.

    I used to LOVE when skinny beotches got upset about me being more stretchy than them. My hips are super flexible!! My shoulders were too till I did a pushup move with bad form and permanently wrecked my shoulder.

    I’d love to read more about your yoga training experience!!!!!

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    1. I think my reply was not posted yesterday. I was saying it is great to have someone who makes tou practice yoga even if you don’t want to and after the session you feel so good! I am glad you found an alternative to child’s pose. You have done well with the adjustment! And yes, it is not about size at all and I wish my hips are also flexible. It gets really tight, like I feel like tin man from Oz some days. Of course, what would you like to know about our YTT? We write a post and dedicate it to you.

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      1. I’m interested in everything about the experience… the instruction, the culture, the mental effect, your relationship, the food, what you did in your spare time, India in general… literally anything and everything!

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    1. I also wish I am flexible, but I am not really. I have plenty of limitations, but this is why I practice yoga. It meets us where our body is at. We modify to access the body and maybe one day we can find the full expression of poses. I am so curious what your supposedly not flexible body can do!

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