Advancing with the Basics

How the fundamentals of yoga will prepare you for being a yoga instructor.

Teaching yoga is an art that’s developed over years of experience, but it all starts with the basics. Without mastering the fundamentals of yoga, you can’t expect to master the art of teaching the practice to others. One of the most common questions we have in our yoga teacher trainings is how to identify and correct improper alignment. While, yes, a 200-hour training will better prepare you to identify improper alignment, the only way to be sure you’re properly assisting others is to master the fundamentals yourself.

By refining your personal yoga practice, you optimize the positive benefits you receive from yoga. By practicing the fundamentals of yoga, you’ll receive not just physical alignment benefits, but also find alignment with your breath, your attitude, and the way you want to live.

In a classroom setting, you have only a few moments with each of your students to correct an imbalance or aid in an injury, and being aware of the correct alignment and the basics is crucial. If you are a master of the foundations of yoga, you are better equipped to teach and share your love of yoga with others.

Mastering the basics will also help you properly demonstrate the poses, providing the appropriate example for your students before moving around the classroom to help them adjust. And by focusing on breathing, the most crucial element of yoga, you can help your students flow safely and easily through the poses.

In his Back to Basics 6-week series and as a 200-Hour Teacher Training Instructor, Joe Taft helps his students return to and master the basics of yoga, better preparing them for a future of teaching. The series goes through a set of principles that you can learn and apply to the classroom to better assist your students.

Simplifying the practices and mastering the basics also helps you to instruct the less experienced students without intimidating them, and allows you to provide advanced modifications for advanced students. In a nutshell, everyone can benefit from learning the basics — whether you’re just getting started or you’re an experienced yoga instructor — each time you return to your roots you’ll learn something new. And that deeper awareness will not only help make you a better yoga instructor, but it will also help you to live your life more fully.