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How to become a 'good' yoga teacher

Updated: Oct 9, 2021


How to become a good yoga teacher?


I have been trying to answer this question for over 12 years now… And not only to myself - to all the students who came to our yoga teacher training courses - in India, in Bali, in New Zealand, in Germany. So far I’ve trained and prepared to teach yoga a few thousands people from all over the world. Some of them are famous, some of them are not, but in general the majority is exceptional, passionate, inspiring, sensitive, compassionate, and highly qualified. Many became real experts. Some - for different reasons - will never teach, and that’s ok, even though I regret you will never hear their melodic voices, get their warm hands-on adjustments, or feel their inspiring sequences and vibes.


Is Yoga Teacher Training Course the way?


When it comes to my research on how to become a good yoga teacher (and how as a yoga trainer I can contribute to that) - my answer is a bit complex. In order to deliver the best possible yoga teachers to this world, I managed to build my own methodology, my system inspired mainly by my own theatre education, but - in fact - everybody is so unique that the algorithm is far away from perfection. Of course, it is not entirely up to me or my team either… Even the best yoga teacher training program cannot replace many elements such as people’s personal growth, maturity, empathy, self-esteem, passion, or experience. I am here to see people’s potential. I am here to see and point out their talents. I am here to see the things we can work on. I am here to deliver tools and knowledge. And then, I try to nourish them as much as I can, but just like growing a plant - not everything will always blossom. Let’s not forget - some people join Yoga TTC simply for themselves - to heal, to discover some answers, or to learn what’s wrong with their pigeon pose.


Yoga TTC, Dharamsala / India 2014


The question I have been asking to myself for years is: is everybody “trainable” - in yoga, and in teaching? Is everybody able to become a yoga teacher? Is everybody able to prepare a safe and decent yoga sequence, and guide others through? Well, I still believe mostly yes, but there has to be a strong intention for that, or at least an openness for that.

I remember one time I came back from teaching practicum - the exercise in which students present their sequences and teach one another - and there was this girl who seemed not to get it at all, not to be able to share anything from her world with us, she would not even look into our eyes, she would not listen. I sat and had a coffee (of course coffee is my remedy for all troubles in life), my face got tense and stiff as I tried to penetrate my brain in search of some ideas what to do to inspire this girl, and then my assistant Asya looked at me with a gentle smile and said “Karo, not everybody is here to become a good yoga teacher, remember?”. Yes, that’s a great reminder…


Yoga Teacher Training Courses for me are a bit like courses for driving licence - you definitely can learn how to start. A small difference is that most of our students had already practiced some yoga before coming to us, whereas to driving licence courses not everybody comes with a driving experience. But the idea is similar. In both cases you get a solid package of knowledge and skills to start your adventure - as a driver or as a yoga teacher. Nobody is a good driver right after the course, but has foundations to drive. Not everybody is a good yoga teacher right after Yoga TTC, but everybody has foundations to start.


Goats, Wine & Palo Santo


The beauty of being a yoga teacher today is that there is no format, no “one for all” standard, no uniform. It has changed a lot since I began this journey. Today we can be who we actually are, and still teach ‘yoga’ - whether with goats, wine or Palo Santo. Today yoga teachers come in all different shapes and forms: male, female, cross-gender; flexible, stiff or injured; people of different ethnics, cultures and systems of believes. Doctors, lawyers, healers, hippies, physiotherapists, psychotherapists, rebels, musicians…uff, I don’t even know how to keep the track. Some are serious, some are funny. Some make you sweat, and some make you sleep. Before you judge, remember - this world has space for diversity, and maybe your yoga simply does not define yoga for others.


I’ve met so many incredible people in our Yoga TTC project, and I have been listening to all their stories - dreams, fears, plans, doubts, experiences and opinions… It never stops fascinating me: the truly divine diversity of people, even though, essentially we all are ONE.


Art of teaching


Back in 2009, when I became a leader of Yoga Teacher Training Courses in India and Trimurti Yoga Program Director, I had to design an unique 200-hour teacher training course - one that had not existed before, and I took this task seriously. I had already collected 7-year experience with my own yoga practice, three years of random teaching yoga here and there, a bit of scientific research (since that was what I really found intriguing), and - most importantly - my previous experience as a theatre pedagogue. All these elements are super important - remember yoga is a very multi-layer field. Science, psychology, philosophy, art, metaphysic… in order to understand the yoga’s potential you need to see its complex web!


Yoga TTC in Goa, India

Trimurti Yoga Team, 2019


Teaching methodology was always my biggest passion. Working with people with Down Syndrome or schizophrenia, I always wanted to find out how to translate some skill or knowledge for someone who sees the world differently than myself. I wanted to see people growing, despite all differences and limitations. We all have some. Assisting them in this process, empowering them when they need it, reminding them they are capable. That’s what I love about teaching…


Yoga education that I have experienced and observed lacked teaching methodology almost completely. A few teacher training courses that I took myself as a student seriously missed that point. Nobody was teaching me how to teach, or how to build yourself as a teacher. Nobody mentioned neurodiversity and even diversity of our anatomy. Nobody worked with our instructions, our own language and “truth”, our voice projection, interpersonal skills, communication, personal challenges, or even with our unique talents - we had to just memorise a sequence and phrases written by someone else, we had to copy a “guru”, we had to pretend.


There was a “master” and disciples who followed. There was no space for questions, explanations, methods, individuality. Like if we all learnt in the same way, in the same speed, or for the same purpose… Don’t get me wrong - I owe to the Eastern tradition a lot. I am grateful for the discipline of every ashram I entered, silence that was forced upon me, for no permission for my questioning mind, and for a rigid routine without modification for my “different” body. But on the other hand, knowing what I know today - I cannot accept that’s a standard of education.


Is my downward dog good enough?


For most of the teachers in the past my shoulders in downward dog were always akward or “incorrect”, but nobody explained me why. Why - from the anatomy perspective - external rotation of the humerus is what we should do here. Or what happens when someone feels it is just not right or even painful. Another time, my arm was too short to bind in the twist. But again, no explanation, no reflection on “what if another person is different”. Some teachers just laughed at it, some ignored it, some - gave some nice tips “instead”, but some - trying to “help” - used violence. The peak of my frustration took a place when one of my teachers (sadly, pretty popular one) just jumped on my back to push me further in paschimottanasana. I struggled to accept that as a “norm” or a “teaching tool”. I loved yoga dearly, but many experiences in my own yoga education were far away from the values or vision I share.


Please remember, teaching is not about how amazing your downward dog is! Teaching yoga to others is not about us, or our practice. Sure - we need to have experience in order to share it, we need to build a solid self practice, its understanding, but teaching yoga goes much beyond that! Many courses just ignored this wisdom completely, and that’s why I took this challenge, and built Yoga TTC in India myself. Just imagine - me, a Polish young woman teaching yoga in India… I smile with a gentle disbelief every single time I analyse this fact. But the truth is - yoga is for everyone. It is! Yoga can be understood by everyone. There is no discrimination, no race, no political view it should belong to! And hence - everybody can teach yoga, even me and you.


My own method


In all these programs that I’ve created for years I follow my strongest believes that everybody has a potential to share yoga from her/his own perspective, naturally supported by studying science, its philosophy and techniques, understanding the anatomy, understanding what yoga can do for us. But just understanding yoga (wow, if it is even possible fully!) in my eyes is not equal to be a good yoga teacher. A good yoga teacher knows how to SHARE it with others, still giving space for choice, independent thinking, different opinions…

In my method we explore and map together your teaching resources:

  • your strong points

  • your challenges

  • your passion and background

  • your previous education and experience

  • your interest and curiosity

  • your knowledge and skills

  • your dreams and ideas

  • your self practice and aims


And then together we will find the best way for you to grow in the direction we both see as ‘fertile’. Many things happen just naturally, in-between, “by themselves”, but my experience is that people need some encouragement, support, space and strategy. Someone who sees their potential from a distance. I love being this person who tries to show you your inner beautiful teacher, and assists you in giving your voice some power.



Yoga TTC, Bali 2019




So, again, how to become a good yoga teacher?


A good yoga teacher for me is someone who simply wants to grow in this beautiful field, and makes an effort to do so. A good yoga teacher is authentic. It is someone who is curious and open minded. Someone who is courages and vulnerable. Someone who learns and generously shares it. A person who is in love with people despite their darker sides. Someone who constantly grows, but also constantly cuts his/her own ego. A master in running a dialog - speaks his/her own truth, but also listens.

A good yoga teacher is a sincere person who choses love and light in the times of darkness, but still stays human… It is one of us. How to do it - that's a great question.

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3 Comments


eman saffo
eman saffo
Oct 11, 2021

karo you are a great inspiration for many!

thank you 💚

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A beautiful reflection. I am so thankful to have crossed paths with you and have started my yoga teaching journey with trimurti.

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Karolina Krawczyk
Karolina Krawczyk
Oct 07, 2021
Replying to

Thank you Maya! 💖

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