Moving in the Right Direction  
(Photo: Flickr user, tonibduguid)
(Photo: Flickr user, tonibduguid)

A good teacher will empower you

by - Story: 56945

Being a good communicator, articulating and delivering concepts, having excellent observation and evaluation skills, managing groups, an ability to be versatile and spontaneous, make decisions, be an example, and exercise empathy, patience, enthusiasm, inspiration and passion are all qualities of a good teacher. Because Pilates and yoga movements are tools in which to learn mind-body movement, the Pilates and/or yoga teacher cannot simply yell instructions at you. She/he needs to teach and empower you on how to access the right muscles for each movement.

Pilates and yoga teachers must skillfully present information in a way that the clients’ mind is able to connect the body to the correct movement. This is a challenge for the teacher if the clients’ mind has never considered such a possible movement in that particular body part, or if that body part has been injured and is weak, tight, or damaged. Pilates and yoga movements are movements that require an understanding of how the body can move. Therefore, Pilates and yoga movements require good teaching in order for the participant to articulate proper body positioning. I tell my clients, “when you find a good teacher, follow her/him anywhere.” A good teacher will make all the difference in your learning experience. I have evaluated fitness instructors, have gone through upper level learning and have spent many years observing and evaluating teachers and students. The following points are both my own and researched qualities of what you should look for in your Pilates and/or yoga teacher.


When you meet an instructor, he/she should have a strong understanding of their field. They should have certification with a recognized institution which shows you that they were able to adhere to specific qualifications that validates their knowledge on the subject matter. They should be able to answer your questions concisely and in language that you can understand.


The instructor should have a positive, healthy attitude. He or she should exercise a level of ease and confidence when conversing with you. The teacher should be respectful and polite to you and others around. Their body language should be open but not intrusive. He or she should be attentive to your questions and be listening to your concerns before giving you input, advise or opinion.


Passionate, encouraging, enthusiastic, inspiring and empowering are all qualities that my clientele mentioned when I asked them what they felt the qualities of a good teacher were. You want to feel like your teacher is doing everything within his or her power to have you feel successful. You want to feel good and even excited when you leave the session. When you first meet your instructor, she/he should put you at ease, make you feel comfortable and speak to you as a helper, counselor and partner in your quest for health.

The ability to teach

For me, this is the most important aspect for a teacher to have. The instructor needs to know, as well as have experienced, her content well. This will translate into an ability to properly communicate an expectation to the client. Expectations should be progressive. When you are learning a Pilates or yoga movement, there is a hierarchy of knowledge that should be presented to you. The movements are progressive and should be presented that way so that you are not overwhelmed with too much information all at once. There are essential basics that need to be learned first before you can safely go onto more movement. Simply, the instructor needs to know how to break down movements into its basic form, which satisfies the purpose (spine stabilization, back extension, balance, etc.) of the movement, and then progress with that movement to be able to challenge those who are ready for more.

Then you may ask your instructor, “why is this important?” and the instructor should be able to tell you how the movement is applicable to your life. For example, if the purpose of a movement is to stretch your hamstring, the instructor should tell you why its important to have open hamstrings.

Lastly, but not least, I feel that interaction between students and between teacher and students is very helpful for learning. Pilates and yoga lends itself to a very social environment during a session. A good instructor will ask you how you are feeling and if anyone has any questions or concerns. A good instructor will also be continually giving you feedback as to her observations. Your Pilates and/or yoga session is a time for self-discovery, fun and generally feeling good about who you are and your efforts in the session. As B.K.S. Iyengar says, “teaching is a difficult art, but it is the best service one can do for humanity.” As Jesus said, “where would we be if the teachers didn’t teach, …, my people parish for lack of knowledge.”

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About the Author

Lori Rockl graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Political Science. After working with the Federal Government through two elections, she escaped back into her gifted life of fitness training and now owns a successful Pilates & Yoga studio. Although her clientel tell her often how much they learn from her, Lori would tell you that she is the one that learns the most from her clients. For Lori, the study of the mind-body connection is an infinitely fascinating study. She has found that Pilates and yoga are excellent tools for healthy living and incorporate those tools into her marathon and triathalon training. Please contact lori at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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