The yoga industry is interesting. Somehow it has sadly developed into an elitist form of exercise. Much of this is due to the cost, at a bare minimum classes are at least ten dollars but most are about 15 dollars a class. In the current economy, its easy to see why someone may not maintain a consistent yoga practice or even start at all. Yoga, however, has been around for thousands of years before turning into a multimillion dollar industry.
Teachers are great. They can teach students new poses or sequences. They can assist with fixing alignment. Motivation levels may increase by attending classes with peers. However, often the best yoga teacher will be the students themselves.
Imagine a typical yoga class. There can twenty people in a room. Each person is different in terms of flexibility, strength, emotional awareness, personality type, and so on. Additionally, individuals themselves change as hey go through different periods of their lives or simply by how they feel that day. Yet many classes, although not all, are taught with a one-size fits all approach. While some teachers give different modification levels, classes are frequently taught at a macro level. Students are told how fast they are supposed to do their sun salutations, how long their breaths should be, or how deep to get into a pose without regard to what their individual needs are. While teachers have the best intentions, they are limited in terms of how they can teach so many people in one session.
Students have an internal awareness that can be heard if they focus enough. That awareness can quickly become their best teachers. For example, a highly charged individual who is an excellent at multitasking (in yoga terms this is a vata personality type) may have multiple thoughts constantly racing through her mind. Eventually, if the constant strain of doing multiple things and once becomes overwhelming, she can tune into that with her awareness. That awareness can be brought onto her yoga mat. Instead of doing an ashtanga practice, a meditative yin practice can bring more balance to her life. She may also attend a regular hatha practice and simply slow down instead of directly following the teachers instructions. She may even want to simply skip the class and do a practice at home with meditation or her own sequence of slow asanas.Her needs cannot be met by the guidance of a yoga instructor in a typical class setting.
Yoga teachers are wonderful. However, each yogi has his or her own internal voice that can effectively guide them through their practice.