Yoga Teacher vs Instructor: What’s the Difference?

Yoga Teacher vs Instructor is there a difference, or are they the same thing? To get to the answer, I dropped the “Yoga” and looked at the Cambridge University definitions of teacher and instructor. This is what I got:

  • A teacher is a person who instructs or trains others. 
  • An Instructor is a person whose job is to teach people a skill 

To Summarize, an instructor is someone who teaches a particular skill or trade and a teacher is someone who instructs students in a classroom setting.

Chances are, if you search Teacher vs Instructor, you may come up with various answers, but I assure you they are saying the same thing. Circling back to Yoga Teacher vs Instructor question, I like Christina Raskin’s take and included it below. 

Enjoy – Kevin

Understanding the Distinction between Yoga Teacher and Instructor

headshot of Christina Raskin​ yoga teacher and instructor
Christina's take on Yoga Teacher vs Instructor

By Christina Raskin

When I teach the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program I often have a conversation around the difference between a yoga instructor and a yoga teacher.

I like to see myself as a yoga teacher, and I actually teach my students something. I educate them. And, I do this in the yoga teacher training program because I am educating students on what yoga is and how to teach it well.

Defining Yoga Teacher vs Instructor

However, I think it is important to differentiate between Yoga instructor vs Teacher when teaching a public class in a yoga studio. 

A Yoga instructor instructs people what to do, ‘exhale and step your right foot forward, inhale your arms up to the sky.’ You can go through an entire class with an instructor and not learn a single thing.

Educating vs. Yoga Instructing

On the other hand, a Yoga teacher educates you. One of my amazing teachers, Alexandria Crow, doesn’t call her class plan a sequence like most of us do. She comes to class with a lesson plan. I love that! She always goes into the yoga studio planning to teach her students something. By adding this educational element, you also give your students a mental workout.

Incorporating Yoga Anatomy and Body Awareness

Personally, I like to teach anatomy and how the body moves. It is really helpful to educate students on variations within their bodies and how to account for that in their yoga practice (like the carrying angle in the elbow joint). However, my heart really sings when I teach philosophy. 

I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to help others, I wanted to make a small difference in the world. Yoga philosophy has helped me so much that I want to share it with everyone. So I always try to teach a part of yoga philosophy in every class.

Blending the Yoga Teacher and Instructor

A yoga man at the head of a class-leading a Online Yoga Teacher Training. 200-Hour Yoga Certification E-RYT
A Yoga Teacher is an Instructor that Educates

Of course, when you attend my yoga classes, I will instruct you to an extent. But more so, I will try to teach you something new and invite you to explore your experience on the mat. So, when we have this conversation in YTT, I always encourage new teachers to remember this: Teach and educate your students, help them grow, and discover new things.

Overcoming Yoga Teacher Challenges

PS If you feel like you have nothing to teach or are stuck, I have a few thoughts for you.

  • To teach, you just need to know slightly more than someone else. You know more about anatomy and the yoga practice, so share that!
  • It doesn’t have to be a revolutionary new thought. The basics in the yoga sutras or Bhagavad Gita give us plenty to teach and explore on the mat.
  • If you are feeling uninspired, that means it is time for you to learn something new.
  • Get out of your head! You have something special and important to share. Believe in yourself and your knowledge.

Happy Teaching

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