A yoga teacher is a person who conducts private or public yoga classes. Yoga is a spiritual and physical practice that involves breathing techniques and specific stretches intended to stimulate and strengthen the body and mind, so a yoga teacher must be well-trained and knowledgeable about the proper techniques of this practice. Some instructors choose to attend a yoga school that will train them for positions as teachers, while others may learn by job shadowing or otherwise apprenticing under a more experienced teacher. The primary responsibility of the teacher is to educate students on the proper techniques and principles behind yoga.
Sometimes a yoga teacher will teach classes at a yoga studio. Anyone can enroll in the classes, though most studios will ensure students enroll in classes of the proper ability level; this prevents a beginner from participating in an advanced class without the necessary skills to complete the yoga poses. Regardless of the class's ability level, the yoga teacher will be responsible for pacing the class, ensuring participants are doing the poses correctly, and encouraging the students to breathe properly throughout. The yoga teacher will also often offer encouragement and meditative guidance to help relax and focus the participants.
Several types of yoga exist, and each one will feature different poses, techniques, and focusing exercises. A yoga teacher may choose to study one type of yoga and teach it exclusively, or study the various types of yoga and teach each type. Study will be necessary in order to become proficient at each type of yoga, so most teachers will focus on only one or two disciplines. These methods can be learned simply by taking yoga classes, or the teacher may attend training sessions that can last a few days to several years.
It is not uncommon for a yoga teacher to offer private classes, or to work in a freelance capacity. This allows the instructor to work for a variety of yoga studios or for private students who prefer yoga lessons to be taught in less public settings. Private yoga sessions tend to cost more money, and while students will assemble at a yoga studio for public lessons, private lessons will sometimes require the teacher to travel to the student's home or another comfortable location. A teacher may work at more than one studio as well in order to get more exposure and better pay.