#77: Yoga Instructor vs. Yoga Teacher

Apr 27, 2023 | Podcast, Yoga

Yoga is not just what happens on the mat in a gym, but yoga is meant to be a life journey.

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In this episode, learn:

  1. What a Yoga Instructor is
  2. What a Yoga Teacher is
  3. Why they are different
  4. How to know which one is right for you


Yoga in Today’s World

Yoga has become an increasingly popular form of not only intentional movement, but also self-discovery and transformation, and there’s no shortage of yoga classes or teachers to choose from. But have you ever wondered what the difference is between a yoga teacher and a yoga instructor? While they may seem like interchangeable terms, there are actually some important distinctions between the two.


What a Yoga Instructor Is vs. a Yoga Teacher

A yoga instructor is someone who may teach yoga in a gym or club, and their focus is often on the physical aspects of the practice such as alignment and postures. On the other hand, a yoga teacher is more concerned with guiding their students on a journey of self-discovery and understanding, starting with what happens on the mat.


Why They Are Different



Anyone can go out in front of a group of people and teach a yoga class or yoga moves, but a yoga teacher takes the work you do on the mat and helps you translate it into self-discovery. While an instructor is someone who gets you from point A to point B within a relatively short period of time, a teacher is concerned with your benefit in a broader sense and perhaps over a longer period of time. They may have a more holistic approach to the outcome rather than focusing on a specific number of steps to take to get to an end point.



Another important difference is in their training. A yoga teacher has likely gone through a higher level of training than an instructor, including yoga theory, philosophy and history, as well as anatomy and physiology. While there’s no specific certificate or licensure for yoga teachers, there are registering bodies that recognize teachers who have completed a certain number of hours of training. Continuing education is also important for yoga teachers, as it’s a lifelong journey.


Teaching Style

In terms of focus and teaching style, a great yoga teacher incorporates all aspects of the practice when teaching or working with a student, including yoga theory, spirituality, meditation, breathwork, and mindfulness. They also have a more individualized or personal approach to guiding a student according to their unique needs and intentions on that day, whereas an instructor may take a more standardized approach.


What About the Guru

It’s worth noting that there is also a difference between a yoga teacher and a guru. A guru is a type of spiritual teacher that often has a specific spiritual path they are taking a student down to achieve a higher state of consciousness or spiritual awakening. Traditionally in Eastern cultures, once a student begins following a guru, that is the path they take to learn from that one person to come into a higher state of consciousness. While a teacher can still have a close relationship with their student and know them well on a personal level, the energy behind the relationship is different. The teacher is a guide, and the expectation that the student learns only from them isn’t necessarily the case.


How to Know Which One Is Right For You

So if you’re looking to start practicing yoga, it’s important to get clear on what your intention is for seeking out a yoga practice or class. If you’re looking for a physical workout, a yoga instructor may be a good fit for you. But if you’re seeking a more holistic approach that incorporates all aspects of the practice, a yoga teacher may be a better fit. 



Remember, yoga is often one of the first elements that draws people in to beginning to understand and transform themselves. It’s important to know the difference between a yoga teacher and instructor to cultivate the self-discovery journey you want to take and how you intend to use the practice in your life. It may be that you only want to touch your toes, but a great yoga teacher knows that you think touching your toes is all you want to do, but in all actuality, nothing will change unless you start to do the deeper work to uncover and rediscover the parts of you that need healing and transformation.

Transformation happens with just taking the first step towards what’s 6 feet in front of you. For you


Disclosure:  Because I like connecting others with resources that I have used and found to work well in my life, I want to be completely transparent with you.  Some of the links within this post are affiliate links from Amazon; as an Amazon Associate I earn  from qualifying purchases at no additional cost to you. I only promote products that align with my values and with what I truly believe to work, not because of the commission I receive on them. So if you do decide to purchase something from one of these links, thank you!

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