Happy Monday Tribe!
I've been anxiously waiting to share this post with you, but I wanted to wait until I had 6 months of experience teaching yoga before I did! Also, has it already been 6 months?! Time flies without you even realizing it!
I am going to start by saying that I honestly never thought I would be a yoga teacher. I'm an introvert and far from a public speaker. In fact, public speaking terrifies me to a point where I become nauseous and clammy. Given this, you may be wondering why I decided to enroll in a teacher training program. I actually did it to deepen my practice and knowledge of yoga without any intentions of teaching. As I dove deeper into my teacher training, I felt a calling to teach and share the practice of yoga with others.
So here I am, sharing with you, the 5 most important things that I learned during my first 6 months as a yoga teacher. All of the classes, including the ones that were more challenging, have helped me grow into the teacher I am today and will continue to help me become the teacher I aspire to be. By no means am I a pro at this whole yoga teacher thing and all of these experiences are mine personally, but I hope that you too can learn from my experiences.
1. You will make mistakes and you will learn from them.
Everyone makes a mistake, even your guru who has been teaching yoga for decades. And it's totally okay. Whether it’s mixing up your left and rights (ugh, I do this all the time), forgetting the sequence, or giving a confusing cue, it's part of the learning experience. I will also let you in a little secret...most of the time the students hardly notice! Just play it cool and fix it if you can. If not, brush it off and move on! There have been classes where I walk out smiling and think "Wow, that class was amazing. I got this!" and there have been classes where I walk out and think "Damn, I completely bombed that class." But, I've learned from both the good experiences and the bad.
2. Be authentic, confident, and compassionate.
It's important to be authentic and stay true to yourself. Don't try to mimic your favorite teacher. If you're too busy pretending to be something you're not, you will lose confidence. Without confidence, you will not be able to hold the room. Trust me.
It is also important to be compassionate as a yoga teacher and to understand that it's not about you, it's about the student. It is likely you won’t always know the levels of the students, their backgrounds in yoga, or their physical abilities. You also don't know their emotional state or what brought them to their mat. But, what you do know is yoga. You know how to do it, and more importantly, you know why you do it.
It’s important to exude authenticity, confidence, and compassion so that your students trust that this is exactly where they should be.
3. Once a teacher, always a student.
The best way to keep learning is to keep practicing! You fell in love with the practice of yoga and that's why you became a teacher, so don't stop being a student. Whether you have to get up at the crack of dawn to catch a class, practice with a You-Tube video, or flow to your own sequence, keeping up with your practice is crucial.
I am a big believer in teaching only what you know. I truly believe that you cannot properly teach something unless you've personally experienced how it feels. One of the biggest pieces of advice that my teacher shared during teacher training was, "do not teach what you cannot do." So my advice to you, is keep trying until you've finally learned it enough to share with others!
4. Don't take it personally.
Students will come and go. I've had students that came to every class I taught on a regular basis and then suddenly they disappeared. At first, I took it very personally but then I realized sometimes peoples energies just don't mesh well together. It's not that one or the other is bad, its just they aren't serving each other. Don't worry, over time you will start to build a tribe and others will still continue to come and go.
5. It will take time to find the right studio for you.
Don't count on landing a teaching job at your dream studio. Yoga is a huge industry and there are thousands of well-qualified teachers. Competition is high, especially in larger cities, and studios are looking to hire the best. Don't worry though, there are plenty of awesome entry level teaching gigs out there. I recommend teaching community classes, yoga in the park, or finding a small local studio. Also, get on the sub lists and be patient. Gain experience, work hard, and you'll be teaching at your dream studio in no time!
These first 6 months teaching have by no means been easy (I definitely have my fair share of horror stories), but I love teaching yoga and cannot wait to continue to spread the yoga love. I hope that my experiences help you along your journey, whether you're already teaching or looking to become a yoga teacher. And as always, I want to hear your experiences! Please share them with me in the comment section!