Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Finding Your Voice As a Yoga Teacher (Plus, A Giveaway!)

Photos courtesy of Caren.

This has been a big week in my yoga teaching journey… I taught five classes! Two of them were at my beloved home studio, and it feels amazing to be able to share yoga with the community I love so much. I’m learning to be more open, more vulnerable, more present with my students, again and again offering up the practice. I’m also finding new cues, exploring what words are effective for getting yogis in and out of the postures. Teaching is an incredible journey.

Today I have a lovely guest post from yoga teacher and writer Caren Baginski. She offers her inspiring story about how she found her true voice as a teacher.


Finding Your Voice as a Teacher
By Caren Baginski

Finding Your Voice (A Post for Yoga Teachers)

I'll never forget my first yoga class as an official, paid instructor. I meticulously wrote down my sequence, showed up early at the recreation center, unrolled my mat and waited. Waited for anyone to join me, while secretly hoping no one would.

The butterflies I felt that day lasted a whole year while I discovered my voice as a new yoga teacher. The students were patient and new to yoga themselves, which helped when I flubbed a cue or accidentally had them flowing through the same side, twice. Apologies were always met with kindness.

As cueing became second nature, I started to worry about the Dharma message — that epic "Why are we here on the mat" opus I felt compelled to deliver each class. With so much to say and so many ways to say it, my message frequently got lost somewhere between Child's Pose and Savasana.

The difference between my teaching then and four years later is that I started to think like a storyteller… and I started to tell my own story.



Discovering your voice as a yoga instructor is a lifelong metamorphosis. One that begins when you realize you don't have to teach like anyone else, and instead can teach like YOU.

Here are three things I recommend to speed up that process.

1. Find the theme in the poses.

When I started teaching how each yoga pose makes one feel, in addition to the physiological benefits, my teaching took on a new tone. Many of us practice yoga specifically because of how it makes us feel, so allow your students to savor feeling more than doing. This naturally creates space for talking less (hooray!) and more adjusting.

2. Narrow your focus.

There are endless topics and themes to explore in yoga class, and it's hard to choose just one. However: Choose just one. Really! And then get specific.

If you go too broad, "It's spring! Time to open our hearts," your class won't be as memorable as, "It's spring! Let's cleanse our heart chakras by easing into Wheel Pose." Plus, the more specific you get, the more you discover what makes you light up as a teacher. That leads to...

3. Give yourself permission to be you.

Teaching yoga can be as vulnerable as taking a class. You never know what backstory each student might bring to the mat or what every student needs that day, and that's okay. The more you show up as yourself, the more you'll authentically be able to assist others.

Do you like to crack jokes? Chant? Take yoga photos with your dog? Is your style slower or faster than other teachers? Within the class framework you're given, inject your personality (minus the dog). You'll find your tribe once you start showing up as yourself.

GIVEAWAY: Want to journey into your authentic self? Caren is giving away one free spot to her 30-day digital yoga and meditation program, You Again Yoga, to a lucky Alive in the Fire reader!

This program will benefit anyone who feels disconnected from themselves, whether through stress, depression, anxiety or just a case of the blahs. To enter, like Happy Momentum on Facebook and leave a comment here about what you’re hoping to gain from the yoga and meditation program. A winner will be chosen on May 3rd. Update: deadline extended! Giveaway open until May 15th.

Caren Baginski is a writer, yoga instructor and creator of You Again Yoga who overcame depression through her practice. She takes yoga photos with her dog (seriously!) and writes weekly on her website Happy Momentum. She lives in Denver, CO. 

15 comments:

  1. I have recently begun making yoga a weekly practice in my life. I do it because I know when I'm finished with my practice that day I will feel lighter, more present and more at peace with myself. I don't know much about the different poses and how they are connected to the energy and the chakras in your body so I hope to gain more awareness and intention when I'm doing yoga. It would be nice to be able to turn to a specific pose when I am feeling a certain way and know that it is designed to address that feeling or open up that part of the body. Sometimes a 50-minute practice seems like it's too long to fit into my day and I'm hoping to get a practice that I can condense and personalize every day from the You Again Yoga. I usually think of meditation as what I do during corpse pose, so I look forward to looking at yoga and meditation as one and being more productive with my time.

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    1. Colleen, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. What cute photos and great advice to new teachers. I am a teacher myself, but also someone who deals with bouts of depression and anxiety (family trait). However, with yoga I find that it helps lessen the length and the severity. I would love to join in the 30 day program to learn more tools and tips to help maintain a healthy mindset and practices to help heal.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

      Delete
  3. I have been teaching yoga for about a year now and the more I teach and practice yoga, the more I learn that yoga is an ongoing journey with a great deal to learn and discover about not only this ancient art but also about myself. I really enjoy posts from you, Karen, and so many others that help me improve. I know that the 30 day program would help not only me but many others as it carried over to my students in yoga class and likely anyone I rub shoulders with in my daily living.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

      Delete
  4. I'm working on addiction in my life right now. Just turned 50 and really don't want to keep going down this path. I believe meditation and yoga is the path for me and also hopefully to inspire others! I teach dance and they look to me not only for the dance but also other life lessons, as I do with them. Thank you for all that you do! Cheers! :0)

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  5. Ooh, how exciting! I'd be thrilled to participate in the Yoga Again Yoga program. What I hope to gain is consistency and discipline in my home practice. Thanks! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

      Delete
  6. I love yoga, and having experienced how much it has improved my depression, I want to do it every day. However, I find that repeating the same 30-minute routine every day to be HORRIBLY boring... I'd love some guided help through a 30-day program that helps me create a new habit, with some variety thrown in!
    I'd LOVE to win You Again Yoga. Thanks :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

      Delete
  7. I am so glad the deadline has been extended so I didn't miss out on entering for this! I started doing yoga just recently to try to heal the pain of losing my dad suddenly to cancer. It was devastating and also an eye opener to the fact that you just never know what the future will hold. I have embraced the physical and also mental comfort that yoga has brought to my life. I am looking forward to making yoga and meditation a permanent part of my journey. I would love the opportunity to learn and grow more :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

      Delete
  8. Hi ALL PARTICIPANTS in this giveaway, please send me an email at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com so I have your contact info. The original winner who was chosen has not responded so we are going to be selecting someone new. You can only be entered if I have an email from you - Thanks!

    ReplyDelete