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.