Sunday, July 20, 2014

Advice to New Yoga Teachers

Photo by Justin Kral of Kral Studios.

Lately I've been reflecting on what advice I'd give to new yoga teachers.

Again and again, I'm amazed at how much teaching yoga encourages me to be a more patient, loving, compassionate person. What a challenging and fulfilling practice it is to stand in front of others and share what you love!

Photo via Flickr.
Advice for New Yoga Teachers

1. When you get nervous before class (and you will), remember that being nervous is good – it means you care. :) Get grounded; start the class in child’s pose so you can take a moment for yourself. Breathe. Feel your feet on the floor. Say to yourself, “OK, I’m nervous. So what? I’m going to do this any way.”

2. See the students. Really, step back and SEE them. And then teach to who is in the room. Watch their bodies, not their faces. Their faces often look frustrated or annoyed or bored… but this is the look people have on their faces when they’re challenged by a pose. It has nothing to do with your teaching!

Photo via my lovely friend, Thais.
3. Teach out of adoration. Remember what this practice is really about. When you approach it with love for your students – for their happiness, peace, and well-being—it really shifts. It becomes less about you and more about sharing the gift of yoga with others.

4. Ask for feedback, but only when you are ready to receive it. Trust your intuition firs, knowing that your opinion of yourself matters most. I made the mistake at one point of asking for too much feedback, and found my head spinning, trying to take it all in. Now, I’m very conscious about who I ask for feedback, and when… I talk to the teachers whose opinion I value and who I know will support me in growing. I also keep coming back to this: I know myself best and I can trust in that.

Photo via my lovely friend, Thais.
5. If students leave the room, don’t take it personally. They've got something going on that they need to attend to; your job is to keep teaching the class.

6. Take a breath before taking on new teaching gigs. At first, I thought it would be awesome to get as many classes on my schedule as possible…whew, was I wrong! It’s easy to get burned out. Right now I teach one class a week and that is perfect. It gives me time to work my day job and have a social life, and still fit in my practice too.


7. Get to know a studio before you teach there. Do the owners support their teachers? Is there a community established? Will you feel comfortable and supported? How far from home/work is the studio? Being a new teacher is a vulnerable role to begin with, so choose teaching opportunities that are good for you… whatever that looks like.

8. Don’t sacrifice your practice in order to teach. Period.

9. Play around. Experiment. Teach a class with no music. See what feels good. Sometimes getting out of your comfort zone will spark something new and incredible.

10. Plan ahead. When you’re brand new, it helps to know what poses are in your sequence, what music you’re playing, how the heat in the room works, whether you’ll be wearing a mic, etc. Come prepared.

11. And then, once you have your feet under you, let it flow in the moment. Walk in without a rigid plan, and see what happens. You may enjoy the freedom and creativity that comes with being in the moment, and not being attached to a certain outcome. Notice who is in your class – beginners, advanced yogis, those with injury? Adjust accordingly, and enjoy the process!

12. Thank your students. Thank them while they’re resting in savasana (I like to do this silently, energetically). Feel what a blessing it is, sharing yoga, seeing how it brings peace.

13. Thank yourself. You are giving so much. Recognize that. I thank you, too!

14. Meditate. Get clear on your intention. Why do you teach yoga?

15. Show up. This is perhaps the best advice I can give. When you're excited to teach, show up. When you want to run in the other direction. show up anyway. Keep showing up.

15. As we used to say in my teacher training, it’s just a fucking yoga class! If you get overwhelmed, just remember this... it will at least help you smile :)

Love all you yogis and yoga teachers! I'd love to hear your advice for new teachers, if you have any. Please feel free to share below or, as always, email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com. <3

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