7 Things No One Tells You About Becoming A Yoga Teacher
It honestly feels as though the older I get, the quicker the years go by. I can’t believe it’s already mid-September! As the weather begins to cool, the leaves begin to fall and talk begins of Christmas plans (eek!), I realised it’s been a little while since I’ve popped up here! I know that I shouldn’t leave it so long and that people are reading this little space of the Internet, it’s been a whirlwind month and I’m only human….aka. need a lot of downtime, but I’m back! With something that’s been sitting with me for a few days now….
Many of us in the rat race/concrete jungle/shackled to the desk, have this dream about becoming a yoga teacher, switching up our life and making a positive change. Swanning from class to class, sipping matcha with our fellow yogis and yoginis and slowing our lives down a little. And that’s amazing! You enroll, you train and then suddenly, after many, many backbends, twists, inversions, beads of sweat, possibly tears, the study and the almighty final exam….you’ve graduated and are officially a qualified yoga teacher - Hooray! Congrats!
Since I graduated myself earlier this year, I’ve learnt more than I could ever imagine, in ways that I certainly did not expect! So to prepare you, if yoga teaching is something that’s piqued your interest, I’m sharing insights from both myself and my fellow yogis and yogini’s on what to expect next….
1. It will take a while to find your voice
When you first graduate, typically you’ll leave with a set sequence in the style of your teacher/s from training! Stick with this for a while so that you become confident with teaching and know at least one sequence off the top of your head. Over time, you’ll be able to add tweaks, flows, asanas and your own touch. But base this off what you love to teach and how you enjoy to practice!
There’s no one else out there quite like you, so don’t be afraid to own how you speak, explain and break down the poses. During my classes, I tend to use a lot of verbiage around asanas feeling ‘juicy, delicious or yum’ and this is purely because to me, that’s how they feel!
But be prepared…
2. Not everyone will like you
And that is so okay. I’m sure I’ve had students that absolutely can’t stand that I speak like that. Or think that my Aussie accent is annoying. Or hate my sequence. Or how I like to flow. That’s cool! You might even have a student or two walk out of your class. Some will not like you one bit and others will love you! You could be the juiciest, ripest peach - and there will always be someone that hates peaches! Even the most popular of teachers have people who just don’t like their style.
Keep in mind, for much of the class, you’ll notice that everyone will look like they want to stab you - it’s an interesting insight standing up the front of a class and seeing ‘concentration faces’!
One of the first classes I taught sure had a lot of these ‘I want to stab you’ looks. I was genuinely of the belief that everyone was hating my class and I couldn’t wait for it to end so I could scurry away and have a weep. But to my surprise, many of the students came up to me afterwards to tell me how much they loved it. Sometimes a simple, gentle reminder to smile during class always helps!
3. You will be rejected
My very first audition to teach at a yoga studio didn’t go quite as planned. In fact, the owners ended it 15 minutes in to my 60 minute audition. I was mortified! I had been called in to audition for reasons unbeknownst to me as I had only been teaching and qualified for a few months when this studio typically only accepted auditions and teachers who had been at it for two years at least!
Being a super last minute call in, I said yes (because I say yes to any opportunity!) but I didn’t have a lot of time to prepare or head to their own classes to get a feel for their style, so turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed ready to just give it my all regardless. Having practiced my sequence myself that morning, I felt confident!
But it soon became evident that my style was not right for that studio. I had some great feedback, but left feeling really deflated and lost a lot of confidence in my own style and my voice. Feeling as though the way I was trained and the way I taught was wrong.
After a little cry and a big green juice, I realised that rejection is just part of the gig. And that it’s bound to happen. Again, you can be the juiciest, ripest damn peach - and there’ll still be someone that hates peaches!
Finding a studio to teach at is as much as an audition for them as it is for you. You get to choose what studio fits your vibe too - so say yes to every audition, because the practice is amazing, but take feedback with a grain of salt! Remember, it doesn’t need to be their way or their highway.
In saying that, there have been studios welcoming new teachers with open arms and giving them a go. They’re out there, I promise.
4. The teaching community is incredible
For the most part. Yep, there’s the elite, the clique, the club, but you’ll also find that there’s a whole host of incredibly welcoming teachers who don’t subscribe to that bullshit. I’ve experienced both. Instagram followers and ‘reputation’ means bugger all when it comes to being a nice human. But you’ll find them, your tribe. Whether it be through your teacher training itself or just reaching out to a teacher you admire on Instagram….network to find your family. You’ll find yogis that are kind, generous, supportive, available and open and others…..that are not.
I reached out to someone who I admired on Instagram and struck up a conversation that turned into being welcomed into a group of yogis and yoginis around London who are the most amazingly supportive group. They’re out there. Don’t be put off by a few who are driven by money, fame or self-importance.
5. If you want to pay your bills….
Then you’ll need to be teaching private clients too. Unless you’re working a very, very full time schedule in studios, clients who pay in bulk 5-10 session packs will be your bread and butter. How to find private clients? Start teaching in studios, put the word out to friends and family, colleagues, on social media, the works.
Keep in mind also that your schedule, as you transition into a full time yogi, will be rather all over the place. You might teach a 6am, a 7.30am and a 9am and then not teach again until that evening. Weekends too.
6. The learning never ends
There will always be a new style, a new asana, a new option, modification or advancement. Your knowledge can only grow and grow and there’s endless books, texts and practices for you to dive into - chakras, ayurveda, Eastern philosophy, energy channels, breath work, yin, Nidra, pregnancy, anatomy, the list honestly goes on and on.
This can be both incredibly exciting and hideously overwhelming! But accepting that you don’t need to know it all to be an amazing teacher who owns their style and voice is a key step to overcoming the comparison that’s inevitable.
There will always be another teacher that knows more than you. Trust me on that. But don’t let that hold you back. Show up, commit to growing, commit to learning and know that right now, you’re enough. (And a freaking rad teacher!) You will always know more than someone else too - and chances are high, than the great majority of your students! So have confidence in that.
7. You will need to protect your own energy
As a yoga teacher, you often become a safe space for many students, particularly private clients. And they’ll open up to you vulnerably and authentically. This is obviously an honour! To be that trusted by someone - but you also need to be mindful of not taking on their energy. Protecting yourself and creating a white light barrier between yourself and the student so that you’re not dragging around their problems, worries, concerns, stressors and energy all day.
I like to use sage in the space to cleanse both the energy, myself and the student before and after class so that a fresh beginning is created for class and the rest of the day. But when I can’t do this, I just give myself 5 minutes and envision a white protective light around me. When in doubt, a physical ‘grab’ of their energy always works. I literally ‘grab’ onto that energy and throw it off me.
And on energy….be mindful of your own. You set the tone for the class. Maintain a safe, welcoming, inclusive space for all. Every one, every body, every level. You owe that to the world when you’ve been given the gift of becoming a teacher of this beautiful practice!
Before our final OM, remember, this journey is meant to be fun. You don’t need to be the best teacher in the world right now, just be the best you can be with the tools you’ve been given and commit to growing and evolving as you go. Know that you are enough right now and have faith in your abilities, your style and your voice. And practice goes a long way. On friends, family, anyone that will be in their yoga pants and on that mat!
Enjoy the journey, soak it up and Namaste.