These days if you are lucky enough to secure a regular teaching position at a reputable yoga studio you have already done something right!
A few tips to ensure your long-term success and adoration from students and studio owners alike:
1. First, this article assumes that the yoga teacher in question fits the bill as a good teacher. For this, one must possess the following: a consistent, dedicated yoga practice, training and experience, charisma, humility and compassion for others.
2. Arrive early for your class to set up the room and greet students. Teaching yoga is about your relationship with the students. If you arrive just minutes before class, you miss the chance to connect with them and find out about any news in their lives, injuries or health issues they may be dealing with and so on. Doing the bare minimum required will not nurture teacher-student relationships. Show up early, greet the students and prepare the studio to be a comfortable, appealing space.
3. Tidy the room when you leave class for the next teacher. Reorganize props, refill candles, sweep if necessary. Pay it forward.
4. Take an interest in the students. Try to connect on some level with each student in the class, and sometimes that just means a smile, to let them know you see them. Learn their names and be there at the end of class to chat and answer questions. Factor this time into your teaching so that you aren’t rushing out the door to your next gig. This connection truly makes a difference to students.
5. Don’t leave class during savasana so you can go outside and check your iPhone to see if someone made an update on Facebook. When you leave the room, an energetic shift occurs and it’s not as relaxing for the students. Ask yourself: are you seriously too busy to spend the remaining five minutes with class? This important time is part of your teaching agreement.
6. Be a humble, caring, enthusiastic teacher. Don’t be a showboat. Students don’t want to hear you brag about your own abilities, they want to know how you can help them improve theirs. Be especially considerate to new students and aware that trying yoga for the first time is terrifying for many.
7. Volunteer when opportunities arise. Many studios host fundraisers or special events. Attend every now and then and show an interest in contributing to your community. If you are only in it for the paycheck this will stunt your future opportunities within the studio—regardless of how amazing of a teacher you are.
8. Pitch in. If you walk by a sink of dishes, take two minutes and do them! The sacredness of a space requires it to be clean and organized. With hundreds of students coming through daily, this is a big job to maintain. Staff, teachers, owners and students – everyone should be participating in the cleanliness and care of the space.
9. Advertise your classes with family and friends using social media and other resources. It’s in your best interest to try to increase class sizes because classes that cause financial strain to the studio are the first to be cut from the schedule.
10. Practice yoga at the studio where you teach.
11. Attend staff social gatherings within reason. We know you don’t want to spend all your personal time at “work functions,” but we think of ourselves as a family, so show us we matter to you.
12. Be kind and supportive to the studio owners. They often sacrifice a bit of their own yoga practice to take care of the studios’ needs. Overhead costs are much more than you can imagine, and the demands on a small business owner are relentless. Try not to resent your studio owner for making a living from the business; they hold a lot of financial risk, and they do a lot more work behind the scenes than you realize.
13. Appreciate your opportunities. With teacher trainings on every corner nowadays, there is an abundance of seemingly charismatic, capable, enthusiastic yoga teachers vying for your classes. Studio owners receive resumes from potential new teachers on a daily basis. It’s not to say you’re not special, because if you’ve already been hired it’s for a reason. But know that if you take your opportunities for granted they will quickly disappear.
14. Only sub out your classes if you are sick enough that you can’t practice yoga. Studio owners wish to keep teachers consistent in their time slots to deepen the student-teacher relationships; inconsistency of teachers may cause a drop in numbers. If you are regularly covering your class with subs, you will most likely lose your class.
15. Be considerate and friendly to your fellow yoga teachers rather than jealous and catty. Don’t talk about others behind their back.
16. Help when someone needs a sub, even if it’s not convenient for you. Of course you don’t always want to teach another class, but sometimes it’s important to help someone out of a pinch despite your own desires. Certainly the time will come one day when you need a last minute sub and isn’t it great when someone is there for you?
Dana Blonde and her husband Brent own Yoga Shala Calgary. She helps teach one of Canada’s largest Mysore programs and thinks YSC is a super magical place. She requests that all guests to her home state which of her dogs they prefer: Wheels the 3 legged hound or Hank, the chocolate brown lab. The answer reveals many things to Dana, who is awkwardly shy, inappropriately outspoken and feels like a jackass at least once a day. Dana should have fired herself long ago for breaking rules on the list above.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta