6 Things That Made Me a Better Yoga Teacher & Person. ~ Steph Wall

Via Steph Wallon Nov 18, 2013

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

The most empowering thing I’ve ever done for myself was teach.

There are a few things I’ve learned since I began teaching two years ago that have helped me become a better teacher and person.

As with most things in yoga, the person I am in the studio extends far after the 75 minutes is over.

The parallels between who I am as a teacher and my dorky self outside of yoga, are staggering.

1. Drop the yoga voice

It seemed to me that all yoga teachers had this beautiful soothing voice. The semi-sexy tone as they drew out words like relaaaaax or inhaaale and exhhaaaaalleeeeeeee. I assumed people would much rather hear a softer, more relaxed voice as I sing-songed them through a sequence over my naturally excited, energetic squeak.

But I didn’t realize the disconnection I was creating between me and my students as I gave my best performance as a Yoga Instructor. As I made connections with my students, I started to drop the voice and used my own. I used my own vocabulary and spoke with my unsexy, high pitched voice, dropping the fake drawl and words I would never normally use and replaced them with more appropriate adjective such as “shit.”  I spoke naturally and thus connected my words more authentically.

It’s safe to yoga teacher sexy drawl, but it’s not real.

2. Stephy Story Time.

I take a few minutes at the start of class to share a story about myself and apply it to a theme of the class. Most stories are personal, such as how yoga let me love myself when I didn’t like who I was; some stories are just ridiculous anecdotes.

I like to break the barriers between teacher and student. I put myself in front of a room of listening ears and watching eyes and share who I am as a way to connect, build trust, and hopefully on some small level, inspire.

By speaking from experience, I no longer am just a teacher who spits out sequences. I am their friend.

3. My own home practice.

This is huge.

My own practice is where I get the most inspiration for sequencing. I shut off my mind, thoughts, rules and expectations and just move. I transition from asana to asana in a way that makes scene for my body and feels good. I skip out on all the usual poses that I know I’ll practice at the studio and instead play with all the fun stuff.

It’s form that space of playing that I bring something fresh and new to class.

4. Do not repeat what other teachers do. 

You will never be original if you do what others do. If I go to a class and the teacher does something I love, I’ll take it for own home practice, but I make sure not to repeat it in my class. Ever. I go home and think okay, what did I like so much about that sequence/pose/transition, and how can I make it my own?

By letting myself be inspired by what others do, it forces me to step up my game.

In the studio and in my life.

5. Make solid, genuine connections with other teachers. 

I can’t express enough how valuable it is to have other teachers in your life that you can connect with. They understand what happens in the studio and have probably felt the same things as you. Share ideas, stories, worries, inspirations and goals.

Let these people be your teacher too.

6. Be Vulnerable

If I were to rewind 15 years ago and someone were to tell me I would be speaking in front of a group of people about yoga, life, myself and then guide them on a journey to the depths of their being, I would have said “Get f***ed.”

But here I am, publicly speaking about everything that matters to me. I learned the value of being vulnerable. For 75 minutes, I have the opportunity to influence, impact and inspire. So I do. This is who I am, this is what I have to say and you can love it or hate it, either way I won’t mind.

In a room of 30, if 29 people think I’m an airy fairy yoga teacher who is talking out of her ass, but one person gets me…job done. I’m not here to have everyone like me, in fact what goes on in that room really has very little to do with me. I’m just here to expose the power of yoga.

And for that one person who gets me, I’ll risk looking like a hippy weirdo just for you.

The most empowering thing I’ve ever done for myself was teach.

The moment I allow myself to become an a typical yoga teacher, is the moment I give up that power.

The moment I don’t practice what I preach, or create a separation between who I am in the studio with who I am in life, is the moment I give up being the best person I can be.

And that would not be very yogi of me.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Assistant Ed: Judith Andersson / Ed: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

About Steph Wall

Steph Wall is a hardcore yogi bear from Kelowna, Canada. She is spreading all she knows about yoga so that she can provide others with the tools they need to be inspired and empowered. Visit her website or find her on and Facebook.

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