September 28, 2010

Becoming a Yoga Teacher.

While teaching and looking around the room, a yoga teacher sees the process of practice in many a practitioner.

We see the faces that “check out,” the faces that smile and drink in strength and grace, and we see faces that grimace and look as though vira 2 were the meanest possible punishment for a crime they did not commit.

Perhaps the greatest gift we have in serving as yoga teachers is to see this space of expression as we meet students on the best—and worst—days of their lives. We are with them in the rising and the falling of not just the body and the breath, but the emotional context of self. We are with our students at the radical shifts of choice and life-altering decisions in one direction or another.

These are the moments where we surmise the effect our passion for yoga has in the light of another’s passion. We see ourselves light the fires of inspiration of others. This reflects back. We, as teachers, are fed by the experiences we serve.

A life as a yoga teacher may not be considered as stable or traditional as that of a doctor or lawyer ; as it is certainly a path less traveled.  However, looking across the richness of careers I have explored, teaching yoga has been the toughest job I have ever loved.

A yoga teacher shares her or himself as a public speaker, offering what is in her or his heart and mind out the mouth.  We weave the technical with the spiritual and if that does not help one sort out and unpack a lifetime, I don’t really know what could.  As we prepare and teach, we experience in our own context and in the reflections of our offerings the reflections in others.

I am asked all the time, “Do you think the market of yoga teachers is saturated?”

My answer is always the same, “Never.”

There is enough.  There has always been enough and there will always be enough.  It is strongly asserted that our universe is getting bigger, not smaller.  More people are coming to a yoga practice as a means of engaging wellness rather than dealing with symptoms of illness later.  Further, we are living in a time of global economic shift and the previous ways of doing business are falling short, so those considering a new life providing a service of wellness and health, a path of teaching should not fear the reality of thriving as a yoga teacher as a real option for career development.  One simply needs to get really about leveling the tricks of the trade.

The first trick is to establish a niche and dive deep into the aspects of what makes on artist’s art different from another.  There is enough.  Even if everyone in Boulder, my hometown, were to become a yoga teacher…if we each explored the uniqueness of our hearts and honored completely our own sense of self-expression, we would each attract a different type of new student. We can carve ourselves through our creative interests and realize that our differences as teachers are the exact aspects that are actively expanding the reach of yoga into demographics previously non-yoga-fied!

The second trick is to realize that one teacher training does not a teacher make.  One certificate does not grant confidence.  The ocean of options that makes contemporary yoga so rich and fascinating is worthy of a lifetime of study and practice; therefore, a teacher, particularly a new teacher must actively pursue the waves in that ocean and surf ever expanding spaces of knowledge.

Young teachers often tell me that continuing education is expensive; I respond, “the more you engage, the more you will receive.”  Invest in yourself and the company you seek to serve will invest in you. It may take some time; however, so would a degree in Law.

Coming to your mat and serving those who show up to their mat may just be the best decision you could ever make. Plus, it is a bit more fun than a dissertation!

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Shannon Paige Schneider  |  Contribution: 900