Five Tips for New Yoga Teachers.

Via Sean Conley
on Jul 17, 2012
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You just completed teacher training, now what?

You’re ready. You’ve taught to your friends, family, your neighbors, and even your pet chihuahua. Now you are heading out from safe waters. Your new adventure and next step might be a studio, a gym, or a  community center.

Have fun and use these tips and reminders to guide you.

1. Keep it Simple 

Use the KISS method. Keep it Simple for Students. As a new teacher, you will be most likely attracting students who are new to yoga as well. You do not need to wow them, knock their socks off, or hit a home run. Some teachers feel as if they have to throw the entire kitchen sink at them via creative sequencing, quotes and stories. The hope is that it may impress them or that it is needed for students to have a powerful yoga experience. But for students, less is more. People have enough on their plates to be bogged down and confused with complex instruction and poses, different language, overuse of yoga jargon, etc. Just showing up for students is an incredible accomplishment. They are already learning something new by just being in class.

2. Be Easy on Yourself

You will always teach one of the three following classes:

One. The one you plan to teach

Two. The one you actually teach

Three. The one you should have taught

Number three can stifle new teachers. I should have said this, I should have down this, etc. Some teachers will spend the entire ride home second guessing what they said and did. Learn from each class you taught and move on.

3. Use one student in the room to teach to the entire class.

Photo: Eva Lin

For new teachers, all the students in the room may be overwhelming. To stay present and connected, look at one student when you are teaching alignment and speak to “their body.” For example, say you are teaching Warrior 1, you would look at one persons feet and speak to the foundation of the pose. Not only does that individual person benefit, but the whole room does as well, because you are connecting physically and you are present. It lands powerfully for the whole class.

4. Have a Cheat Sheet Nearby

As a new teacher, you already have enough things on your plate, such as memorizing a sequence, alignment cues, timing, etc. Make it easy on yourself and have a notebook nearby with your sequence, reminders, or whatever you need. It’s okay if you freeze or get stuck. If you do freeze, put your students in Down Dog, grab your notebook and get back on track and regain your composure.

5. Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Like attracts like. You will most likely have students new to yoga if you are new teacher. Simply, do your best. It is amazing the stories that we hear from brand new teachers. We have heard countless stories where students have attended their first class from a brand new teacher, and that specific class had a profound impact on that new students life and hooked them on yoga. The practice is potent. Just getting people to move their bodies, to experience freedom, to clean their minds with deep breathing is super powerful.  Remember when we teach, we teach for them. Share yourself. Share your love of yoga.  Students will pick up on this and it will come back to you.

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Editor: Brianna Bemel

Photo: Eva Lin



About Sean Conley

Sean Conley, along with his wife Karen, founded the Amazing Yoga Studios in Pittsburgh, PA. They are co-authors of Amazing Yoga: A Practical Guide to Strength, Wellness, and Spirit. They lead Power Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Trainings in Mexico and Costa Rica. They have 4 kids who sometimes tag along with them to these amazing places. Sean bounced around in the NFL for 4 years. But after injuries and getting cut by a number of teams, he moved on and luckily stumbled into yoga. He believes yoga is an incredible way for all of us to practice healing ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And at the same time, we can help heal the planet. Yoga can change the way we think, eat, talk, and interact with others. Website: Facebook: SeanFacebook Twitter: @Sean_Conley_


12 Responses to “Five Tips for New Yoga Teachers.”

  1. judie611 says:

    Thanks Sean for a great article. I started teaching this past September so I could relate to your piece. Continuing to practice with my favorite teachers has been very helpful as well.

  2. Mamaste says:

    Just intro'd on FB to: Health & Wellness & Yoga.
    Great tips!

  3. Sarah says:

    Hannah did a great job at So Side Monday at noon!!

  4. Muks says:

    I am not a teacher, but I can see some misalignments in the pictures.

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  9. Jamie says:

    Great article, really important to keep your focus on simplicity. All my favorite teachers do! But I also think it's important to make sure you check out this article for some more advice, little less yogic, more practical tho –

  10. Ivette says:

    Love it! So needed this..I teach my first sub class this thursday, and I am already terrified! LOL

  11. Rogelio says:

    Great advice for any teacher. #3 I think really limits the teachers vision plus what if some one else is horribly aligned n could hurt themselves? I ur only watching one student u will miss the one that needs the most help.

    Also if u know there are brand new students place them where u can see them clearly. They may not like this cause they tend to hide in the back.