You survived yoga school.
You learned all kinds of awesomeness about sequencing and alignment and breath language and so much more. And congrats, you have your weekends again! Now you are going to actually teach a class (or try to get on a schedule) and think, now what?
Here are a few of the cuff thoughts which have helped me build a strong following of amazing, dedicated students who I adore at the Yoga Tree studio in San Francisco:
1. Consider checking in with folks at the top of class about injuries and if they are open to receiving hands-on.
2. Move very mindfully when using hands-on assists, especially with folks you do not know. I had a teacher I came to know quite well who often got overly ambitious in his assists; I finally let him know outside of class, and he had no idea that he had been hurting me.
3. Play less wordy music. As much as I love some good vocals, I’ve noticed as a student at times it is difficult to understand a teacher who’s rocking the tunes, particularly early in class.
4. Play music you enjoy that reflects you, instead of what you think your students want to hear.
5. Teach a class you love instead of the class you think your students want. To this day, I sometimes try to impress a fellow teacher in the room or teach similar to a big name teacher when I am covering for them; I am realizing it just comes across as forced and hollow.
6. Have more presence in bigger classes, less in smaller classes.
7. Introduce yourself, smile, make a connection.
9. Offer child’s pose, Balasana, somewhere early in the class and let students know they can take it whenever. I love it when a teacher does this.
10. Notice when you are hiding behind the teacher’s mask, and see if you can stay present and beautifully you.
“Always be a first rate version of yourself and not a second rate version of someone else.”
11. Have fun.
12. Hold the “plan” for your class loosely. Periodically I will get really stuck on needing to get to a pose or teach exactly what I had in mind–inevitably when I do, I either get lost in my sequence or feel rather robotic as a teacher.
13. If the energy of the class is mellow, listen to that. If your students are newer, listen to that. Listen to your class.
14. Some students will resonate with you and your classes while others will not. As much as I sometimes want a student to like me, I know as a student I often walk away from a class knowing I simply do not resonate with a particular teacher.
15. Want to teach somewhere specific? Start taking classes at that studio, meeting teachers, and integrating into their community.
16. Find teachers who excite and inspire you and keep taking their classes – you will be grateful and so will your students.
18. To build your classes, the power of video cannot be underestimated – as of writing this piece, my very simple partner yoga video series has had about 300,000 views and receives over 12,000 views per month.
19. Show up.
20. Consistently teach at the same studio at the same time, be rested, leave your baggage at the door, be present with who’s present. Too many times have I tried to rock an arm balance and inversion heavy class, only to realize about halfway through class that my students probably would have been better served with some gentle flow and restorative poses.
21. Reflect you—if your week has been challenging, see if you can share that in a way that may include an area of growth that will inspire your students, rather than burdening them with it. I am so grateful to my teachers who allow me to periodically see that they are human, and struggle, and don’t have the perfect lives I often think they do.
“Pay attention to the cracks because that is where the light gets in.”
~ Leonard Cohen
22. Pimp out other teachers you love—sow good karma. PS. Love me some Pete G. Yoga!
23. You are a yoga teacher. You are not a physician, psychologist, physical therapist or anything else you are not. Even though I’m also a practicing psychotherapist, I choose to be nothing more or less than a yoga teacher when I share class; It allows me to take care of myself and create a clear relationship with my students.
24. Have referral numbers for other practitioners so you can connect your students with the support they might need.
25. Keep your internal vessel full by doing things you love, showing up for your practice and taking care of you.
26. Relying on yoga as your lone source of income can really shift your relationship with it–explore whether doing so is the best fit for you.
27. Teaching too many classes in a day or week will exhaust your internal vessel—let your yes be your yes, and your no be your no. I taught for a studio that often called or texted me to sub, and I allowed myself to get talked into too many classes at times that weren’t that good for me. Inevitably I felt burned out, and I know I didn’t show up for my students in the way I really wanted to.
28. Check into various opportunities to share your gift, be it kids yoga, corporate yoga, yoga privates, or any new adventure you decide to embark on.
29. Create a niche in yoga that you love and let people know about it. Yoga in Trees perhaps? The what doesn’t matter so much as you share what yoga inspires in you.
30. Don’t like music in your classes, chanting, reading yoga philosophy, or fill in the blank? Then don’t include it in your class. Your students will smell inauthenticity as they will also smell authenticity.
“As we let our own light shine, we consciously give other people permission to do the same.” ~ Marianne Jacobson
31. It is not your yoga class; it is your students’ yoga class.
32. Enjoy the ride! When you don’t, get off.
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Assistant Editor: Dana Pauzauskie/Ed: Bryonie Wise