1. You don’t like being looked at.
Sorry buddy. You’re the leader here. The captain of the ship, the general of the army. You’re the one that everyone is looking to for guidance. Get used to being seen, but better yet, get to like it.
People know when you’re dodging their gaze. People notice when you can’t hold eye contact in sukasana. It makes them uneasy and distrustful of the person that is driving the bus.
2. You want to practice with your students.
This is not your time to take class, this is your time to offer an experience. If you are doing poses with your class, you’re focused inward, on your body and your experience.
In most poses, your eyes physically can’t see the class (downward dog, forward fold) and that is a moment you lose in being a leader, preventing injury, or offering informed guidance.
3. You don’t know how to use your voice.
You’re too quiet or too loud. You talk too much or too little. You don’t know when to pause. You speak in a monotone. You giggle nervously. Your voice is your greatest tool as a teacher so learn to access it in a dynamic way.
4. Your language is vague or “yoga-y.”
What on earth does “ascend your heart inwardly mean?” How do I do that? Be clear.
“Bend your knee/Look at the ceiling/arch your upper back.” And if they still don’t understand, try and try again to become even clearer.
5. You only speak to one level of student.
You’re an ace at speaking to either to beginners. Or maybe you know how to rock a vinyasa class full of arm-balances and inversions. Either way, you risk leaving one section of the class behind.
Learn how to offer options so that everyone can participate fully.
6. You can’t respond to what’s happening in the moment.
Teaching yoga is like surfing. You’ve got a general idea of what is going to happen when you take your board out, but the ocean has the last word.
Things you don’t expect are going to happen. Laughter. No one will be able to do the arm-balance you planned. Your music will plotz. Learn to go with the flow and address surprises rather than ignore them.
7. You don’t start/end on time.
If I’ve managed to carve out (with a dull spoon, most likely) time in my schedule to find clean clothes and actually drive to the yoga class, please don’t make me wait to take it. And please don’t make me late for dinner afterwards.
8. You make announcements after class.
If you’ve avoided doing all of these other things, and you’re a great teacher, you’ve given your students a nice case of “yoga brain.”
They are calm, receptive, happy. Don’t start telling them about your beach retreat or your inversion workshop.
9. You rush into savasana, or rush savasana.
That was a great flow, sure, but my heart is still pounding and my pores are still pouring sweat. Please do a cooling down sequence so that I can enjoy my savasana.
And give me at least five to seven minutes. Any less feels like a tease, or like you forgot what time it was.
10. You make people partner up.
Unless someone came with their best friend, no one likes this. Not only is it a huge time-suck to have folks partner up, no one reeeeally wants to touch a sweaty stranger.
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Assist Ed: Dana Gornall/Ed: Sara Crolick