April 9, 2014

Dear Yoga Teachers, Please Stop Teaching Yoga! ~ Jacquelyn Rae


relephant reads:

>  Allow Yourself to Be Here. 

Yoga Teachers please, for the love of yoga, stop teaching!

We find yoga teachers everywhere nowadays. In a mere 200 hours, you too can be a yoga teacher. Perhaps that is what is wrong with yoga these days.

It’s not necessarily that anyone can be a yoga teacher that I find disturbing. What I find more troublesome is that after a short 200-hour course and armed with a certificate, we license “teachers” that all too often do not have the necessary tools to truly teach the science of yoga.

So to solve this problem, I ask the following of all yoga teachers:

Please, for goodness sakes, stop teaching yoga!

Don’t shut me down just yet. First, let me elaborate!

When I first began teaching yoga, I was very nervous in my classes.

Every day I would wonder:

Would my students like my class?

What if I didn’t know what to do next?

What if I didn’t know the answer to all of the questions?

What if I forgot the Sanskrit name of an Asana? OMG!

At that time I voiced my concerns to a friend, karma yogi, and my future training instructor. She gave me the best advice I could have as a new yoga teacher. She said,

“Don’t worry about teaching. Just share your practice.”

Yes! So simple!

That is what I have done and continue to do. It was almost five years ago that I was given that advice. It has made me a better teacher, though I cannot take any credit for my teachings because I am simply sharing my practice.

So how do you teach a great yoga class? Stop trying to teach at all!

Share your practice, not your ego.

When we focus on teaching, on imparting our knowledge to another, or educating another, we are in fact declaring that we are somehow superior to that person. That “I know more than you” attitude. That’s the ego.

Ego rules when we fall into the self-imposed role of teacher. Let it go.

Let yourself fall into the category of student right along with your class.

Share your practice!

When you let go of the role of teacher and begin to share your personal practice, everything will naturally fall into place. When you are genuine in your intention to not teach, your students will notice the difference. They will feel the difference in your attitude, in your voice, in your actions, in your intention.

Be genuine! It’s all about your intention.

When it is your intent to share, rather than to teach, a whole universe of possibilities opens up. When you let go of trying to have all of the answers, your ego will take a backseat, and you can truly be genuine with your students.

Students will always ask questions. It is okay to not have all the answers.

You’re a yoga teacher not a sage so stop trying to have all the answers. Stop trying to answer all the questions, and instead answer from a place of love and compassion even if it means simply saying, “I don’t know.”

As teachers we are our biggest students. When we simply share our own practice, we may have the answers for some questions, and for those we don’t, it gives the opportunity for growth and humility in our own practice. Your students will respect you more for it.

Share your practice!

When you share your practice your students will feel the difference in the poses. You do not have to worry about the flow, or the sequence of the postures, you already know how they feel when they flow. You know how to stay steady in the pose, you know already how it makes you feel. So stop trying to sell all of the textbook information about the pose and speak from a place of experience.

How does the pose make you feel? Share that!

Share your practice!

You’re not perfect, so share that. Share your imperfections.

Can’t touch your toes? Share that.

Can’t stand on your head? Share that.

Did it take you months, weeks, years to grasp a certain yoga posture, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercise)? Share that!

Share your imperfections. It will help your students to understand theirs. They will understand that practice takes patience and they will thank you for it.

Share your practice, don’t show your practice!

As a teacher, share your practice, but please do not practice with your students. Help them to understand your practice.

Watching you in your perfect pose is not helping them to understand what is happening in their body or mind.

Tell them where to be, give them your attention. Do not expect them to know what is happening in your mind, on your mat. You are the teacher and now is your time to “teach.” Use your words, demonstrate if need be, but do not do your practice with them. Don’t show them your practice. Share with them your practice.

Share your practice!

In order to share your practice, you must first have a practice.

This is so important for newly graduated students to know. Some will come out of their 200-hour YTT course with a solid practice to share. Some on the other hand will come out more confused than when they went in, unsure about how to set up a class and how to practice. Perhaps their teachers were just teaching rather than sharing their practice.

Before you can begin to share your practice, you must first have a practice.

So practice! Get to know how you feel in your practice. You will be a better yoga teacher once you understand and can share your own practice. When you are ready to teach, don’t teach! Simply share your practice.

When you simply stop teaching and start sharing, your classes have the ability to instantly transform. You will be viewed as a more confident yoga teacher by your students. You will create a space for personal growth in your students that neither you nor them knew was possible before. By simply sharing your own practice you let ego go by the wayside, and step into the space of giving. From that space of giving, all things are possible.

So share your practice!

Thank you to my wonderful Teachers. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your beautiful practice with me!


Confessions of Bad Yoga Teacher.



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Author: Jacquelyn Rae

Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas/ Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elidr/Flickr

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Jacquelyn Richard Sep 28, 2015 4:41pm

Hi Abigail! Great Photo! I didn't send it in, it was the editors who loved your pic!

Abigail Clarke Jan 27, 2015 11:46am

Several friends have shared this article with me, as I am the person in the image in ekapadarajakapotasana. While I do agree with much of what you are saying, I do not agree with the use of a professionally taken photo of a yoga teacher used as an example of showing off, nor do I appreciate being associated with this article without my permission nor credit for the work of the professional photographer who took the photo for me to use for my own marketing purposes. I have written to elephant journal asking the photo be removed, as it was used without my permission and is a photo I own.

UrsusCor Jan 26, 2015 10:08pm

Being the Guide leading from the side as opposed to the Sage on stage. Great article 🙂

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Jacquelyn Rae

Jacky Rae believes that Ayurveda and Yoga as therapy are pillars of transformation and personal growth. She’s a dedicated mother of two amazing boys, writer, blogger, world traveler & entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Yoga Veda Life, an International School that is dedicated to promoting conscious living by providing tools for life as taught in traditional hatha yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. Together with her partner, they offer certified Ayurveda Yoga Teacher Training Courses both Foundational (RYT 200) and Advanced (RYT 300/500) as well as a 100 hour Ayurvedic course by the San Diego College of Ayurveda. She also offers year round Panchakarma and Ayurvedic Detox, Sacred Breath and Wellness Retreat programs in Monte Vista Retreat Center on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand as well as in Yoga Veda Life’s B&B style retreat in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico on the beautiful Lake Chapala. Connect with Jacky Rae on Facebook and LinkedIn, check out her Blog, or Yoga Veda Institute.