Dear New Teacher,
The path of a new teacher is equally exciting and exhausting. Oftentimes people get so swept up by the teaching they lose sight of the yoga.
So how does one live the dream while also continuing to live their yoga?
Here are a few pieces of advice that may help. Many were handed down to me, most I fumbled my way through, and some I still work on myself.
Keep practicing. Our practice is the source of our teaching. Set aside a particular time every day. Opportunities will arise and it is tempting to push practice off. Don’t. When people do the inner work, their light naturally shines and abundance automatically flows.
Say yes to everything. Fifteen minutes prior to a class? Sure. Six a.m.? Absolutely. Forty-five minute drive? In a heartbeat and thank you! Say yes to all the opportunities that come and then as time goes on discern more. Who people become as teachers and where they end up teaching unfolds organically over time.
It is only up from here. We improve every time we teach. Although some days may feel “off” or not quite our best, the baseline is a little higher and our “worst” class is always better than the last.
It’s not you—it’s them. Try not to take things personally. There will be classes where everyone is seemingly scowling or your best jokes fall on deaf ears. Energy is fascinating and usually collective. It could be planetary, it could be the weather, but the causes are typically factors out of our control. And even when it is about us, like when we sub a class and students seem less than pleased, it is still not about us! That is people’s “stuff” being projected.
Go to therapy. Yoga teachers are not just teachers of asana or meditation. They can be part therapist and even part mom/dad/sister/brother/friend. A mentor or a therapist provide a container for us teachers to process our own feelings. They are also good examples of how to set clear boundaries.
Eat good food. Live somewhere nice. Read good books. A psychic in India once told me this and while the advice at first seemed banal, I now understand the profound importance of these three elements. Eating nourishing food fuels prana, our life source. A comfortable and quiet home is a sanctuary to recharge from days of giving. Reading good books helps to not only to learn and grow, but also unplug.
Never stop learning. Ever. Read. Study. Take workshops. Do some kind of training once a year. Go on retreats with inspirational teachers. Meditate.
Put our own oxygen mask on first. If we are depleted and overworked from teaching five classes a day, we are not doing anyone a service, least of all the students. Take care of yourself first. It is not selfish, it is essential.
We are there to be of service. If only one person shows up to class, that is still one person who’s day has just been made better. Building classes takes time and when we obsess about the numbers, we lose focus of why we are there in the first place, which is to help people.
This path will not always be an easy one. And in fact, I hope it isn’t. When things are challenging we are forced to do the work and really look at ourselves. This not only makes us better teachers, but also that much more grateful when we achieve success.
So good luck, have fun, and never forget that at the end of the day, we are getting paid to do what we love!
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard