I never consciously set out to become a yoga teacher.
My life was so profoundly transformed by my dedicated Ashtanga practice that it became the focus of my life—my obsession.
When people witnessed my passion for the practice, they were inspired to learn as well, so they asked me to teach. I only got a teacher training certificate to satisfy the professional establishments who asked me to teach. I developed the basis of my experience through time on the mat.
What I notice today is that many aspiring teachers feel they can bypass that commitment to daily practice, and the in-depth self examination that accompanies that process, simply by completing a teacher training program.
While a teacher training certificate can help you develop skills, teach you information and boost confidence to get out there and teach, there are other important steps to keep in mind if you want to be a great teacher.
So if you earned your teacher training certificate, now what?
The most important thing you can do as a teacher is to practice. As yoga teachers, we work with the source of suffering, which is often what compels people to attend their first yoga class.
What is the source of suffering? It is struggle, or resistance to what is. When you can learn to accept whatever is happening in the present moment—and this requires being aware of what is happening in the present moment—then struggle vanishes.
Commit to a dedicated daily self-practice and stick with it. This is the foundation of authentic teaching.
2. Align with Your Inner Wisdom
Shift your mindset from “teaching postures” to “teaching people.” What are we teaching? How to relax into change. And the most effective way to do that is to learn to do it ourselves—to model it as teachers. The tools of yoga teach you to listen. Listening is a powerful skill that allows us to guide students—and our own lives—with wisdom and compassion.
3. Be Professional
When I was hiring teachers for the studio I ran in Hong Kong years ago, I had to turn away so many teachers, because they just could not get their act together. Get paperwork in order. Maintain appropriate boundaries with students. Show up on time. Be clear and fair about finances. Present, speak and reply in a professional manner. Attention to these simple details yields amazing advantages.
4. Listen to (and Teach from) Your Heart
Your unique style is the reason students will come to you and not someone else. Identify your gifts and talents and let them shine! That doesn’t mean creating your own brand of yoga—it means developing an adamantine relationship with your experience the present moment and learning to translate that wisdom.
Look outside the box to discover ways to share your teaching. And never stop being a student.
5. Put Yourself Out There
Full disclosure: this is a work in progress for me. They say that the work of writing a book starts once the book is written. Same with becoming a teacher. Find creative ways to spread your message, and accept that repeated rejection builds character. I’ve got tons of character. You increase your reach—and your marketability—by expanding your vision while maintaining your deep connection to practice. I think of it not as marketing, but as sharing valuable tools with people I love.
6. Nourish Relationships
Let the practice and the teaching situation connect you with people. Offer to do things for teachers you’d like to learn from. Build relationships with your students not because it will get you somewhere, but because you truly care about them.
I don’t need to tell you that yoga helps people tune in to their higher wisdom. Why is this so important right now? Because our planet is suffering the effects of ignorance and gorilla wisdom, and it is affecting all of us.
If more people practice yoga, more people’s lives will be transformed. If more people’s lives are transformed, our planet will be transformed. By helping people to elevate their awareness, you can help shift the consciousness of our planet.
When you truly experience the power of yoga and feel inspired to share this wisdom, then you can let the beautiful practice of yoga transform you into an agent of positive change in the world.
Be grateful for your good luck in finding the practice and please share it with us! Because the world needs you!
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Author: Kim Roberts
Editor: Emily Bartran
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