Popular Teachers' Corner

28 Thoughts I Had When Teaching My First Yoga Class

My YTT had prepared me. I was being given my own class starting in just a week! I’d been wanting to teach yoga for years, and I was finally being given an opportunity to do just that! It was a Monday, and I was starting to psych myself up for my first class the following Sunday.

Until I was asked to sub a class and teach for the first time…in 6 hours. The following is a sampling of the stampede of thoughts that inhabited me before, during, and after that very sacred first teaching experience.

On the way to the studio

It’s fine. You’re fine. You got this. You know what you’re doing. You have a class written, playlist ready. You know the studio. You’re good.

Wait, what’s Sanskrit for “hello”?

Um, when have you ever known Sanskrit for “hello”? Get out of your head, Alyssa!

You got this.

Before class

Lights dim, candles on, mat down, let’s get some vibe up in here.

How… how do you turn these heaters on? They’re so high up… I’ve never had to turn these heaters on before. Oh no…

Okay, J said to call him if I had any questions about opening the studio. SO WHY ISN’T HE ANSWERING HIS PHONE?!

Oh, hm. Those switches right there, huh? Makes sense. Okay, let’s rock and roll.

NO I AM NOT NERVOUS J THANKS SO MUCH FOR ASKING. 

Just kidding I’m totally nervous now. Well, again.

During class

Here they come. Look alive.

My voice is confident, but I’m sweating through my shirt here. Good thing the lights are down low, they won’t notice.

Just make them close their eyes right away, there. Much better.

Is the music too loud? Better walk to the back of the room and check.

Oh good, this song is 3 times louder than the one before it and now I’m all the way on the other side of the room. NO RUNNING IN YOGA!

Did we do the right leg already? Or did we start on the left? I’ll just leave them in child’s pose while I figure it out.

Next time when you go to a demo a pose, make sure you have enough room to do the pose without crashing into the wall, genius. You’re SAYING “hinge forward,” so why wouldn’t you leave yourself room to HINGE FORWARD?

Smooth recovery. Totally looks like I meant to do that.

Okay, take ‘em down. Not in a threatening way. Weird word choice. Don’t giggle.

Savasana! We made it! Whew.

So… what do teachers normally do during savasana? Just sit here and watch them? That’s creepy.

It’s been like 2-3 minutes now, right? Hm, only 20 seconds. Wow, this is boring when you’re not in savasana.

UH OH. I never made a decision about om-ing. Am I going to om? Gametime decision!

Well I forgot to om so I guess that’s out.

After class

They’re smiling! That’s a good sign! They said thank you and no one stormed out or appears injured… success by any measure!

Okay let’s do it again.

Tell us about your first time in the comments! 😉 

[Free ebook] Stop worrying whether you’re doing a pose right, or if you are doing something that will eventually require a few trips to the emergency room. 🚑

Download our free yoga form guide — over 50 yoga poses broken down with pictures.



44 Comments

  1. Avatar

    kristen

    March 2, 2016 at 8:58 am

    oh this was fun to read 🙂 i always forget which leg i did first when i do yoga at home or lunges at the gym.. i always tell myself i should always start on right so i will never forget, but then i forget.

    congrats on being an awesome yoga teacher!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Thank you!
      We pretty much always start on the right side for a couple of reasons—and one of them is definitely so we don’t get confused! But sometimes I get fancy with sequences and it isn’t as clear which leg to move first and I trip myself up haha!

  2. Chelsea

    Chelsea

    March 2, 2016 at 9:04 am

    “Wait, what’s Sanskrit for ‘hello’? Um, when have you ever known Sanskrit for ‘hello’?” HAHAHA! So cute!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 2, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Seriously, the struggle…

  3. Avatar

    Janette

    March 2, 2016 at 10:57 am

    So awesome – thank you! I just took on my first 3 clients in a private session, first time EVER. I practiced and practiced what I was going to say and how and it flew out the door as soon as we sat on our mats. And I did hang out in child’s pose a few times while I figured myself out. My hands shook and I swear my face twitched – but they are coming back to see me on a regular basis! Such a huge step out of my comfort zone and I am excited!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:19 pm

      Seriously, it’s like when you go into the other room to get something and as soon as you walk in you completely forget what you were going in there for! But when you’re confident and comfortable as a teacher I feel like it gets easier to wing it and be effective even without your Plan A 🙂 So excited for you!!

  4. Jennifer Pollio

    Jennifer Pollio

    March 2, 2016 at 11:52 am

    I have been teaching for a year now and there are still times I have these thoughts. Not every class or every time but I definitely have moments where I forget a pose I did on the first side or stumble over my words (mainly in my 5:30 AM classes!). I usually take a deep breath and maybe even, smile, laugh, or make a joke about letting my “human” show. I know as a student I love when a teacher remains in the moment and isn’t afraid to admit that something is difficult. I think many students put their teachers on a pedestal but once you become a teacher you realize you will always be a student and will never have all of the answers, but you can do your best each time! It is nice to know, I will always be learning and growing in my role as a teacher. Thanks for sharing your thoughts- cracked me up!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:20 pm

      Totally agree! I’ve been at it for a few weeks now and I of course don’t TRY to mess up, but the other day I completely stumbled over my words…and shrugged it off! Because we’re all human, whether we’re teaching or practicing. And I agree, as a student I love to see my teachers as real people. They’re more accessible that way and more inviting, I find.
      Thanks so much, I’m glad you enjoyed! 😀

  5. Avatar

    Oya Blackburn

    March 2, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Hello everyone, I have just completed my Pilates instructor course. Although I feel so nervous to start teaching to a class.. Is there any technique to keep calm and confident for fhe fist time instructors ? Thank you 🙂

    1. Avatar

      Erin Motz

      March 3, 2016 at 5:07 am

      BE YOURSELF! Sounds cheesy, but it’s true. People will come back for YOUR unique style, so don’t waste time trying to be just like anyone else 😉

    2. Amanda

      Amanda

      March 3, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      I agree with Erin! 🙂 Plus, there’s no real way to get through that first class except to get through it. You’ll do fine. And don’t be afraid to tell your class it’s your first time! People are very understanding of that.

    3. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:21 pm

      Totally agree, just let your personality shine! It doesn’t get easier or less nerve-wracking until you do it more, so just keep at it and the calm confidence will come 🙂

    4. Nicky

      Nicky

      March 5, 2016 at 8:44 am

      Fake it ’til you make it 😉 x

  6. Avatar

    Carly

    March 2, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Loved this– so proud of you!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      Thank you! <3

  7. Avatar

    SMD @ Life According to Steph

    March 2, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    Hurrah for your first class! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    I can’t remember on my own which leg I did, I fear I’d totally have that hmm which one are we on doing a class.

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      We usually start on the right, but sometimes going into sequences in a weird way means starting on the left side and my brain just could NOT handle that on day one, hah!

  8. Avatar

    Elizabeth Ribar

    March 3, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Love!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:49 pm

      😀

  9. Amanda

    Amanda

    March 3, 2016 at 12:00 pm

    Ha! Yes, sit and watch during savasana, creepy or not! (I like to think of it as protective.) In super bad yogi style, when I first started teaching I would join them in savasana and once after a 6am class I fell asleep! The sound of my students getting up to leave woke me up. One of them said, “We figured you needed the rest.” 🙂

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 3, 2016 at 6:28 pm

      Protective, yes! I love that as a way to think of it 😉 OMG, that’s so funny! But so sweet of your students to let you snooze for a bit 😀

  10. Avatar

    Erich

    March 4, 2016 at 8:02 am

    I had the honor of attending the first classes of a lot of my fellow yogis that were in teacher training. I’m sure it was nerve-wracking for them, and your article just makes me appreciate what you all do even more. It was wonderful to see how they grew more confident as teachers, on and off the mat. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us! 🙂

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:48 pm

      Aw thanks! That’s the most fun part I think—seeing how each time in front of that room makes us all better, more confident, more capable teachers and yogis! 🙂

  11. Lisa Tauzin

    Lisa Tauzin

    March 4, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Love this!! Glad I’m not the only one … When I get nervous teaching I try to find some humor. .. I once said to my class, “So let’s place the block under our Occipital Ridge. And no, I don’t know the Sanskrit for that . I just said it to impress you. Did it work?”

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Hah! I love that. I like to crack a joke or at least laugh at myself early on in a class if there are a lot of new folks too. I think everyone likes to know that we’re all just here to do the best we can! Thanks for reading 🙂

  12. Avatar

    Katie

    March 5, 2016 at 7:47 am

    Oh my goodness! I was so nervous… I was terrible for the first few months of teaching. The studio owner started me out when I was only halfway through my training, I’m terrible at public speaking, and the bar at the studio was set very high. But I stuck with it and now it’s been over three years since that first class, but I still get nervous and screw up my words at least one s class… It’s part of my charm ?? thanks for sharing your experience!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Oh wow! Good for you for taking on the challenge when you were still going through training. I taught my first class with about 6 weeks of YTT left too, so I know the feeling! And I totally agree, stumbling over words can just be part of your yoga teacher personality 😉 Thanks for reading!

  13. Nicky

    Nicky

    March 5, 2016 at 8:46 am

    I still leave people in Child’s Pose whilst I figure out what I’m going to do next – especially if I’ve raced through what I prepared and now have to fill up the rest of the time!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      Sometimes I need to just have people’s heads down while I try to do mental math to figure out the timing, haha! We’re only human, right? 😉

  14. Avatar

    Wendy

    March 5, 2016 at 8:47 am

    Loved this! I can relate to every thought you had. After 4 years of teaching I still blow it on a regular basis, but to be able to laugh and learn from it is the gift of yoga!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Thank you! I totally agree, a few chuckles should be a part of any yoga class 😉

  15. Avatar

    samia

    March 5, 2016 at 10:07 am

    Haha awesome read! And it feels so familiair. I taught my first yoga class ever last week and felt exactly like this. It went well though, students were happy so I am hoping my nerves will slow down during my next class this week!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks! Congrats on your first class. Each time it gets easier, I promise!

  16. Avatar

    Jennifer De Feo

    March 5, 2016 at 11:29 am

    i think this is how my mind is working almost everytime i teach! my first class i got so excited in making a sequence, but then the group i was teaching could not perform half the poses (they were a mature crowd) i had to vito most of my class and just go with whatever popped into my head and out of my mouth! it was nerve-wracking but i made it through, and i only go better from there!
    when i began teaching for a studio it was the same, i was going to be subbing classes for my friend while she was away, so i went to take her class to see how she taught. well she asked me if i wanted to lead the class and she would practice so she could get a feel if i was the right teacher for the job! well i was terrified, i had no sequence mapped out for me and i had never taught in a studio setting before! (i was teaching for a non-profit organization in my community at the beginning of my yoga teaching career!) i was so nervous i could hardly think, but i made a quick sequence to follow 5 minutes before the class started and i jumped in with both feet!
    while i was up at the front of the class, all eyes on me, i began to panic and forget my thoughts, wondering what these people thought of me?! most people are so focused in class that their faces can look angry or not impressed sometimes, and this can be a scary thing for a new yoga teacher, or any yoga teacher for that matter. its part of being human that we want people to like us, enjoy our class, we want to be the best! and thats ok, we should always strive to be the best version of ourselves, but we also cannot control other peoples perceptions, beliefs or expectations. thats on them. so i always remind myself that i am doing my best and sharing my knowledge and practice authentically and those who are meant to share with me will come, and continue to support me, and the others are still looking for their teachers to connect with. thats ok!
    it is easy to get caught up in our ego telling us we are not good enough, but if we continue to practice and teach, our knowledge and compassion will break the egos words and this will bring us our confidence and our voice.
    keep teaching!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:55 pm

      Oh no, how scary to have to change everything your first time out! Good for you for rolling with the punches though—I’m sure no one in class realized what was up. I totally relate to that “resting yoga face” though. I still sometimes wonder if people are mad at me when they’re just obviously focused on the posture they’re in…at least I hope so! 😉
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I agree totally!

  17. Avatar

    Heather

    March 5, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    I love this! I have been practicing at home and I’m anxious to start why TT. However I have only been practicing yoga for six months total. When is too soon to start my yoga instructor training?

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      Thank you! I personally think you’re ready to start YTT when you feel like you want to go for YTT! Training doesn’t necessarily mean you have to jump right into teaching. Plenty of people go for YTT to deepen their practice, and that’s totally valid. You don’t have to be able to execute every pose perfectly before you get there. I would just say think about where you want your practice and your training to take you and let that be your guide 🙂

  18. Avatar

    Dawn Alexander

    March 7, 2016 at 10:15 pm

    Lol! Yes. I remember…one and a half years in to practicing…that’s it, no ytt, just her “#1”, I get asked to sub. I’m cool, I can create a flow, and lead, it’s all good. Omg! How do instructors fill up all the time??!! My monolog needs work. We got a bottom to top done, though. ?

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      Hahah! Well good for you for rising to the challenge! But yeah, the pros make it look so easy don’t they? And I swear, time moves at a different pace when you’re teaching than when you’re practicing.

  19. Avatar

    Kenzie

    March 8, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I absolutely loved reading this! I can only imagine the things that would rush through my mind if I ever gathered the nerve to try to teach a yoga class. Sounds like it turned out wonderfully ♥

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 1:59 pm

      Thank you! They let me keep my class, so I guess it must’ve turned out okay 😉

  20. Avatar

    Michael

    March 9, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    HAHAHA The NO RUNNING IN YOGA!!! cracked me up. You’re an ace teacher… I know!

    1. Alyssa Ammirato

      Alyssa Ammirato

      March 9, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      😀 <3

  21. Avatar

    Linda

    April 14, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    Great article and perfect for me to read tonite. Taught an extremely messy class, stumbled over words, messed up a sequence. And realized those are the things that make me more relate able , tho I don’t feel it in the moment! Been teaching yoga about 3+ years and I’ve only just begun to be in the place of not beating myself up over a messy class!

Leave a Reply