New yoga teacher? Contemplating teacher training? The learning never stops! And what if you’re a bit on the introverted side of things (like myself)? In the first few months as a new teacher, there have been moments of frustration and self-doubt through to wonder and pure love. From navigating challenging comments from more experienced yoga teachers to the struggle to step off the mat, here is a little of what I’ve learned…
1. Own your teaching voice
Few teachers talk about the importance of voice during Yoga Teacher Training, and it’s probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you have those initial flurries of nervousness before teaching for the first time. Remembering the class content, how to cue effectively and trying to enjoy it were some of my top concerns. It was only when I started teaching that the importance of voice and language illuminated itself to me. For an introvert who’s quietly spoken, who struggles in front of groups, and has arguably never trusted the value and strength of her own voice, it became a big focus for me – I realized I needed to own it.
Making changes wasn’t about raising the volume and straining over music, or taking on some unknown persona, it’s been a process of building in projection, grounding myself physically (and in turn vocally), opening my upper body and creating eye contact, and generally impacting on my confidence levels in a positive way. I also take classes and do online videos with teachers who have exceptional levels of communication and use language in the most wonderful of ways. And I draw on exercises from theatre – having worked in it for a few years. The more my cues develop, the more substance feeds my words and the more effective silences are, the more my voice and teaching grows. And that, ultimately, best serves my students.
2. Step off your mat (even if it scares you!)
Just do it! In the beginning, it doesn’t matter how much or how little you step off that mat of yours. It may be simply to offer a couple of adjustments or assists. It may be to build up your verbal cueing as you move around the space with purpose. It might be that you practice this in one setting more than in another. The important thing is to challenge yourself, and to build up one bit at a time. I’ll admit, I find it damn scary, and sometimes feel I don’t have it in me, but I keep making that little bit of progress.
3. Value what you offer
Even as a new teacher you have something to offer. Everyone knows something and there are experts of all kinds (maybe you’re one). Whatever you might believe, or have been led to believe, you are different from all other teachers out there – because there is no other YOU. Don’t allow yourself to feel undervalued or to dwell in self-pity.
Yes, there are other teachers out there who will intentionally or unintentionally try to put new teachers down, but that’s a product of their own anxieties and rarely a true reflection of your capabilities. You have a purpose and you’re prerogative is to share that with your students. In fact, your students need you to value what you’re teaching so that they can receive the best possible practice to grow from. If you have a few aspects of your teaching that need work, put that work in, build up, improve, get stronger, but don’t tell yourself you’re not good enough.
4. Preparation: balance is key
Prepare, by all means, but try to avoid over preparing. Leave room for the magic to happen. By that I mean, have notes, stick drawings or whatever you’re used to, but keep it clear and concise with room for you to adapt to the students before you once you’re in the space.
I’m a wordy person (as you may have noticed), but I limit my plans, and more often than not, I will change a sequence or alter which poses I’m using during my class – for good reason. If it’s a small class in a fairly relaxed setting I will ask the students if there’s anything they’d like me to focus on and go from there. The most important thing is to keep learning yourself, and then the more balanced (and easier on yourself) that preparation will be.
5. Your students are human too
Remember this! You might have worries, you might be nervous, you might question your own worth… Well, guess what? The students in your class(es) are probably going through something similar, too. We’re all human, with our frailties, our hurts, our insecurities. Recognize the human in the whole of the space, that shared connection, the student in all of you – learn from your students, as they will from you, and make it your mission to serve them in the best possible way you can.
At the end of the day, I would not go back on this wonderful experience. It’s full of learning curves of the best kind and the challenges are to be relished along the way. To continued learning and beyond!
Anything you’ve learned as a new yoga teacher? Or questions about teaching if you’re thinking about it? Please do share down below!
Feature image via Bad Yogi community member Anne Wright