This year marks my second year as a yoga teacher, my fifth year as a yogi and only my twentieth year on this planet. I am so grateful that I was fortunate enough to “discover” yoga at the ripe age of 15, because like so many others yoga has changed my life dramatically and undoubtedly for the better. My yoga journey included local gym classes, a year-long Bikram yoga fling, Hatha, and then the 30-Day Yoga Challenge with Erin (aka Bad Yogi). After the 30 days were up, I set a goal to practice yoga every day for one year.
At the time I was sure I wouldn’t achieve this, but that year passed quickly and the daily yoga practice continued well beyond it. Yoga became my first true love. And so at the age of 18 I signed up for my 200-hour teacher training, which I then completed shortly after graduating from high school. After 20 very intensive days of training I was let loose on the yoga world.
Being the enthusiast that I am, I didn’t hesitate in applying for countless jobs and messaging all the studios I could find in the hope that I could secure my first teaching position. In the end I found a studio owned by two lovely ladies that I rented out three mornings per week to run my classes from. Without really realizing what I had done, I ended up 19 years old, new to the city and running my own small yoga business.
It was slow to begin with, I had to do my own marketing and find a way to get students into my classes, no mean feat when you have no business (or life) experience to speak of, you are a new to teaching and your only classes are very early in the morning. There were a few empty classes in the beginning, but over time I managed to build up a solid group of regular students. What was most surprising to me was the demographic I attracted…
My classes were mostly filled with people 20-40 years my senior and this challenged me in several ways. Firstly, I had to adapt my dynamic Vinyasa practice to a gentler Hatha-style with plenty of modifications. I also had to deal with my own insecurities about being younger than my students. At first I worried about what my students would think when I gave them corrections or offered them advice on their practice (wondering if they would dismiss me simply because I didn’t have enough of this coveted “life experience”). I avoided making jokes in class because I thought they might not share my sense of humor. I was anxious I would be unable to relate to my students because I am “young” and have always been flexible (while many of them were more mature and found some yoga poses more challenging than I did).
Fortunately, these worries gradually dissipated, largely thanks to my beautiful students who gave me such overwhelmingly positive feedback. Little by little I started to incorporate my own personality and youthful playfulness into my classes, and I found the more I did this the more people enjoyed my classes.
It was a big learning curve, but once again I was reminded that yoga doesn’t discriminate based on age, flexibility, body shape, or size. Yoga really is for everyone and age is just a mindset (clichéd but true). I know that I am not alone in being a young yoga teacher, there are plenty of others out there.
On a lighter note, here are some other side benefits of being a young yoga teacher:
1. You can wear (really bright and patterned) yoga pants to university.
You are definitely the “stand out” student in a cohort clad in grey, black and navy. Oh, and on that note you are definitely the sprightliest person at the 8 am lectures.
2. You have the best excuse for staying in on a Saturday night when you really don’t feel like going out.
“Oh, I would love to come clubbing but I am taking the early class tomorrow… Yeah, devastating, I know.”
3. You have a part-time job that you actually like.
This can make it hard to relate to your peers when they complain about their dreaded work.
4. You can justify new leggings as a “work-related expense.”
So what if you already have ten pairs, your uniform needs some variety.
5. It is pretty much the best job you can have on a dating profile.
Mention that you are a yoga instructor and watch the Tinder matches and terrible pick up lines come flying at you… Oh, the joys of dating!
In all seriousness, I love what I do and I hope that my romance with yoga will stand the test of time.