Teachers' Corner

4 Newbie Yoga Teacher Mistakes (that I totally made)

I’ve been teaching yoga for a little while, long enough to have recognized and worked on some of my nervous newbie habits. And long enough to start to recognize them in other new teachers. When I came out of teacher training, I had really only stood up and taught in front of my instructors and classmates. That felt really comfortable, and I always got pretty good feedback. As I got into teaching at gyms and studios, realized I had way more room to grow than I thought. Here are some of the things I cringe to remember myself doing in my first few months of teaching.

I didn’t introduce myself before class.

One of my pet peeves is when teachers don’t personally introduce themselves to everyone in a class, but my new-yoga-teacher nerves totally had me skipping this important step. This is the time to start building relationships with students, including hearing about their injuries and what they want to work on. Taking a moment to say hi helps you teach a better, safer class, and it projects your confidence to your students.

I was glued to the front of the room or I walked around aimlessly.

Two signs that a teacher is feeling a little nervous: they never leave their mat, or they’re doing laps. I was totally the former for months when I started teaching. My YTT drilled into me the importance of walking around the room so I can be more engaged with students and offer adjustments, but that sometimes also made me take off on a stroll without really thinking about what I was doing. Moving around the room is great, but do it with a purpose.

I did the entire flow with my class.

Doing your whole class is probably exhausting enough. Doing the class while talking everyone through it is going to leave you an out-of-breath mess (just me?). You might want to do a few warming-up poses at the beginning, but pretty quickly it’s time to take the focus off your own practice and onto your students’. If you pop into a pose, make sure it’s for a reason. Some people learn better by seeing something demonstrated, so it’s never bad to give that visual cue, but at least skip some of those vinyasas so you can look at your students and give them feedback.

I talked way too much.

OK, let’s be real. Half the time in a yoga class, I’m barely paying attention to every word the teacher is saying because I’m thinking hard about what my body is doing. I’m catching the gist and laughing at the jokes, but I don’t need cues for every body part, a history lesson, and a mantra for each pose we do. I’ve cut down on my nervous babble and now talk about half as much as I used to, and my classes feel a lot lighter and more relaxed.

Featured image from Bad Yogi community member Stephanie Scott!

Yoga teachers, are there any habits you’ve broken or tips you have for newbies? Share with us below!


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  1. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    June 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    I still see these in not-so-new teachers, especially the staying on the mat and doing the entire practice. It’s not the teacher’s time to do yoga….it’s for the students, and as the teacher it’s your job to demonstrate when necessary and then watch the students to make sure things are going well, and that no one is so out of alignment that they could get hurt. As a new teacher, it’s understandable: you’re still finding that balance (and getting over those nerves!). But it’s discouraging when I see a seasoned teacher do that…it tells me that something got lost during the YTT, and if something that basic was missing….what else is missing? Thanks for writing this! Really good points. 🙂

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      Alex Edwards

      June 29, 2017 at 9:57 pm

      Thanks, Amanda 🙂 When I first started going to yoga classes years ago, I feel like it was more common for teachers to do the entire class along with us (at least where I went to class). I don’t see it as much now, but it’s definitely still around. I guess for most of us who do YTT, doing yoga feels safe and calming and that might be what we need when we’re feeling nervous about getting up in front of a class, but it definitely isn’t ideal for the students!

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    March 3, 2018 at 7:56 am

    Yes, I have to admit, I’m still intimidated to consider teaching yoga, but I’m trying to just focus on where I’m at and work at small improvements. Namaste!

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