Teachers' Corner

Can Someone With Fear of Public Speaking Be a Yoga Teacher?

You’re standing in front of a crowd, all eyes on you. Then it kicks in. Your heart begins to race, hands start trembling, your head is suddenly like a furnace, and words are coming out of your mouth at about 200 mph. These are the telltale signs of a public speaking panic attack. I should know, it’s one of my biggest fears; I say one of because cockroaches are probably #1.

Despite this almost debilitating fear, about two years ago, I made the decision to get my yoga teaching certification. Let me just tell you, it’s been worth every single heart racing, hand trembling, head burning experience. Sounds crazy right! Why would someone willingly put themselves through this? After A LOT of contemplation, I realized my love and passion for yoga and it’s life-changing benefits was too great not to share.

Seeing the sparkle in a student’s eye the moment they can suddenly touch their toes or the peaceful smile on their faces at the end of our Namaste, those are the moments that make it all worth it. However, how do I control the panic attacks? Here are the tips that have helped me, they may not work for everyone but maybe it will help that one person that needs the extra push to become a teacher.

1. Demo more than you lecture. One of my fellow instructors caught me in the act once! She mentioned to me after class that I rarely stop to look up. I told her it was my way of coping with my fear. Believe or not, 75% of the time your students won’t know the difference because they are so focused in on their practice.

2. Stop at least once or twice during class to break down a pose or concept. I always make it a point to stop at the peak pose and really break it down into step-by-step process. I’ve learned that it’s easier to teach a lesson than to give a speech.

3. Keep it short and sweet. Break something down but keep it simple and to the point. The longer you have to feel those eyes staring at you, the more likely you are to have a freak out or panic attack.

4. Find the one-on-one assists moment. Students love those moments when they can have face-to-face interaction! I love those moments too and can manage one or two sets of eyes on me a lot better than I can twenty sets of eyes.

5. Acknowledge and accept that you will still have panic attacks and most of the time no one can even tell. It’s ok! As long as you are passionate and genuine, your loyal students will love you. My genuineness comes out as #BadYogi jokes and pop culture references during class. My students have learned to love that and know it’s my signature (the jokes, in turn, help me calm my nerves).

I hope this helps someone else that has been contemplating becoming a yoga teacher. It is possible and so worth it to be able to share that passion for yoga with others.

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  1. Amanda


    February 22, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Good points! Luckily, I got over my fear of public speaking before I became a yoga teacher! (I was a theatre major…that helped. 🙂 )

    I would say to be careful about doing too much demo and not enough words. Don’t let it be a hiding place. It’s good to have times for silence throughout the class, but it’s not the teacher’s yoga practice…and like it or not, the teacher should be keeping an eye on the students. The subtle details that help a student find a pose can’t always be seen in the glance they give you from their mats.

    Sometimes in the flow of things, my students will end up facing the back of the room, and I take a moment to say to them, “Don’t worry about turning around to watch, I’m going to walk you through this, so just listen.” The vast majority of the time, they do! All that to say, their eyes won’t be on you as much as you think, especially if you encourage them to use other senses.

    Like anything, it gets easier with time. HUGE congrats on becoming a teacher and facing that fear!

  2. Chelsea


    February 23, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Wait a minute…. did I write this intro paragraph?!? 😉 I could not relate to this more! I’m constantly on the fence about YTT (and largely because of my fear of public speaking). What great tips and encouragement! Loved this!

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