14 September 2017
Rumour has it Melbourne has more Yoga studios and teachers than any other city in the world. Competition can be tough and getting a start as a Yoga teacher can be daunting. It looked so easy when you were ‘just’ a student right!
As I write this I’ve currently taken time out from teaching as my ‘day job’ has taken off so to speak, and any time I’m not at work I need to spend with my children who are still so young and growing up fast. As Quentin Bryce said, “You can have it all, but not all at once.”
If I could go back in time to those first few months as a new teacher, this is what I’d tell myself. When I return to teaching, which I hope I will one day, I may just pause to reflect on these words too.
The established Yoga studios with some of the most sought after teachers will want you to get some experience under your belt before taking you on board. But new studios and gyms may be more accommodating of new teachers.
Teaching one class per week at the beginning will take all week to prepare, particularly if you’re juggling another job and other responsibilities on top of teaching. A new sequence, playlist, philosophy, theming and cues to coordinate and memorise is time consuming and not something that can be rushed.
In order to practice, grow and become confident getting your words out, I found teaching three classes a week as a new teacher was ideal. This was on top of full time work and parenting three young children. Any less and I felt out of practice, any more and I felt overwhelmed.
Keep it simple
There’s no need to overcomplicate the sequence. For Vinyasa and Slow Flow classes, I recommend teaching the same flow sequence in the beginning and adding to it week by week. The start and end of your classes can change completely week by week. Stick to what you’re confident at teaching to avoid confusing yourself and your students.
We all make mistakes
If you make a mistake, apologise, laugh it off then move on. It shows you’re human and imperfect as well. Your students usually won’t notice anyway.
Get out of your own way
After I’d been teaching for about six months I suddenly had a confidence crisis where I felt I didn’t belong and I’d never amount to anything as a teacher. Everyone starts off somewhere. If you love what you do stick with it. Accept the first six months will be a steep learning curve and avoid comparing your beginning to someone else’s middle.
Don’t get hung-up on the good or bad
Sometimes you”ll receive some great feedback from students, other times barely a thank you. One of my teachers gave me some great advice not to get hung up on the good or the bad classes, as well as the good, bad or lack of feedback. If you positively affect one student in your class, then you’ve done a great job. Not everyone is going to like you as a person, let alone a teacher. Chronic people pleasers take note.
Present well, provide great customer service to your students, invoice on time, be early to your classes, respond to communication from your manager promptly and provide plenty of notice for covers required. If you’re working for a small business, you’re dealing with someone’s livelihood so be respectful and professional.
Continue to learn
Immerse yourself in Yoga as a way of life by continuing to learn and share what you learn with your students. Attend workshops, read books, take courses in person and online, follow people on social media, listen to podcasts and connect with other Yoga teachers. There is a wealth of information available to us and a lot at no cost.
Connect with your students. Make them feel special. Let the know you are grateful for the opportunity to teach them. Check in with any injuries to protect them and yourself. You may find the connection exhausting at the start, but as with many care-related professions you will learn how to care but not become drained by it.
Put yourself out there
We live in an online world. While it’s not essential, a great social media profile or following could be the edge that gets your foot in the door for a teaching gig. It took me a long time to embrace my public profile on social media because I’m not comfortable being the centre of attention. Then I realised it didn’t have to be all about me. It’s about finding your niche – maybe you’re talented at drawing mandalas, a great cook, a beautiful writer or have a skill for contextualising ancient yoga philosophies.
You are privileged
It is an absolute privilege to teach Yoga. Your students’ physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing is in your hands so treat your craft like it is sacred. Aim to be your best every class. Get out of your way and believe you’ve got what it takes.
If you have any experiences to share or tips for new teachers, please comment below. We’d love to hear.