TIPS FOR NEW YOGA TEACHERS
Hi my lovely friends 🙂 Today’s post is dedicated to my new yoga teachers! As I prepare to embark on my third yoga teacher training (I’m headed to Bali for a month at the end of this week!!!) I’ve been reflecting on my first and second trainings, my struggles with deciding to teach, as well as my personal process of becoming a yoga teacher. At the very beginning of my journey I didn’t feel like I had a resource for support and guidance (they came much later for me!) so I am hoping to be that for you! Before I get into my tips for new yoga teachers I want to share a little more about my teaching journey and share some of the things I was feeling + experiencing – I’m curious if you can relate (if you indeed can then please leave me a comment below!)
Shortly after taking my first yoga class at Bryan Kests Power Yoga in Santa Monica, CA (I will never forget that first class, I still remember everything so vividly!) yoga quickly became my safe haven. The more I practiced the more shifts I experienced; and the more shifts I experienced the more intrigued I became by the practice entirely. I actually never had a desire to teach yoga..weird right?! I found yoga (or maybe it found me), it changed my life, and I simply wanted to know the interworking of the practice to better understand how it was changing me and everything else in between. I had a growing hunger for more knowledge, and deepening my practice was my only goal with both teacher trainings I completed.
During both of my teacher trainings I worked full time, so while I did get a lot out of them I felt like I couldn’t fully focus.. I also wasn’t going in with the intention to teach so I definitely didn’t approach them the way I will my upcoming training. I would tell people I was doing YTT and they would ask me when I was going to start teaching and I’d laugh and sharply reply “uhh never, I don’t want to teach, I just want to deepen my practice”… and at first that was true. I really didn’t think I wanted to teach.. and then somewhere along the way acting and music became incredibly unfulfilling… and it was only then that I started to think about what else I could do… teaching yoga did come up but honestly I respected the practice and lineage so much, and coveted it for what it had done for me that I was scared to butcher it, not relay it right, or simply just not be “good at it”…. so I put the idea of teaching in a box and tucked it away.
It was bizarre to even myself that I could get up in front of anyone and everyone to entertain, sing, tell jokes or act; but ask me to teach yoga to any one other than my invisible student in my living room and I was hiding out in the corner sweating and fearful. For some reason teaching really yoga scared me. I think I loved it so much that I was worried I would ruin it.. does that make sense? I didn’t feel worthy to share it. Even with 2 yoga teacher trainings under my belt (which is 2x the required amount that most studios ask for) I still didn’t feel “ready”.. does any of this resonate with you?
After starting my blog Namastshay and getting asked daily why I wasn’t teaching yoga I finally started to consider it. But if I am going to be honest it was something on my to do list that sat there for a very long time. I kept putting it off. After some more time (and once all of my excuses became reeeeeal tired and overused) I got honest with myself: I wasn’t not teaching because I didn’t want to.. I wasn’t teaching because I was scared AF! I finally decided I’d ask my yoga teacher friends for support (I have always been that girl to make friends with my teachers, baristas, mailman etc haha) My friend and teacher at the time Ashley Platz tried about 100 times to convince me that I was totally capable of teaching but I continued to feed my self doubt and fear; my line at this point (and I remember it so well) was “I really want to teach but I’m not ready yet” she was like Ok, you’re going to assist me then. So for a few weeks or maybe a month I would assist her in her classes; I didn’t say one word other than an awkward hello when she would introduce me to her class but I would help her give adjustments, observe her teach and listen to her cues. I am so grateful she allowed me to do that, that was amazing right?? I continued to assist her until I got a retail job at Alo Yoga and had a much busier schedule… and poof! I had another excuse why I couldn’t teach.. I was avoiding teaching SO HARD but like why?? I love yoga! I love helping! I love guiding! My next rendezvous with teaching came when I began going to PLAYLIST. yoga. I reached out to Jordan, the owner and asked to get on the schedule- he was so amazing and willing to give me a chance but as soon as he gave me the green light I somehow again I let fear take over… “oh you’ll let me teach? Actually I’m not ready” LOL OMG I cannot with myself sometimes…. So my friend and teacher Nicole Sciacca whom is the CYO at Playlist. yoga worked with me each week, letting me teach her, talking about adjustments, words, cues, sequencing, timing etc. but still… I was nervous and doubtful… I remember the day she finally kicked me out of the nest and told me to fly… I still didn’t feel ready but I took flight anyway. The first few classes I taught were uncomfortable AF and rough if I’m going to be honest… but it got better each time.
Now I teach on average 10x a week between my classes at Alo Yoga + my private clients. I love it, I feel at home, I am so fulfilled by it- but it took time! My journey to teaching was a bumpy one but I am so happy I stayed the course and stuck with it because I am truly so passionate about it. All the practice teaching and assisting in the world didn’t prepare me like actually doing it did if I am going to be completely honest… BUT because I’ve been where you’ve been (hardcore seeking tips for new yoga teachers lolz) along my teaching journey I have gathered up some very valuable tips that I want to share with you! So with that being said…..here are my 7 tips for new yoga teachers 🙂
7 TIPS FOR NEW YOGA TEACHERS
Find Your Voice
I would hear this from teachers all the time but I never understood what it meant until.. I found my voice. I actually think it’s less about finding your voice and more about finding the words! When I say finding the words I mean figuring out how best to describe poses and how to speak cues.. and the only way to do that is by actually doing it. I would practice teach a bunch and pretend teach but there was no better teacher for me than actually teaching itself… which brings me to my next tip: just start.
I did my first yoga teacher training in 2014, and my second one in 2015 and I postponed teaching until 2016/2017 because I didn’t feel “ready”.. but the truth is the only way to get ready or feel ready is by DOING! You have to just go for it, whether you’re nervous and scared or not, whether the words and names of poses roll off your tongue or not, whether you feel “ready” or not just start . If teaching yoga is what you REALLY want to do then you just have to start!!!!!!
Make a plan!…..then let it go
Before I really got into the swing of teaching I would obsess over writing out a sequence, and I would literally wake up in the middle of the night from nightmares of me dreaming about teaching and forgetting where I was and going blank mid class. Make a plan but let it go. I know you’re probably like WHAT NO I NEED A PLAN AND INDEX CARDS AND A NOTEBOOK ETC ETC… I know that feeling, don’t panic bb… make a LOOSE PLAN but then LET IT GO and let it flow!!! The more you do this the more fluid teaching intuitively it will start to feel! If you have a regular personal practice then you KNOW what flows and works well together.. actually that brings me to my next tip →
STAY A STUDENT
It is so so so important for you to always first be a student of this practice. The learning never stops! Hence why I am embarking on my third yoga teacher training. You came to yoga for a reason: it made you feel good… keeping up with your personal practice is not only important for you in order to upkeep your good vibes on a personal level, but it’s also incredibly beneficial for you when it comes to sequencing! If you have a regular personal practice then you KNOW what flows and works well together! The more you practice, take classes and learn the more inspo you will have for your own classes!
Structure your playlist to help guide you in timing and set the mood! I know that when the music in my playlist starts to build its time to amp it up! And when the slow chill songs come on it’s time to wind down… let your playlist be like your invisible index cards guiding you through your class giving it balanced structure!
Act confident and no-one will question you
Need I say more?… ok, yes I’ll elaborate a tad: majority of the people coming to your class are not yoga teachers (so they most likely don’t know every detail about yoga like you might think they do), and whether they are or not that same majority will (hopefully) not nitpick you for not being perfect (if they do that’s their personal problem lol) if you miss a pose or mess up a word IT’S OK! Be kind to yourself! Don’t put pressure on yourself to be “perfect” (alert the media: there is no such thing!) Even if you’re nervous or scared just act confident and no one will question you!
Connect with other teachers // Ask for support
Just like I said earlier a great example of this is when Ashley + Nicole both offered their support! Connect with other teachers you admire and respect and ask for their support!
Find the right studio for you
This is KEY! Where you love to practice may not be the right studio for you to teach at, just like your favorite style of practice may not be your best style to teach.. the only way to know is to try but don’t get discouraged… for me this was a process of trial and error and it took some time but I really feel like I found my yoga studio home and it was worth the wait!!
I hope these tips help.. and know that I am always here for you if you have anymore questions! Please feel free to leave me a comment below if you want to know more or want me to elaborate on any of the tips for new yoga teachers that I shared 🙂 I also made a youtube video outlining my tips for new yoga teachers which you can check out by clicking below!