An important part of any career is learning to accept constructive criticism.
I find this especially to be true with yoga, where feedback can be instantaneous. Rather than waiting for a performance review, as a yoga teacher you often get feedback about your work real-time.
Learning to accept that feedback graciously is a very important component of this line of work.
Handling Instant Feedback as a Yoga Teacher
When I first started teaching yoga, I had a hard time with the instant feedback I would get from reading people’s facial expressions during class. This would potentially eat at me for an entire class, throwing off my energy and causing me to doubt my teaching abilities.
I hope these tips will help you see feedback and constructive criticism as positive rather than negative.
1. Students can sometimes have things going on in their lives that have nothing to do with you.
There have been times when a student will criticize something I have said or done in class, then later apologize and say they were having a really rough day, or that they had something stressful they were dealing with.
2. Try not to read into every facial expression, grimace, and sigh in class.
It is easy to get in a headspace of thinking everything is a response to your teaching, but that just isn’t the case.
Sometimes, people are dealing with their own issues, and what you might see or hear is in no way reflective of their feelings about your teaching. Many students have had to rush to get to class and are just decompressing and letting go of the stress of their day.
3. Rather than avoid criticism, face it head on and with an open mind.
Shutting down when someone wants to give you feedback will only make the situation strained. Instead, take a deep breath and be willing to listen, acknowledge, and even possibly apologize if necessary.
4. Be grateful for the chance to improve your teaching, your presence, or your skills in the classroom.
Learn to view commentary on your teaching as an opportunity to learn something new and hone your craft. Take in what is being said to you and reflect on what you can do to learn from it.
5. If you do have a negative reaction to feedback, study that and see where the reaction is coming from.
Is your reaction fear-based? Think about how you can overcome the fear of someone potentially criticizing you, and face feedback in an accepting way. Be grateful that someone was willing to speak up and bring the issue to your attention.
I actually feel glad that rather than being afraid of approaching me, and me never knowing that there was an issue at all, a person will have the gusto to come to me. This actually indicates the level of respect your student has for you and your work.
How have you reacted to feedback on your teaching? Can you change that, moving forward, to be a positive growth opportunity?