At the end of the day, experience is worth ten times its weight in gold...or green juice. What you will learn as you teach (and are taught!) will become invaluable knowledge as you go through your yoga journey. Hopefully though, some of these tips will help you out along the way.
1. Find Your Message
As new teachers, let’s face it -- we all parrot the teacher from whom we learned. After all, his/her cues and philosophy made sense to us. We may have even been given a script. But the script and the voice of your teacher are vehicles for delivering that particular teacher’s message. It’s time now to spread your own wings, baby bird- it’s time to find your message.
Here’s the really cool part: it can be anything. Some teachers focus on alignment, others focus on freedom of movement, some focus on the spiritual, others focus on the fun -- there is no right or wrong. You simply have to find a message that is authentic and genuine to you. Know that this mission statement will constantly change and evolve. Spend time with it, visit and re-visit it often. This is the life-force woven into every class you teach, so come back to it frequently to keep yourself true and focused.
2. Don't Just Tell and Show Them -- Move Them.
Once you’ve found a message, it’s time to deliver. Build your sequences with purpose and clearly deliver not only the physical poses, but also your message behind them with solid cues. This takes a lot of practice and it doesn’t always mean the sequence has to center around one peak pose or one area of the body. If I’m delivering a message about letting go of fear of the unknown, then the entire sequence might be built around getting the students off the mat, using partner work, or even flowing with closed eyes.
The tools for delivery are limitless. It’s rarely enough to tell your students the sequence, it’s seldom enough to show them, but It’s always enough to move them together.
3. Get Smarter-er.
A 200-hour teacher training is great! It gives you a baseline of knowledge. But a 200-hour training is like a sign post, pointing you in a lot of different directions. This training opens our eyes to anatomy, meditation, diet and nutrition, yoga nidra, yin, restorative, chakra work, massage, essential oils, paddle board yoga, and the list goes on and on.
Now that you know all of these styles and tools exist, dive into as many of them as you can with curiosity and an open mind. Let it be an adventure! Know that you don’t have to (and you never really can) master anything and everything. So instead, passionately explore for the sake of learning. What you discover may change your life, but it also may help you deliver your message more effectively.
4. There Will Always Be Teaching Opportunities
Being hungry to teach is a beautiful desire. Maintain that enthusiasm. But if you are teaching too much, you can drain your tank pretty quickly. Pick up classes where you can, but don’t over extend yourself. There will always be someone looking for a sub; if you turn down one offer to stay in and refuel, it will not ruin your teaching career. In fact, staying fresh and rested will help to make your teachings more deliberate and your students will appreciate this.
5. Remember That Thing Called “Yoga”?
You’re a yoga teacher. You understand all of the benefits and transformative properties of the practice. You’re a rockstar at moving people. But when was the last time you were moved? Get on your mat. Take a class with your favorite teacher, or skip around town and try someone new. The point is- practice. This doesn’t mean all day, every day. This simply means that in the same way the lawyer is better at her job and happier because she takes your class, you’ll be better at your job and happier because you’re still practicing.
6. Stop Doing So Much Of That Thing Called “Yoga”
What? Didn’t we just say you should be practicing? Yep. But there is more to life than yoga classes; and those friends who invited you over for ‘girl’s night’ to catch up don’t really want to be lectured about how kale is better for you than wine. Take some time away from yoga to explore other activities. Read non-yoga related books. Side note: I love zombie fiction and reading colorful fantasies has actually helped me to use creative and effective language in my classes.
The point: take a dance class, write in your journal, see a movie, ride a bike, even compete in an adventure race. Use what yoga has taught you about mindfulness and light-heartedness, and apply it to life’s many adventures. It’s important to be well-rounded.
7. Return To Gratitude
Lastly, stay grateful. As a yoga teacher, you have the gift of optimism. You know struggle, but you know positivity. You know despair, but you also know healing. Make it a practice to return to gratitude often. Your students love you, and you’re living a life that allows you to share a gift and inspire others toward health.
Above all, stay grateful and always remember to share your love.