YAY! You’ve just graduated from your first teacher training program. Now what?!
Here are some tips to keep in mind as you launch from your teacher training program into the Seat of a Teacher:
Be a student first and foremost.At one point in your experience as a yoga student, there was a moment of inspiration where you were curious about what a yoga teacher training was all about, right? Otherwise, you probably wouldn’t have taken the course in the first place. Whether you wanted only to deepen your practice or to spread your wings and actually teach yoga, your practice served as your inspiration. Let it continually do so.
Keep learning.The moment you stop learning, you stop investing in your education, you stop dedicating time to your practice, you lose it. Inspiration will dissipate - quickly. Make time. You gotta get on your mat and sweat a little - or a lot. Go check out a new teacher or a different style of yoga and attend some workshops, trainings, yoga festivals or yoga conferences. Advancing your education will develop your teaching and translate into value and confidence. The moment you stop investing in your own transformation, you will be less effective at being an inspiring teacher. It’s simple: when you stay inspired, you will inspire your students.
Clarity is key.Clear, simple, straightforward teaching and language is timeless. New teachers often feel compelled to exude their authenticity with innovative sequencing, fancy philosophy or creative language, but this all takes practice to do in an artfully and intelligent way. Use your presence and your voice in an authentic, confident, clear and direct manner. As your teaching unfolds so, too, will your unique expression of the art of yoga.
Keep it real, yo!Speak to your students the way you would like to be spoken to. Use real, authentic language, even if you choose to incorporate Sanskrit or philosophical terms and concepts. No one wants to hear that breathing through their third eye will help them levitate or that if they embody the essence of a snowflake they will somehow be further enlightened. Ensure your instructions reach your students and give people real tools they can practically apply using real words, yo.
Less is more.Life can already be complicated; yoga doesn’t have to be.
Don’t feel like you have to say everything you know about every pose. Offer enough guidance and then give the students space to be. Say what needs to be said to get your students into the pose with healthy alignment, cue the breath and (if appropriate) mention your theme and that is all. Allow for the experience of yoga. Remember: silence is golden.
Teach, teach, teach.Teach as much as you can, whenever you can, wherever you can. Experience is one of the best ways to grow as a teacher. Crappy classes are gonna happen AND amazing classes will, too. The best teachers are the ones who make mistakes and who learn in the wake of their failure. When classes don’t go according to plan, reflect on what went well, what you could do better next time, and then let the experience go. Trust yourself, trust your practice and like Pattabhi Jois says, “Do your practice and all is coming.” Just as you practice your practice, practice your teaching.
Be prepared . . . to be spontaneous.Have a plan but be prepared to deviate from it and cultivate the skill to go with the flow so that you can best serve your students by teaching who is in front of you - which may not be appropriate to what you had originally planned. One of the defining features of life is spontaneity - a great quality for every yoga teacher to keep in her back pocket.
See the Divine in your students.See your students as whole, spiritual beings not body parts and techniques. Humans are multidimensional - and you never know what your students are bringing to their mats. Remember this when a student approaches you or when you approach your students. This is particularly important when offering students hands on assists. Ensure to observe the big picture of what your student is trying to achieve instead of zooming in on them and “fixing” their pose. Look for the good in your students and teach in a way that brings makes them shinier! Uplift and empower every student so that they walk off their mat feeling brighter than when they started their class.
Be authentic.Put yourself into your teaching, teach what inspires you about yoga, teach from your experience of yoga, share yourself with your students. Nuff said.
Take on an attitude of gratitude.Be grateful to your students for coming to class. The fact that your students are taking time out of their day to come to your class, pay their hard earned money, listen to what you have to say and be guided by you as a teacher is a blessing. And as one of my teachers, Chris Chavez, shared with me: “every student is a gift.”
Respect & ServeTreat your students how you would like to be treated. Challenge your students, but be mindful to avoid pushing your students beyond their abilities to where they may be injured. There are numerous ways to challenge your students in safe way so that they feel empowered instead of defeated.
Remember that teaching isn’t about you. You are there to serve your students in the highest capacity that you can offer. Keep in mind:
”No one is ever really taught by another; each of us has to teach him/herself. The external teacher offers only the suggestion, which arouses the internal teacher who helps us to understand things.” ~Swami Vivekananda