Teaching Yoga – 5 Rules (It’s not about you!!)

Rule number 1

It’s not about you!!  l learned this the hard way. Teaching yoga is not about YOU. What do I mean? Well a lot of the time we get caught up about our performance as teachers and find ourselves tormented with questions like: What if they don’t like me? What if I deliver a crap class? What if I don’t know something? What if I am not good enough? This list goes on, but it is all just mental chatter, your brains way of tricking you into thinking that the whole world revolves around you. In truth, your world does, just like each of your students worlds revolve around them. But the truth is, when it comes to teaching, all that matters is that you are 100% focused on your students, you’re looking at their bodies and reading the room to deliver something that comes straight from your heart and your own practice. YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH ….

Rule number 2

Don’t pitch your classes to EVERYONE!! A sure fire way of failing is to expect everyone to love your class. This will leave you feeling crap – ALL OF THE TIME! Sure, some people will love your classes and others won’t. God I have had people walk out of my classes and never come back (back when I taught hot yoga)! To begin with I thought this was about me. However, over the years I have amassed a group of dedicated students who have followed me wherever I go and it is these students who are the right fit for me and I for them. We work well together and I love teaching them. I have also come to the conclusion that I’m a bit like marmite – some people love marmite and others simply hate it. Focus your attention on the ones who love your classes as they will bring other like minded students who will enjoy what you have to offer.

Rule number 3

Be open to compliments and criticism but take both with a pinch of salt. People deliver compliments and it is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge when you’re doing something well, pat yourself on the back and thank them for being kind. The same with criticism, listen and ask yourself if they are coming from a good place and they genuinely mean well. If it is a yoga student who has been with you a long time – pay attention they are trying to tell you something. But again, once you have reviewed and implemented the change as required, let it go. Don’t go back to it again and again in your head, this will just torment you. Stay focused on what you’re doing right and keep trying to deliver your best. No one can complain if you’re coming from a place of genuine caring and passion.

Rule number 4

They are better teachers then me! Never play this game with yourself. If you admire a teacher, then take note of what you admire but do NOT, under any circumstances, start teaching and copying them because you think they are better, it makes no sense! (and yes this does include famous instagram teachers too) Always be your genuine self not a copy of someone else, your students will pick up on that straight away. The same goes for copying classes. Sure if you like a class and the sequencing rocks your boat, then yes, for sure take notes but then practice it and deliver it in your way. Do not repeat the same things in the same way … otherwise you will lose your way and your students will wonder what the hell happened!! Plus you will start to lose confidence in your own ability to deliver classes in a way that fits who you are.

Rule number 5

PREP PREP PREP but don’t feel the need to change your classes everyday – YOU WILL BE EXHAUSTED. Instead pick a theme – hip week – shoulders week – hip month and focus on that. Change it up but keep the same theme, play about with one really great sequence and see how it feels in your body and then teach it. There are multiple different ways to play about with the same sequence by adding in a few different postures as appropriate to your class structure. Think about the pose you want to take them to and work backwards. What needs to be open, what needs to be strengthened/lengthened etc – it is very simple once you get on your mat and start playing about. THINK about what your students NEED, think about their lifestyles and the effects it will have on their bodies and build your classes from that.

I hope this helps all those newbie yoga teachers and those who are struggling to find their voice and confidence. All that is needed is to be your genuine self. You might be wondering who that genuine self is, we all go through this stage and once we think we have found it, we get a bit lost again. This feeling is compounded by an industry centred on self awareness and self discovery. Take comfort from the fact that even the most experienced teachers suffer from times of self doubt. This can stem from current life circumstances or perhaps someone has said something to cause upset (see Rule 3). However, the honest truth is we can all let fear overrun and take the driving seat for a while, find someone you trust and talk it out. Look at the faces of those students who come to your class and remember they are coming because you are helping to make their lives better. Even when only one student shows up!!! (I’ve been there too). Being a yoga teacher and finding your tribe takes time – longer then a week or a month but keep persisting and being genuine and I promise you will find them and yourself in the process. Remember – It’s not about you!!