So, yeah, I'm a new yoga teacher. Like, a very new yoga teacher. A very new yoga teacher who is teaching, but still feels like she needs to find her own voice, her own style, when she gets up there to lead a yoga class.
The other night, I had one of those classes where just one person showed up. Which is fine, because it happens. Even when you have people commit to a series of classes, life gets in the way, sometimes, and it just so happens that you'll have classes with just one person - or you'll have a class where no one shows up.
This person happened to be someone that I know from a long time ago, someone I used to work with, and I'm so inspired by the fact that she's been coming to yoga classes at the little yoga studio in Keene. Since it was just me and her, we chatted for a few minutes, and then I said, "Well, it's your lucky night - you get a private lesson!"
As we started to move through some warm-ups in cat/cow, she asked me a question: "Okay," she said, "When am I supposed to inhale and when I am supposed to exhale in this pose?"
And that was when a little light went off in my head. Suddenly, I felt alive and confident. I had asked the very same question when I first started working through this pose, and I wanted to share with her how I had found the answer.
So then I was talking to Robin about it, and I greatly admire Robin, and I value any feedback I get from her, and she said to me, "You need to find that spark - anyone can teach the classes that you're teaching right now, but you need to find that little something extra to bring to it."
And she's right, of course. And it got me thinking, of course. So here are my 5 tips for new yoga teachers from a new yoga teacher:
1. Value yourself. This is, admittedly, probably the most difficult one for me. The first step to being a good yoga teacher - no, to being a GREAT yoga teacher - is to recognize that you have something of value to offer to others. No, really, you do. Think about what first attracted you to yoga; what you remember about the best classes you've ever taken; the best practices you've ever done on your own. Whatever you love about yoga is what you need to share with others.
2. Make more time for your own yoga practice. And the best way to discover what you have to offer to others is to make sure you have plenty of time for your own yoga practice. Let yourself go deeper, experiment with postures and sequencing and transitions, and don't be afraid to think outside the mat.
3. Learn from your students. Your students have so much to offer you when it comes to learning about yoga! How can you figure out what they need that day? What's the best way to teach this group?
4. Keep a journal, every day. Try journaling before and after each class you lead, and before and after each of your own practices. You can take notes on new thoughts, new ideas, how you feel after a particular sequence, and what thoughts come up before, during, and after your practice. Take these and learn from them - use them to make yourself a better yoga teacher.
5. Fake it 'till ya make it. Yeah, it's gonna happen to you, too: you'll be up there in front of a class, and even with your carefully written notes stashed under a corner of your mat, or scribbled on your hand, you're gonna draw a complete blank. You're gonna be that rabbit in the headlights. But you know what? Don't sweat it. Put everyone in mountain pose, or child's pose. Give them (and yourself) a few minutes to rest, get back into your flow, and move on.
Don't forget: teaching yoga, just like the practice of yoga, is a journey...not a destination.