by Yogi Ram: Whether you are a new yoga teacher, considering becoming one, or have been teaching yoga for years, there’s always more to know – and countless ways to grow…
But particularly when you’re just starting out in your yoga teaching journey, there’s a lot to know and learn. From anatomy, Sanskrit, and sequencing a yoga class, to marketing and building your brand as a yoga teacher, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start.
As an accessible starting point and from a yoga teacher who’s been teaching – and training others to become yoga teachers – for decades, this article provides five key things you should know about being a yoga teacher.
Here Are 5 Things You Should Know About Being a Yoga Teacher:
1. You don’t have to be a super asana performer
Many people are afraid to start teaching because they think their personal practice is not good enough. Don’t forget that everybody has some limitations in their bodies. Some people are very flexible but lack strength, some people have strength but lack flexibility, and some have both but lack balance and concentration.
Every yoga teacher has difficulty with certain poses. And that’s great! Because we can use that to remind our students that we should honor, not resist, our limitations and view these limitations as guides instead of a hinderance.
My best teacher was the one in a wheel chair, but his knowledge and teaching methods made up for that. It is much more important to know the alignments of the asanas and their benefits and to be able to explain this very clearly to the students than it is to be able to do all the asanas perfectly.
Most of the students understand this and don’t expect their teacher to be a super asana performer.
2. Trust and credibility are key
You cannot teach anyone anything until they start to trust you. Be prepared to be judged and watched by your new students in their first classes with you. They want to see what you do, how you walk, sit and talk.
Most importantly, your training matters. Having the necessary qualifications (on-going training and certifications in addition to a minimum of a 200-hour yoga certification) will give you the knowledge you need to be confident in what you teach.
Confidence is key for building trust amongst your students. In addition, having the necessary knowledge will keep your classes – and students – safe and keep them coming back. If students begin to doubt your credibility as a teacher, the trust is lost.
3. Teaching yoga and practicing yoga are completely different
Being an advanced yoga practitioner doesn’t make you an advanced teacher. There is a big difference between knowing something and being able to explain and transfer that knowledge to students. When practicing yoga, you don’t think about small details of how you do your asanas anymore, you just know.
Therefore, it is important to take a good yoga teacher training course that teaches you how to give proper instructions and cues. You will also need to learn proper alignments for different body types and how to give personal corrections to these people.
4. Teaching yoga can be a full-time career
Many people assume that they cannot live just by teaching yoga, and think they need to have a “real” job along with it. If you only want to teach a few classes a week on the side, great! But if you do want to grow your teaching into a full-time career, know that you absolutely can.
Yoga teaching can be a very comfortable and satisfying career for those who are professional, have a clear vision, know their subject, have the skills of communication, marketing and actually care for their students. There is a shortage of teachers like these, so if you are ready to develop yourselves into this role, the sky is your limit.
5. A yoga teacher does not have to be a spiritual guru
Though yoga is a spiritual practice, you don’t have to be very spiritual or a highly evolved person to be a yoga teacher. You can just be an “Yoga Asana Teacher.” Most people are initially attracted to the practice as a form of physical exercise and aren’t as concerned with the spiritual aspects. . . at first.
Be authentic and show up as you are. Just as your students, your identity as a yoga teacher will evolve over time. Embrace the journey.
Now That You Know, Get Out There and Be the Best Yoga Teacher You Can Be!
Every yoga teacher is different, and we each bring something unique and special to our teaching.
As we discussed in #5, show up authentically to every class you teach. Establish trust amongst your students, never stop learning and seeking out new information to enhance your teaching, and maintain your personal practice (as difficult as that may be at times).
As a yoga teacher, you have an amazing opportunity to help others. Embrace this role and be the best yoga teacher you can be. Your students and your career will thank you! Namaste.