I have to start out by saying a big THANK YOU to all of you who participate in my weekly yoga q&a’s on Instagram, because your questions help to inspire these posts. This week, someone submitted a question asking what my top tips for battling imposter syndrome are, and I was expecting to link out the answer to my blog…until I realized I haven’t written about this yet.
Honestly, I don’t know how it’s taken me this long to write about tips for imposter syndrome as a yoga teacher, because this has got to be one of the most asked questions I get. And I get it, imposter syndrome is real. It’s something that tends to impact just about everyone at some point or another on their journey.
This post will break down what imposter syndrome is, how this shows up in the yoga teaching industry, and my top tips on how you can combat imposter syndrome with capability and confidence. My hope for you is that you walk away from reading this feeling empowered in your own voice as a teacher, and ready to teach your next class!
What Is imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is when someone doesn’t believe they’re good enough, capable, or even deserving for their success. Oftentimes this feeling shows up in work-related settings, and can make you feel like you’re not qualified to be there.
This is something that can happen to anyone, in an industry, across the world. And trust me, I’ve had moments of imposter syndrome myself throughout my teaching career, as well as other branches of work that have come along with my work in yoga.
As scary as it can be to feel like you’re not good enough, the most important thing you can do is work on cultivating confidence to overshadow the doubt.
How Imposter Syndrome Shows Up For Yoga Teachers
In my mentorship program, I work with a lot of yoga teachers who express they don’t feel good enough to teach for a variety of reasons. While there are many reasons that one might not feel worthy of teaching yoga, these are some of the most common instances of imposter syndrome in yoga teachers that I hear about on a daily basis:
- I haven’t been practicing long enough.
- I haven’t been teaching long enough.
- What if I don’t know the answer to someone’s question?
- I’m scared for someone to get hurt in my class.
- I can’t physically do all of the hard stuff, like handstands and big backbends and arm balances.
- I’ve never been to India.
- I haven’t had enough training.
- I don’t remember all of the philosophy.
- What if I don’t know how to modify something when someone needs help?
- I’m unsure of my own style and beliefs in yoga.
- I’m scared people won’t like me, my class, my sequences, or my cues.
- I just want to be able to share this sacred practice with the same meaning it was shared with me, and I don’t think I’m qualified to do that.
Do any of these thoughts or feelings sound familiar to you? If they do, then you’ve probably experienced some kind of imposter syndrome on your teaching journey. And guess what? That’s okay! In fact, I’d guess just about everyone reading this post can relate. Myself included.
Tips To Work Through Imposter Syndrome As A Yoga Teacher
There’s nothing wrong with experiencing imposter syndrome. It’s normal, and happens to nearly everyone. I’d even argue that those nerves you feel before you teach are a good thing. Because those nerves mean you care. Those nerves are keeping you accountable, and pushing you to continually be a better version of yourself as a teacher.
The only time that imposter syndrome becomes a problem, is when the fear gets so loud that it blocks you from moving forward. Remember, it’s okay to feel afraid, anxious, or nervous to teach. These feelings are just telling you that you want to do your best. That’s a good thing!
What’s not okay is when you let your fear of not being good enough stop you from teaching, from trying, or from taking that step out of your comfy little cocoon. Typically, when we let the fears “win,” that’s when we start to feel even worse about ourselves. Which creates a vicious cycle of reinforcing the idea that you’re not good enough.
The best way to face fear is with confidence, clarity, and inner trust. My tips for combatting imposter syndrome will help you do just that.
Create an intention
The very first thing I like to tell teachers who are experiencing imposter syndrome is to create an intention as a teacher. You’re probably already familiar with what an intention is, because you probably offer them in your yoga classes.
For anyone who doesn’t know how to create an intention as a teacher, I’d like you to try to FEEL into your why, rather than think too much about it. Why are you a yoga teacher? Let that answer bubble up and out of you, rather than racking your brain to come up with something “good.”
If it takes time for you to reach your answer, that’s okay. You’ll want to wait until the correct and true answer comes through, as this will be an anchoring force when the nerves and anxiety make you want to float away.
Teach as much as you can
Now that you know your why as a teacher, I’d like for you to teach as much as you can. This will look different for everyone, as we all have different lives, schedules, and workloads. Say yes to all of the teaching opportunities that you can within your own capability.
Yes, it’s helpful to take time to digest everything from your first 200 hour YTT, because it is a lot of information all at once. However, you can digest, and continue to teach, too. Even if that means just practice teaching your classes verbally on your daily walk, or teaching to friends, family, or roommates.
When you’re fresh out of your first yoga teacher training, you’re more likely to have the language of teaching already in your mouth. The less rusty you’ll be. Typically, the longer someone waits after completing their 200 hour YTT to the time in which they start to teach, the more confidence they lose.
Ask for feedback
Whenever I encourage teachers to ask for feedback, they’re terrified. I get it, I get nervous every time I get a new review that pops up on my app, or on my Yoga Alliance school profile. It’s scary to know that you can put your heart and soul into something, and someone might rip it apart.
But here’s the thing: feedback is incredibly valuable for you as a teacher. Especially if you’re looking to grow, and continually work with your students’ needs. Check out my post about feedback for yoga teachers to learn more.
So, you’re worried you’re not good enough? You’re scared you don’t know enough? Guess what…you can change this by actually taking time to study! You don’t need to be a walking yoga encyclopedia by any means. And it’s okay to tell your students, “I don’t know,” instead of fronting to know the answer to everything.
However, if there’s something in particular that you’re scared about happening that you won’t be equipped for, then you can take the time to actually study so that you are equipped after all. If you don’t think you know enough about anatomy, alignment, modifications, or anything else in the yoga world- you can learn it all with a few clicks.
I’m a huge proponent of continued education, which is why I created my 100 hour course. Not only can continued education hours help you to advocate for a higher pay as a teacher, but these courses can help to refine your skills as a teacher- especially in areas that you might not have had that much in your 200 hour training.
There are thousands of other continued education courses out there other than mine, and you can choose if you want the liberty of a self-paced online course, or an in-person getaway. Just choose something. Invest in yourself as a teacher, and invest in your education. This helps with confidence.
Similar to self study, self practice is imperative for yoga teachers to grow in their confidence, and to solidify your own experience of yoga. How can you teach something that you don’t actually do yourself?
Self practice can look like an at-home practice alone, a guided online class, or a studio session. As long as you’re getting on the mat just about every day, then I’m happy. Why? Because this is practicing yoga holistically by incorporating tapas (discipline) into your practice, rather than only focusing on asana (the postures). For inspo on how to maintain a self practice, check out my post for tips.
The moral of the story is that you are good enough. You might need refining, you might need more practice, and you might need to learn more. But that’s part of the beauty of yoga: it’s a lifelong practice, not a destination of perfection.
Say yes, show up, stay curious. Don’t let your fears win.