I have to start off by saying thank you, because this post is really only happening thanks to all of you. This is one of the things I love most about having a blog, and a social media presence…I get so inspired from everyone in the audience!
Also, let this be a reminder to all of you to include your audience in your creation process. More on that HERE if you’re interested in learning more.
Okay, now let’s get into it. Why am I thankful to you? Well, because one of the most commonly asked questions I get is: what advice do you have for new yoga teachers?
Whenever I get a question repeatedly, this tells me that it would make a great blog of Instagram post topic, because it has the opportunity to reach even more people. And, chances are, if a lot of people in my audience have the same question- there’s also a whole lot of people who aren’t in my audience who probably have that question, too.
All of that being said, this post is dedicated to all my new teachers out there. I know the step from your 200 hour yoga teacher training out into the world of teaching can feel daunting, so this is a round up of my top advice to support you along the way.
For anyone looking to start their yoga teacher training journey, check out this post HERE for guidance.
The Best Advice For New Yoga Teachers
First things first, CONGRATS! You’re either a brand new teacher who’s just graduated, or you’re about to be. Either way, that’s a HUGE feat, and I’m super proud of you.
Take a moment to celebrate you and all that you’ve learned in your 200 hour YTT process, before you dive into these tips. It’s important to recognize the accomplishment of simply finishing this program in the first place.
Like I mentioned before, transitioning from your first YTT to actually teaching can feel terrifying. Trust me, I used to literally black out with fear when I first started teaching. It didn’t matter that I’d been practicing for 15 years already, I was still a new teacher. And it was scary!
More on my yoga story HERE.
The truth is, you’re allowed to feel scared and still be a successful teacher. Remember that.
Nerves Are A Good Thing
Here’s the thing, as annoying as teaching anxiety can be, it’s also important to remember that nerves are actually a good thing. Why? Because nerves mean that you care!
Chances are, you’ve chosen to become a yoga teacher because this practice has helped to transform your life in some way. And that’s a hefty weight to carry when it comes to delivering the practice to others.
The truth is, it’s actually a lot more concerning when you stop being nervous about your classes. When you’re on autopilot, and feel like you can perform with your eyes closed. This means you’re checked out, rather than checked in to the experience.
Nerves are a good thing. You just care a whole lot.
Start Teaching Right Away
Although there are all different styles of 200 hour YTTs out there, I’m hoping that your’s came with quite a bit of practice teaching. Even if you didn’t have a ton of practice teaching hours, you’re still coming out of a program where you ate, slept, and breathed yoga for 200 hours.
Regardless of if you completed your first training in a month abroad, or over a few months locally- you’ve just acquired 200 hours of yoga knowledge. Your brain is bursting with information right now!
A mistake that many new teachers make is that they don’t do anything right after they graduate. Because they feel overwhelmed with all that new information. I’d suggest, however, that you take the momentum of it, and start teaching right away.
When you don’t use it, you lose it.
Practice On Friends And Family
Now, when I say that I want you to teach right away, I mean specifically in a safe environment. Even with the best 200 hour yoga teacher trainings, many students don’t feel ready to teach yet immediately after. And that’s okay.
What you can do is teach your friends and family. Teach with your fellow yoga teacher trainees in your program. Practice teach on teachers in the studio that you want to teach at one day.
Use this time to refine all of that knowledge you just acquired, and to make it your own. Rather than memorizing a script, and reciting rehearsed cues- use this practice teaching time to find your own unique voice as a teacher.
Learn more about refining your cues HERE.
Focus On Safety First
One of the reasons new yoga teachers feel overwhelmed is that there’s a lot to remember: a sequence itself, the perfect cues, a playlist, hands on assists, no demo’ing, all the while floating around the classroom like you’re not stressed at all…even though you are.
Instead of trying to perfect the big picture, take it bit by bit. And most importantly, start with safety first.
This means that while a playlist can definitely make or break a class, it’s wiser to use your time making sure you create a safe, intelligent sequence. Or, use your time making sure you know the modifications for all the poses in your sequence.
Start with focusing on physical safety with sequencing, modifications, anatomy, and then cuing. And then move into the emotional and mental safety of holding space, and internal cues.
Get A Teaching Mentor
Mentors are vital in all professions. But I can’t tell you how invaluable they are to new yoga teachers. Truly.
This is why I have a mentorship program, so that I can help guide all teachers through whatever sticky point they’re working through. I hold my offerings virtually, in an effort to work with teachers globally.
However, it’s best for you to seek out a teacher who you personally admire or enjoy learning from. Maybe that’s someone at your local studio, or maybe it’s someone on the internet. Either way, invest in a teacher mentor for the first few months of your teaching journey.
You’ll see a huge improvement with your confidence and teaching, alike.
Ask For Feedback
All of the YTTs that I’ve taken as a student, as well as the ones that I lead as a teacher have a heavy emphasis in giving and receiving feedback. And look, I get that it can be super uncomfy.
It’s scary to teach a yoga class, because teaching is vulnerable. We’re sharing a practice that’s impacted our lives in ways that are often pretty sensitive. So when we share our interpretation of it, it’s like walking around with your heart on your sleeve.
So yeah, I get how asking for feedback on an offering coming from the heart is terrifying. But, it’s so important for all teachers. Not only will your teaching improve, but you’ll be able to build confidence as a teacher and hone in on your craft.
More on asking for feedback HERE.
Practice Sequences Verbally
Even though I’ve been teaching for 10 years, this is still something I do before I teach in-person events. Here’s why:
Practicing your sequence verbally helps to build muscle memory in your tongue of the mouthful of words that you need to get out in a relatively short amount of time. This will also help you to establish a cadence to your verbal teaching. Most importantly, this will help you to teach only with your words without relying on demo’ing in your classes.
Remember how I said most teachers don’t feel ready to teach after they complete their 200 hour training? This is true regardless of the quality of the training. It’s really something I see across the board.
The tendency for many students is to take another training immediately after in order to feel “ready,” when the truth is what most people need is practice and experience first.
My advice to you is this: unless your 200 hour YTT was truly inadequate and you literally don’t know how to teach a safe class, then hold off on another training for at least a year. Use that year to teach as much as possible, even if it’s only to your friends and family.
After roughly a year mark, if you still want to refine your teaching, then look into taking a continued education course before you consider a 300 hour course. Take a continued education course that is specific to an area that you’re interested in, or would like to improve in.
Of course I’d recommend my 100 hour course to new teachers, because the focus is specifically the craft of teaching yoga. And, my course has helped hundreds of teachers improve their personal craft over the years.
Let me know which piece of advice supported you the most as a new yoga teacher in the comments below!
You’ve got this, my friends.