So you’ve just completed your Yoga Teacher Training or are currently on your Teacher Training Certification program! Either way, Congratulations! Let’s learn How to be an awesome yoga teacher.
Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) or Teacher Training Certification (TTC) is one of the most remarkable definitives in a yoga teacher’s journey.
Every teacher enters into it with their own intention, and well, agenda.
Many aspiring teachers have the idea that a YTT would enable them to understand yoga better and still others want to bring the benefits of their own practice to a larger audience.
There are many others who have no intention to ever teach anyone else but only embark on their inner journey of spiritual evolution and then we have a remarkably specific group who would like to choose a quick certification to help them change careers.
Regardless of what the intention is because everyone’s choice is relevant, my hope is that this article would help to fine-tune your intention and be the best possible version of yourself as a yoga teacher!
As schools, teacher trainers and mentors, it puts us faculty members and enrollment counselors in a very relevant and responsible position although we ourselves, as yogis, are still on our own paths.
However, the guidance that we choose to offer prospective candidates for the teaching programs are often one of the most important things most of us teachers cherish for a long time to come.
In my experience, the enthusiasm that a new graduate possesses is one of the most uplifting moments for teacher trainers and training schools.
It is amazing to simply listen to graduating teachers’ stories, personal yoga journeys and evolving aspirations of how they intend to serve the community.
Being a yoga teacher and leading a class of yogis – ranging from novices to seasoned practitioners, including those with accessibility requirements – puts us in the position to enable transformation in our classrooms.
Here are some of the things you can do to:
1. Be Punctual
It is important to be present before your class begins and to leave sufficient time after class to connect with your practitioners. Being late as a teacher is a sign of poor discipline and sets your students to follow your lead. Be an example of the change your wish to see!
2. Be Flexible
Flexibility isn’t just what you demonstrate on the mat. As a yoga teacher, being flexible with your students and with sudden changes in your class plan are a sure sign of versatility. Being open to and knowledgeable about providing options to your practitioners are a good start. It is always good practice to go prepared with a class plan, but having to think on your feet when the class obviously needs a different practice opens up a world of creativity right in your space.
3. Encourage Discipline
Students, even adults, like structure. Without being a control freak, encouraging discipline in your students with stern compassion be it with adhering to studio or class regulations or best practices induces an attitude of respect and professionalism.
4. Allow your students to be in their practice
Safety definitely considered, it is important that yoga teachers do not bully and push their students towards a state of ‘perfected’ asana. Understand that every practitioner is exploring their asana within the limits of their physical body. Be compassionate.
5. Keep an eye on your practitioners
I know of some classes where the teacher was simply singing along instructions and distractedly walking around the periphery of the studio as if he was warming up for a marathon after class. It is important to move around but do so mindfully and purposefully. Being aware of practitioner’s feeling stuck or challenged in asana or a potential injury is imperative. An encouraging smile and gentle nod is more motivating than a random offering of adjustment.
6. Educate your practitioners
Not every yoga practitioner would want to take up a teaching qualification. But many of them would like to take a piece of yoga wisdom away from their studio class. I like to give a short easy to follow narrative or explanation of the yoga asana or practice theme that can help my classes relate to the class plan. It also allows them to internalize and get in touch with what the practice brings to them!
7. Be Real
No yoga teacher is perfect. Some of us are adept at asana, others bring deeper elements of bhava into the practice. Humility to share with the class what you can do as well as what you are still working on connects real-ness with your teachings. There no bigger turn off that a yoga teacher who stands in front of the class to show off.
8. Smile and Connect
This should probably be the #1 requirement for yoga teachers. Lighten up your classes by training yourself to smile and be more approachable.
9. Stay Informed
Know what’s happening in the yoga community – locally as well as globally. Engaging in conversation and discussion with your practitioners brings them in the fold of yoga and lets your practitioners know that your knowledge is current and well-informed.
10. Speak well of other teachers
While yoga is non-competitive and has an underlying Yama of Asteya, it is very easy to hoard on our knowledge and teach with a sense of corporate proprietorship. This runs the risk of teachers underplaying peers and colleagues. Knowing that authenticity and integrity are a big draw for well-meaning practitioners, speaking well of your peers allows the sentiment to be reciprocated. Remember, every yoga teacher brings their unique skill to the class and after all yoga builds community!
So you see, there really is no such thing as the perfect teacher. We all fumble, we all mess up many times – but it takes awareness and dedication to really brush ourselves up step up to create a space of safe acceptance and yoga for our students.