With great power, comes great responsibility—a quote I always share with my students who want to become yoga teachers.
As yoga teachers we are looked up to, sometimes thought of as saints or magical healers. This is obviously false, but has an inkling of truth attached to it. Think back to your 5th grade teacher, or your sports coach, these were people whom you admired and relied upon for inspiration, encouragement, and knowledge.
Being a yoga teacher for over a decade, I sometimes found myself in a difficult position. Delving into the spiritual lives of my students was sometimes difficult. I learned that I needed to take on a more sensitive role. At the end of the day a great teacher must remain humble, as there are greater teachers than ourselves.
1. Patience is a virtue.
I have always moved fast through life, not careless, just very quickly. As a yoga teacher I learned to slow down and gain patience—in the way I spoke, the way I moved, the way I instructed others.
There was a great progression in how this affected my daily life. I learned I couldn’t rush people into certain poses as that could cause an injury, and I could not expect all people to learn things the same way.
Sometimes you have to repeat yourself two or three times because not everyone is going to understand how to reach their arm in front of their leg the first time practicing. Moments like this are an opportunity to explain yourself differently, not become frustrated.
2. Speak with clarity.
Word things so that your students feel support not intimidation—bring more clarity to the way you speak. The way you describe actions creates a better understanding, may it be unspoken or between others and yourself. This expands way past the classroom but into relationships with friends, family, and even strangers.
3. Have empathy.
The ability to understand and share your feelings with another person was something very foreign to me, until I became a yoga teacher. There are moments when people have emotional releases in the middle of class. They reach out to you for support and trust you with their emotions. As a teacher I know that having empathy has helped me create stronger bonds with my students. Before teaching yoga, I was guarded. But the process of moving others and myself through breath has allowed me to become more vulnerable.
4. Take ownership.
I learned to create my work for myself, network more, and become an entrepreneur of sorts. As a teacher you have to hustle to make a living—unless you are doing it for fun or as a hobby. If you do decide to move into teaching full-time, it will require both strength and creativity.
5. Confidence is key.
Shout it from the mountaintops, tattoo it on your forehead, and write it on a mirror—confidence is key. You need confidence in order to teach a class full of people.
They are not only expecting you to teach them something but they are also expecting you to make them feel. If you don’t have the confidence to lead them through a session, there is a good chance your next class might be not be as full.
Confidence is needed to go after certain studio time slots, intrigue private clients, and open your own studio. Own the confidence and know you can do anything!
Why live sheepish? Go hard or go home—in the most yogic, sweet, shanti shanti way possible.
So there you have it. I could probably go on forever on how becoming a yoga teacher has changed my life. I know I will continue to grow through the people I meet, the courses I take, and the community in which I live. It’s a feeling of total support and love!