I don’t think anyone just wakes up one day and thinks to themselves ‘I want to be a yoga teacher!’ I mean I’m sure someone has, but it’s generally not how it goes.
I know for me I was practicing yoga for a while and I felt the shift and changes in my body and mind and then thought to myself I want to do a yoga teacher training so that I can learn more and go deeper for my own personal journey and knowledge.
For me teaching was something that arose very organically, I never looked for work teaching nor did I really even put my hand up for classes. They just came from friends and colleagues I taught a lot of classes for FREE, yep that’s right I taught for nothing because I just loved yoga so much that I wanted to share it with others in my spare time.
Then people who attended classes with me requested I go to their work place and teach and before I knew it I was teaching 12 classes a week, which was a really beautiful experience for me and also an extremely challenging one.
‘Why challenging you might ask?’
The primary way yoga teachers are trained in our current culture is through an intensive 200 hour or 300 hour course. You go in for 4 weeks or for a few weekends over a year and you receive much of the knowledge, anatomy and physiology, and philosophy and teaching tools and then you’re qualified... Great now go out and spread your teaching among the innocent public lol.
If you’re lucky during your learning you might get to actually teach 5 hours or 10 hours of classes and if you’re even luckier again you might get to teach that to the ‘real’ public and not your fellow yogis on the course, and yes there’s a big difference in teaching experienced practitioners and absolute beginners. The former is much easier I found that out the hard way.
Over 10 years ago when I first started teaching yoga to say that I was ill equip would be fair. I had no idea how to support students with multiple and complex restrictions in their body. The students in my classes looked nothing like the pictures in the book.
They struggled with things I had never as a practitioner myself.
I lacked the tools to see what was unfolding for individuals in the room in front of me, and had very little idea on how to best support them in a class environment.
Then there’s the rollercoaster that the ego goes on when we first start teaching….There were times when I had classes that were full and lots of regular students in attendance. Then there were others where I’d end up with 2 or 3 students and I thought this has something to do with my approach I know it does. At that stage I didn’t understand what I know now.
You see after teaching full time for over 10 years in all different environments and to all ages and conditions what I know now about teaching yoga is simple:
Teaching yoga is 50% science - this is the part where we learn all of the tools and the application of those tools, asana, pranayama, meditation, visualisation etc.
But it’s also 50% art
Here in lies the problem no one is addressing the art part, pardon the bad rhyme lol
Anyone can learn the tools but can you apply them in a way that you’re able to express your personality and find your own way as a teacher?
Can you teach in a way that your own unique qualities shine through?
Can you form real and authentic connections with your students in order to inspire them to keep on practicing yoga even when the resistance in them is great?
This is the most challenging and personal part of the journey to becoming a yoga teacher, because it requires us to really look at ourselves and see who am I? and what do I have to offer those who come to my classes?
Further more can you marry the art and the science together so that when you teach you’re present in the room with your students and your teaching simply becomes an extension of your practice?
Now that’s when I really started to enjoy my teaching, when I found the balance between teaching to who was in the room and teaching it from a place beyond my head.
If we get up in front of a room full of students and just parrot our own teachers or try and be something we’re not we won’t teach from a place of authenticity nor will we be teaching from our heart and this is where teaching yoga is so much more than just ‘inhale reach’ ‘exhale fold.’
I wish early on I had a strong connection to a mentor who could guide me through this experience, someone who had been through it themselves and could guide me and support me along those early years of teaching yoga.
It’s why I’ve started the mentorship at the yoga studio in Lane Cove. That and because I found it difficult to source teachers who had themselves done the work necessary to support others on their yoga journey.
So be brave enough to teach from a place beyond tools and allow your individual personality and qualities shine through.
See you at the studio soon Kxx