How to Start Teaching Yoga
By Anthea Grimason
So you’ve recently completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training, you’ve established your own regular practice, you’re enthusiastic and feel ready but a little scared and unsure about how to start teaching. Sound like you? If so, rest assured this is a very common feeling amongst students fresh off a yoga TT and on the verge of potentially teaching. It’s totally natural to experience doubts as you try to figure out where to go from here when you’re suddenly out of the safety net of your community that you worked with during your training. It can be a scary place! Perhaps you’re also currently in a completely different working environment, in a steady corporate job, and considering how to either add yoga teaching to what you do or how to ultimately make a complete career change.
It’s important at this stage to see the teaching journey as a long one where you’re really just at the very starting point. Whilst having completed your first of, hopefully many, trainings gives you a certain level of qualification for teaching, there is, without doubt, much more to learn and much experience to be gained before being ready for a complete career change. The key is to get started, if that is your intention, as experience comes from doing, but to take it step by step.
Here are some of the most common concerns that students and budding teachers experience, how to get over them, plus a few tips on how to take your new yoga teaching path step by step.
1. I’m not ready to teach
This may be true. Some students come out of their training and know in their hearts they are not ready, and that’s totally fine. Be honest with yourself and if you feel that then go back to practice, it will come when the time is right. Perhaps you don’t even want to teach but feel you should having just invested the time, energy and money into completing a TT. A large percentage of students undertake teacher trainings simply to broaden their knowledge and understanding of yoga philosophy, or anatomy to support their practice, without any intention of ever teaching, which is wonderful.
If, however, you have a true desire to share what you know but it’s fear getting in the way, then this is a separate thing. Ask yourself if you really want to teach and if you’re ready or not. You will know, and if it’s not the time, that’s ok. If you are ready, then great – get started!
2. I’m not sure if I know enough
It might be true that you don’t know a lot at this stage within the vast realm of yoga, and likely the training has opened your eyes to how much there is to learn, but you certainly know more than you did before you embarked on your training (you would hope!) The trick is to remember that you know enough to teach the students that you are ready to teach. If you’ve studied yoga and have a regular practice then you know a lot more than a complete beginner. Teach what you know to those who can learn something from you. There are plenty of potential beginners out there.
3. I don’t know where to start
It can be overwhelming and intimidating at first. Try starting with family and friends. Get comfortable leading a small group of people you know. Then put yourself out there. Offer to cover or assist classes at local yoga studios or gyms. What communities are you involved with – office, college, school, parent or social groups? Check if they would appreciate a yoga class. Start by trying to secure one regular class a week and go from there.
1. Keep it simple.
Don’t overthink your first classes or make them too complicated, keep it simple for yourself and simple for the students. Prepare a class in advance, get it clear, practice it, and keep teaching this one class until you’re comfortable. It can evolve later. Try to remember what it’s like to be a beginner and how hard yoga feels at the start. Keep it at a level that is accessible to complete beginners, which might mean make it simpler than you think. The main thing to remember is to always bear the students and their needs in mind, not how much you know and want to share.
2. Have Fun
Think about the yoga classes that you like, especially what you liked as a beginner, and what the teacher was like. Were they relaxed or serious? It can be nerve-wracking, yes, but the less you make a big deal out of it the less intimidating it will be. Be honest about what you know and what you don’t and, to take the pressure off, don’t be afraid to say that you’re a newbie teacher. It’s fine to use words from another teacher but try not to copy them verbatim, or imitate their voice. Adapt and find your own voice by simply teaching from your heart and just being yourself. Main thing is – have fun and don’t be too serious!
3. Keep Learning; Keep Practicing
Your teaching should be, first and foremost, underpinned by your own practice, whether that is asana practice, pranayama, continued study of yoga philosophy or all of these. Practice, practice, practice, teach, and then practice some more. As your practice develops so does your teaching. And the students you are ready to attract will also change as you grow and gain experience. Practice what you preach, walk the walk then simply teach what you know and practice teaching that, until you know more!