Are You Ready to Be a Yoga Teacher?
You’re at your local Yoga Studio waiting for class and pondering the idea of doing a Yoga Teacher Training when your teacher floats into the room, groomed and dressed to your idea of perfection. A wake of scents, home made essential oils and sage follows her to the alter. She sits and patiently waits for you to join her in quiet stillness. She radiates comfort, ease and love which leaves you questioning your idea of teaching yoga. “Am I good enough to teach yoga?”
Yes, I’m pretty sure you are, even if we’ve never met. See, we want to learn from you, not ‘the ideal version of you’. You don’t need to master all of the impressive inversions, go on a pilgrimage to India or be fluent in Sanksrit to be a great yoga teacher. So what do you need? Well, a commitment to doing your own, inner-work, a desire to share with others, and a deep love for a devotional practice of yoga is a really good start.
Let’s be honest. If people want to learn from the source they will go to the source. What we are sharing is a modern form of an ancient practice and it’s still healing, transformative and nourishing. You have something uniquely inspiring to share, especially if you are still learning.
Learning to be a good teacher starts from learning to be a good student. I don’t mean trying to be the most likeable or pleasing student. I’m talking about the attentive, interested and inquisitive student. The one who really listens, pays attention asks questions and actually wants to be there. When you are at your next class, check in. Are you receptive? Are you willing? Are you with it? Or are you more concerned with keeping up, looking good or being seen?
Do you idolise your teacher? Is he perfect, amazing and pretty much the coolest person you have ever met? That’s OK. It might even be normal (I am not an authority on normalcy). But so often by idolising our teachers we begin to filter out anything that we don’t want to see or believe in, like the fact that they are actually human, just like us. By putting our teachers on a pedestal we begin to believe that they are “more than” and we are “less than” and then you wonder how you will ever be good enough to be a teacher…see the pattern? Gratitude and respect for your teachers is essential to learning and growth…allow that to encourage and inspire you but question your doubts and insecurities in the face of your mentors.
So apart from being a good student and loving yourself, perhaps you wonder ‘what else can I to do embrace my inner guru?’.
Serve God. I know, I just dropped the G word, but when did we disconnect yoga from serving God? You may substitute the Divine, Consciousness, Love, Nature, Higher Self, Spirit, the Supreme Lord of the Universe, or any other name that resonates with you but this is still what it’s all about. Ultimately, yoga is a devotional practice of Self-realization. Let your yoga practice be of service to whatever you understand by “God”, to happiness, freedom from suffering, to all beings in the universe, to something higher, or bigger than yourself and you will be humbled and honoured to be part of this ancient tradition and practice. The Sutras say it best; ‘
“liberation—the highest happiness—comes only from a love of, communion with, and surrender to, God.”
-Yoga Sutra II.45
This begins with yourself, which takes me to my next point.
Prioritise your Practice.
Serve yourself so that you can be of service to others. Do you really think that you are at your best when you put everyone else first or believe that their needs are more important than your own? Make your practice the most important part of your day. Even if you can only spend 5 minutes meditating in the morning or flow through a few sun salutations, get on your mat first thing. You will probably love waking up with the day this way so much that you make more time for it. You can always do a longer practice later in the day but a consistent morning practice of yoga and meditation will set you up for the whole day, everyday, and will give you a well of experience and insight to draw from when you teach.
Be real and rock it. Be uniquely and wonderfully you and don’t be afraid to show us all that you are. Your students aren’t at your class for a performance. They want to learn from you, not the perfect, polished, appropriate version of yourself, but the real you who they can relate to, as human to human. Don’t bother with teaching to be liked. When you serve God and are true to yourself you will attract people to your classes who appreciate your authenticity.
Just a note on “the yoga teacher voice”. Don’t. Please don’t! Let us hear your soul, sounding from the depth of your being. It takes courage and it’s so worth it.
Are you ready to share your story?
We all found yoga for a reason. What was yours? Are you willing to share how yoga has helped your life? Will you tell us a little about your life, where you came from, what brought you to where you are now? I don’t mean that you have tell your Intro to Yoga class about the traumas of your childhood but by sharing something about your personal challenges, even your current ones, it’s like saying, “I know. It’s OK. I love you anyways” to yourself and to your students.
If you’re wondering if you’re ready to be a Yoga Teacher then perhaps the most important question is, why do you want to teach yoga? What drives you to share yoga with others? Is it the Instagram followers, the likes on Facebook, the fame, the money? Or is it a deep desire to share something that has brought light and joy to your life? Do it for reasons that are self-honouring.
A note on the Asanas:
And I know you are probably questioning the “quality of your yoga poses”. ‘Am I good enough at yoga?’ Be comfortable and confident in the theory and energetics of the postures that you want to teach. What about all of the beautiful, exotic and slightly intimidating poses that fill the Instagram newsfeed? They are inspiring, fun, creative, artistic, playful and powerful. It’s not necessary for you to master them in order to be an authentic, loving teacher who shares from the heart. So do you need to be able to do it to teach it?
I am a firm believer in teaching from experience. Learn it, embody it, live it and share it = honouring the awesome and inspiring teacher that you are.
If Yoga has captured your heart and your curiosity, keep going. The world needs you to share your gift. The world wants you to shine!
by Kate Middleton
Kate is the co-owner of Gili Yoga and Freedive Gili, a Yoga and Freediving centre on Gili Trawangan. Inspired by the elements, Kate is a competitive Freediver and Experienced Yoga Teacher Trainer, living, teaching and training in Indonesia.