Young people highly curate their self-representation because they draw a straight line between looks and beliefs. As we mature, we realize that our authentic self does not rely on the right outfit, but how we show up in the world.
But stepping into a teaching role can feel like online shopping. We buy it and imagine how great it will look, only to receive it and discover it’s just slightly the wrong fit. How can we adjust? Here’s some practical advice to ground your teaching practice to feel comfortable and authentic.
Dare to be repetitive. A clear yoga class will provide students with ample opportunity to go inward rather than sorting out what you’re asking. You’re not an entertainer; you’re a facilitator of exploration. Deeply knowing certain poses and sequences soaks the methodology into your bones, where it will stay for you to call forward in the future.
Get quiet. In your own practice and teaching, create space for silence and meditation. If you cue a pose up and down on one side, a handful of reminders on the second is all you need. Let your students be in the pose and hear their breath.
Understand what motivates your taste. When I started teaching I was a graduate student, a life shrouded in silent study and solitude, so I was looking for fast yoga with lots of music. It wasn’t until I had a very social, busy career that I understood yogis looking for a peaceful, quiet class. Know why you like certain practices to understand who can relate to you. These are your students.
Because you can’t be the teacher for everyone. Students practice with those who speak to something within them. When you’re first getting going, celebrate and honor the students who are saying, “yes! I want more!” Focus on those who are supporting you.
Be unafraid of new knowledge and approaches. Advanced practice, poses, philosophy, and pranayama, comes with time and patience. Whatever you teach, practice it diligently, know it thoroughly, and remember that all teachers are students first. If what you’re offering is in alignment with your core values, it will land in your teaching practice with time.
But know when to pull the shoot. Your goal is not to transmit all you know. Sometimes you’ll introduce a new concept and it’s clear and well-received, and other times, it’s clearly too much for that day. Redirect, calmly gain control of the space again, and navigate toward familiar land. Wind down with simple, focused practice and meditation to restore clarity.
Talk honestly with your peers. Talk with other teachers about what you’re working on, including your successes and failures. Through conversation and connection, we dispel any shame around or fear around our own journey and cultivate a spirit of community and growth.
I wish you so much joy and curiosity on your path. Namaste!