When you look online about “the business of teaching yoga,” you’re likely to come across a whole array of information, none of which is particularly useful. While many posts are about “the problem” with becoming a yoga teacher (i.e. too many instructors without enough training or unrealistic expectations) and others are simply about the “glorious benefits” of the job (i.e. flexible hours and “lots of yoga!”), there seems to be a lot missing for teachers who have already committed to sharing their knowledge and who are, therefore, looking for real, practical advice.
While I’m no expert, I have learned some things about the business of teaching. I think it’s important to share these real experiences in order to help other teachers, whether new or seasoned, get (and give) the most as a yoga teacher.
Don’t Stop Practicing for Yourself. When you decide to start teaching yoga, most likely you’re not going to be able to jump into it full-time. With another full-time life asking for your attention and now teaching classes taking up much of your spare time, you can quickly run out of opportunities to practice for yourself. When I first started teaching, I was so busy working my full time “corporate America job” that, when I added teaching five to seven classes a week to my already full load, I quickly became the teacher that taught but rarely practiced. My advice is to be selective about where you teach and how much you teach. In order to really give the best experience for your students, you need to have a healthy home practice so that you are at your best physically, mentally, and spiritually.
Don’t Try to Be Someone You’re Not. We all have visions in our head about what a yoga teacher should be, but trying to be someone that isn’t authentic to who we really are is a disservice to ourselves and our students - and isn’t really very yogic at all! I’ve learned to crack jokes in my classes that are a reflection of my unique “optimistic sarcasm.” While I’m not going to appeal to every student, I’ve learned that’s okay! When you’re not authentic, students can smell that from a mile away - and I’d so much rather have some of my students really like me for who I am than to have all of them sense that I’m not being genuine, and end up leaving away!
Don’t Make It About You. As a teacher, your students are there to learn for themselves. You should be a guide and a friend, not a show-off. Explain what you need to and demonstrate what you need to, but make sure you’re never taking away from the time your students need to grow their own practice. Yes, you are the teacher. No, you don’t know it all. Find a good balance between teacher and student in order to be the most effective you can be in each class.