You’re inspired. You want to teach yoga.
You have your favorite teachers.
They ignite your practice and guide you to a space of expansive calm within.
They facilitate with an eloquence that seamlessly weaves posture setup with breath awareness, attention to the tempo of the class and time spent in each pose, and on top of that, they deliver inspiring words that illuminate and touch your heart.
How DO they do that?
How will YOU do that?
The space from inspired student to inspirational instructor isn’t that broad, however, making the leap does require healthy doses of patience, sincerity and compassion.
Below are some tools to support you in bridging that gap while encouraging you to enjoy every step on the path to finding comfort within the seat of the teacher.
1. Set Your Sincere Intention
Yoga has vastly improved your quality of life. Your moods are more balanced, your perspective is clearer. You have improved posture, strength, digestion and range of motion. You now have skills to respond rather than react to life circumstances. You’re happy and you want to share the good news with your community – Yoga Heals.
Your access pass to inspiration is your sincere desire to share what has helped you reduce suffering (and thus assist others in reducing suffering) and gain health.
1. Check in with your motives to take the seat of the yoga teacher
Why do you want to teach? Notice the motives that are altruistic and community oriented – to help, to serve. Bring the same attention to those motives to boost your ego, represent as a kind person, or to improve your standing in the eyes of another or even within yourself.
Write them all down and be completely honest with yourself. Yoga is about union and the integration of the shadow with the light.
2. Craft an intention for your teaching and programs
Let this intention fuel you especially in those times when you feel nervous, insecure or unsure of what to do or say next or how to develop a workshop or theme. The sincerity of your intention will get you out of your head and will return you to the heart – your wellspring of inspiration.
Note: I have a professional mission statement/intention: to assist women in the liberation of TraumaDrama – the stories that hold us back from our full potential. This intention fuels all my programs and can be felt through the verbal and non-verbal transmissions that happen when writing content and facilitating offerings.
2. Practice Devotion
Yoga is a path of devotion. You show up over and over, dedicated to clear away tension, stagnation and illusion so you can live with ease and see things as they really are. You return over and over to your practice, in each moment – on and off the mat; inside and outside of your hoop. You offer your life to the Self and to the greatness that connects us all.
Develop a steady personal practice – sadhana
Devotion fuels your practice by inspiring discipline. This discipline shows up as daily ritual that boosts your self-esteem and expands your awareness. Through your practice you receive knowledge, wisdom, understanding and compassion. You then share your known insights in your classes and programs.
Note: For some time, you will rely on what others have told you (what you’ve read and heard) and you will reflect that back to your students, however, with your sincere, ongoing personal practice, your inner wisdom comes forward. Your understanding is no longer based on hearsay, but on direct experience. This is inspiring and creates a vibration of trust that draws students/practitioners to you.
3. Be Observant
Your yoga practice returns your awareness to the unwavering, calm seat within – the Observer Self (Shiva) that watches the Divine Play (Lila) of Life and Expression (Shakti). Be the witness in all aspects of your life and allow your renewed perspective to fuel your yoga instruction.
1. Take Classes
In the early years of my studies as a yoga therapist and group fitness/yoga/dance instructor, I brought my yoga notebook with me everywhere. I kept it by my mat when I attended classes and took notes on what I felt, what I noticed about the vocal tone of the teacher and the cadence of the class. I would take notes before, during and after the practice to set my intention as well as note my current mood. After the class I reflected on what stood out about the teacher’s facilitation. I wrote down what I liked and what I thought could be improved upon.
2. Listen to your Students
In reality, your students are your teachers. They will respond to your cues – effectively or with uncertainty. As you teach, do your best to stay in the present – in the observer seat. Notice your student’s subtle and obvious reactions to your instructions and messages. If they don’t “get it” they will let you know – uncertain movements, a look of confusion on the face, etc. Make an inner note and adjust your delivery. Experiment with your delivery and hold your student’s safety in the highest regard. Note any inner determination to stick with your predetermined flow or message.
4. Prepare to Let Go
As you grow as a teacher, resource yourself by preparing for your classes.
Invest your time and energy in developing themes, creating outlines/sequences, bullet pointing important information and making playlists for each offering. You’ll feel confident having a skeleton and structure for your classes. You’ll have notes to reflect upon while facilitating. That said, remember that the juice – the rasa – the inspiration that you seek, exists in the moment. It lives in the Call and Response dynamic where you are attentive to the energy of the room, the mood of the moment, the needs of your practitioners and the connection to the guide within you.
Note: Holding on too tight to your notes can create stagnation. Remember, yoga is a living practice. Resource yourself with structure so you can feel confident in letting go and responding to the moment.
5. Embody your Asana
Asana means Earth Seat. To Westerners, asana primarily relates to the physical poses found in hatha yoga. With a deeper view, each posture holds wisdom and offers an archetypal way for relating with the world. The postures personally share with us transmissions of surrender, strength, courage, steadiness, etc.
Cultivate your Centered Pose, your Sukasana – Easy Seat, your Tadasana – Mountain Pose and beyond so that each posture is expressed internally and externally. Contemplate the message of each pose while practicing on the mat and moving off the mat. Invoke their messages when you are faced with change, conflict, uncertainty, great joy or pleasure.
Allow your yoga to live inside you and you will inspire others to do the same.
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I love hearing from you.
If you are ready to be Influential – in flow with your essence – as a Movement Educator and community leader, join the HoopYogini inner circle of inspired educators. Our next training immersion is September 21 – 24, 2014 in Santa Cruz, CA.
I’m here to support your transition from inspired yoga student to inspiring yoga teacher. In 1997, I attended my first yoga class (on Astor Place in NYC!). It is my sincere desire to support the next generation of movement educators into their greatness as embodied leaders. Email me directly for details on Influential Coaching Sessions designed to bring you in flow with your essence so you can make a big, positive impact on your life and in the world: firstname.lastname@example.org