Teaching yoga is a whirlwind of preparation, knowledge, emotion, and passion.
For anyone who thinks yoga is just stretching, think again.
Each yoga class is a multitude of moving parts that when put together create a mind, body, soul experience for the practitioner. It’s truly meant to help people in all facets of life, not just the physical aspect.
To catch a glimpse into a yoga teachers life, below is what they are responsible for:
- Preparing the yoga postures and sequences.
- Creating a music playlist.
- Choosing a mantra, quote, or reading to share with the class.
- Deciding if the class will have a theme or work up to a peak posture.
- Demoing the yoga postures + adjusting students.
- Instructing the class for 60 – 90 minutes.
- Engaging with the students before and after class.
- Opening/ checking people in before class & cleaning the floors & closing after class.
- Signing people up for packages, monthly subscriptions, workshops, etc.
- Merchandise/ retail purchases.
As you can see, there’s A LOT that goes into one yoga class and it requires A LOT of attention and effort from the yoga teacher. If new to the yoga teaching world, this can be very intimidating and even scary.
I was prepared to teach a yoga class BUT unsure of myself and nervous at the same time. It took a few months of teaching, constructive criticism, and positive feedback to calm my nerves.
Like anything in life, consistent practice will help smooth out the wrinkles and provide many lessons along the way.
Below are 1O Tips for New Yoga Teachers to help get the process started and kick fear and anxiety in the butt!
1. Be Authentic
Number one and most importantly – be yourself, your true self, your stripped down to the bone self. Be the person that teaches yoga because it stokes your inner fire, makes your body come alive, and brightens the world around you.
It’s incredibly important to practice authenticity as people gravitate towards our true nature. Students want the raw version of ourselves: the mistakes, the quirky jokes, the hippy dippy clothing, and the weird music.
They want it ALL.
People, whether in a yoga class setting or not, thrive off human connection. And by being you and only you, that connection is created, strengthened, and appreciated.
2. Plan Your Classes
I highly recommend planning your yoga classes ahead of time, especially if new to the yoga teaching world.
Some people have the natural ability to walk into a class with nothing prepared and teach a killer class.
That was not me.
This is still not me.
I walk into every class with notes – sometimes they are followed to a tee and other times barely glanced at. Regardless of the case, notes are a place to return to, to re-center, and to reconnect to the class at hand.
Below are tips for planning a yoga class:
- Buy a notebook for jotting down sequences, postures, and inspirations (keep said notebook nearby).
- Plan accordingly with the class that is scheduled. Don’t plan a vinyasa class if it’s a gentle class. Stay true to the yoga studio schedule!
- Write or type the yoga class notes and bring them to the class.
- Place the notes wherever you feel comfortable. I keep mine at the top of my mat – ain’t no shame in my game, LOL!
- Keep all of your yoga classes/ notes together. It’s incredibly helpful to reference back to them or repeat/ add onto a class.
Related: How to Create a Yoga Class
3. Arrive Early
Like everything in life, it’s always better to arrive early.
I promise this holds true in the yoga teacher world too.
Whether there’s a front desk manager or you check people in, it’s important to set the vibe of the room.
Upon arriving to the studio, do the following:
- Dim the lights to soften the room atmosphere for students.
- Turn on relaxing music to help people settle in.
- Lay down your mat & notes to show students the room setup.
- Prepare students with any needed props.
4. Play Music
It’s not mandatory to play music in yoga classes, but it’s definitely recommended!
While silence can be a great experience, it can also be uncomfortable and not motivating for students.
Background noise is helpful for the moments in between: when not instructing the class, when students are challenged and thinking of giving up, or when trying to drop into the moment and relax.
So how do yoga teachers make all those awesome playlists?
The secret is – Spotify.
Yes, there are other methods (iTunes, Pandora, Soundcloud, etc.), but Spotify is hands down the crème de la crème.
- For $9.99 a month, you have unlimited access to loads of music, like tons and tons. The options are amazing!
- You can play entire albums, subscribe to their playlists, follow friends via Facebook, or create your own playlists.
- The best part – the music can be downloaded to play offline in scenarios like traveling, out of range of service, or if trying to cut down on data usage.
5. Laugh at Yourself
When you make a mistake, which you will, don’t attach to it. Just like we preach to not attach to thoughts or chase yoga shapes, we too can’t attach.
The moment we lose the ability to laugh at ourselves is the moment people get uncomfortable and the awkwardness settles in.
Don’t make your class awkward; it’s just not enjoyable for anyone.
Instead – be authentic and recognize a mistake, address it in a light manner, and then move forward. You will be pleasantly surprised how many students either don’t notice or laugh right alongside with you.
6. Don’t Apologize
When I first began teaching and lost my train of thought or gave a wrong cue, the phrase – I’m sorry – immediately spilled out. And usually I repeated it multiple tines.
This is a NO NO.
The students want to feel and know that you’re prepared and able to teach the class.
If you find yourself at a loss for words or postures, practice doing the below:
- Take a deep breath and re-center.
- Cue the students to take 3-5 deep breaths wherever they are.
- Return to your notes and focus on the next posture or sequence.
- Make a joke out of the situation and admit that you’re completely lost.
- Have the yoga class take child’s pose and think through the brain fart.
7. Dress to Impress
Just like a corporate company would require appropriate clothing, so does the yoga world.
It’s important to not only dress the part but to do it well.
Now don’t get confused here, I’m not encouraging a yoga clothing-spending spree. I am encouraging well thought outfits that radiate confidence, positivity, and a healthy lifestyle.
For clothing ideas, check out the post about yoga brands here.
8. Build Relationships
People love to hear their name; it’s just a fact of life. And people love even more when you ask and remember tidbits about their personal life.
Now don’t get carried away and stalk each student on social media until you know their entire life by heart (I hope no one ever does this)!
But do ask how their day was, what they do for a living, if they have children, their summer vacation plans, etc. Once all this information is gathered, expand upon it and continue to bring it up in conversation. It not only shows that you care but also makes the student feel loved and important.
9. Promote Classes via Social Media
Social media is a powerful tool and it’s FREE.
Yoga studios should be doing their own marketing via social media but the more the merrier, right?
Regardless if the studio pays a flat rate or by the head, the more students who attend your classes and become a part of your specific following, the better it will be in the future.
Let’s just daydream for a moment:
You’ve been teaching yoga for a few years and the idea of opening a yoga studio keeps popping up. If all the years prior to this involved marketing and relationship building, then you’re already one step towards the end goal! People will follow their favorite yoga teachers; I’ve seen it happen multiple times!
10. Be Present
Do your best to let go and disconnect from the daily grind.
Disconnect from a second or third job, relationships that require attention, bills and to-do lists. Whatever is weighing you down, hang it up outside the yoga studio and revisit it later (or maybe never).
Fill the entire room with your presence so that there’s no room for anything else. Radiate to the students that yoga is a space for inspiration and transformation. There’s no room for distractions, false beliefs, fears, or comparisons.
Keep it sacred and holy for them but also for yourself.
These tips barely scratch the surface of teaching yoga and the many situations that can arise.
As a new teacher myself, I practice all of the above and continue to expand and grow upon them.
Remember to practice patience and persistence and know that teaching will start to become easier, more fluid, and natural – just like the yoga postures have over time.