First of all, Congratulations! You made it through 200+ hours of teacher training, and are now a totally certified yoga instructor! Be proud of your hard work and dedication. From the first day of your training to the very end, you’ve grown and learned so much. If your training was anything like mine, it involved way more soul searching, crying, singing, and laughing than you ever imagined.
Now it’s time to take all that beautiful knowledge and experience you have gained, and share it with the world!
Scary, right? Yup, I totally remember! It’s now been over a year since I made the leap to go through my teacher training, and eight months since I started teaching. As a new teacher, I made so many mistakes that make me want to cringe. I'd love to pass along some of the things I learned, so perhaps you won't make the same mistakes I did! Here are my top tidbits of advice for the newly certified yoga instructor:
Teach Right Now!
Start teaching right away. Don’t wait. Trust me, it is way easier to take the momentum you gained from your teacher training, and roll with it. If you stop and congratulate yourself too long, you lose so many of the things you learn.
Try to line up a teaching gig while you are still in training. Sometimes the studio where you went through training will have opportunities, but often times not. Talk to other studio owners in your community. Talk with other teachers, your peers. Talk to gym owners.
Often, a gym or studio will want you to be First Aid / CPR Certified. Take a certification course before you graduate so you are ready to go.
You will probably find that many studios and gyms want experienced teachers. How the heck do you get experience if they won’t hire you? My advice is to make your own opportunities. Teach to your community. Teach at your church. Teach at a grange, or community center. Offer free weekend classes somewhere. I taught classes to my family in my parent’s living room. Teach to your pets! It doesn’t matter to whom or where you do it. Getting comfortable in front of people, leading, sharing, and showing others to experience yoga is what is important.
Teach and you will find your groove. It’s going to be scary. Your first class will feel surreal. That’s OK! It’s a terrifying, exhilarating, exciting time in your life. Jump in!
Negotiate Rates with the Option to Renegotiate
Ok, so you found a teaching gig. How are you going to get paid? Its OK to negotiate a lower rate in the beginning. Just make sure you have the option to re-negotiate at a later time. This is one of those “business of yoga,” tips that I wish I would’ve paid better attention to in training. Know that you probably aren’t going to make a bunch of money, right off the bat. Totally sucks, but as you become a better, more experienced and confident teacher, you can re-negotiate your rates. If you provide a valuable service, you should expect to be compensated accordingly.
Keep it Simple
Teach what you know. Don’t try to teach what you don’t. Be true to your teachers, your guru, yourself! Don’t change how you teach because someone else does it differently! There are many different styles of yoga, many different lineages. Just because your class doesn’t look like someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Yes, of course you can borrow things. You will learn from other teachers, borrow their scripts and their sequences. That is OK. The beautiful thing about teaching is that it evolves and grows as you do. Trust your teachers, trust the yoga.
But don’t take it too personally. Some feedback will help you grow as a teacher. Other kinds of feedback says more about the student than it does about you. Know that you can’t please everyone, and know that some students will not return. This is hard and can be heart-breaking. Yoga can be a shared experience of love and joy. Some students will be amenable to this. Some students will not be.
It is so important to practice what you teach! Stay authentic. As a new teacher, you will experience yoga classes differently. You now see classes through the lens of a teacher. You will learn invaluable things from your fellow teachers; what feels great as a student, what doesn’t, what flows, what doesn’t, etc.
It’s also important to honor your own practice. Teaching is not like taking a class. Once you start teaching, you need to make time for yourself, for your own sanity. Make time for your own practice.
Teach What You Love
Lastly, teach from the heart. Teach the yoga that you love, and others will love it too.
I wish you all the luck in your new adventure. Through teaching, we learn so much more than we would if we remained a student.
“To teach is to learn twice.” – Joseph Joubert
Now get out there, and share your yoga!