Szymon Pelechowicz is the founder of Love Meditating, a meditation-yoga…
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could gain a following as a yoga teacher? What if your students told their friends that your class is their favorite because the teacher is so inspiring?
At some point, many yogis think, “I could teach others how to do this.”
If you’re in love with the practice and the way it makes your body stronger and healthier and your mind clearer and more balanced, you can help others feel the same way about their practice. However, how do you learn everything that you need to become a great yoga teacher?
However, how do you learn everything that you need to become a great yoga teacher?
Sure, you can learn the names of the poses and put together a creative flow. On the other hand, you could become completely immersed in the yoga lifestyle – but, which option is ideal?
Yoga is a journey for both the teacher and the students and your success as a teacher is what you make of it.
You must merge your knowledge about physical anatomy with an understanding of postures and their benefits in the body. A great yoga teacher goes beyond that to comprehend the philosophy of the practice, continuously be learning, and also strengthens their connection with the students. You’ll help students heal their bodies and improve their lives as you find your own path.
1. Maintain a student’s mind
The journey of life is continuous. If you stopped learning and growing when you reached your goals, life would be boring. Think of teaching yoga as an ongoing learning experience.
If you stop growing, you’ll just be going through the motions. If you continue to approach teaching as a learning experience, you will keep re-evaluating yourself as a teacher and respond better to the journeys that you and your students are on.
Maintaining a student’s mind will keep you gracious and compassionate as you follow your path.
2. Learn about your students
Most yoga teachers see the same students regularly. In order to help your students progress in their own practices, it’s important to understand them.
This doesn’t mean that you need to strike up a conversation with every student about his or her life story. Instead, you can begin to notice the nuances about each individual.
Recognizing that one student is often sliding around on her mat or another has trouble maintaining his balance can help you adjust your own verbal and body language as you teach each class. When your students feel as though you are speaking to their needs, they will place more trust and loyalty in you.
3. Watch your students
If you teach with your eyes closed, you can’t help your students perform poses safely or look out for potential injury. When you observe your class, you will not only learn more about your students but also provide them with valuable feedback.
When you learn about your students by observing them, you will be more attuned to problems that seem to linger. You will also recognize props that you can use to make poses more effective for certain individuals.
4. Find expression
Your word choice and tone of voice are important when you’re teaching a yoga class. It’s important to use your voice not only to cue your students but also to guide their energy.
If you speak in a slow, dull tone, your students might find the class slow and dull too. Use your pitch and vibration to help your students move. If you’re working on calm transitions, keep your voice quiet. However, if you’re reminding your students about an important aspect of a particular pose, show more excitement in your voice to help them remember what you’re teaching them.
Like your tone of voice, your word choice is important. The class will seem lame and monotonous if students are simply told to move their body parts like a robot.
Tap into your emotions and imagination. What kind of imagery can you use when giving directions? What metaphors go along with the poses?
Below are some examples of how you can make your word choice more captivating:
· Expand your heart instead of point your chest toward the ceiling
· Dive down, sweeping your arms to the earth instead of bend forward
· Push your roots into the ground instead of find balance
· Inhale the energy of your intentions instead of breath in
The way that you speak to your students can take yoga from a series of poses in a studio to a practice and a lifestyle for them.
5. Value the process
Yoga is not a series of goals to be conquered. Yoga is about the process.
You can’t do a handstand pose without working through the poses that strengthen the muscles necessary to sustain it. If you rush through a progression, you’re missing the point.
This goes for students as well as yoga teachers. Each day brings new energy. Your muscles and mind change and grow. When you are mindful of that process, you can cultivate it to advance you through your journey. As a teacher, you can help your students understand the importance of the process.
6. Know the purpose
One way to connect with students is to ask them what they want to work on during that particular practice. Many students will not necessarily know what poses they want to do, but they may have ideas about what needs work.
For example, someone may want to work on a physical issue like hip tightness or back pain. Another student may want to address an emotional issue, such as lack of creativity or a desire to have more gratitude.
Knowing what poses, you can add to flow to nurture these desires will take you from a good yoga teacher to a great one.
If you help students understand the purpose of the poses, they will flow through a series with more intention. This means that they will get more out of their yoga practice and go beyond simply memorizing a sequence.
7. Empower your students
Yoga is a wellness practice that allows people to take control of their health. As a yoga teacher, it’s important to empower your students to understand this.
If you simply consider yourself a teacher, your students may always feel like your pupils. When you continue to learn, see through your students’ eyes and humble yourself, you will empower your students to make the practice their own.
8. Be authentic
Every great yoga teacher has a particular style. Maybe you’re talkative and use lots of flowery imagery. Perhaps you play music that lifts you up during class.
Do this because you’re passionate about it. Don’t do it because you’re trying to emulate someone else’s style.
At the same time, be receptive to feedback without letting it make you inauthentic. Maybe you can’t change your talkative style, but you can change your music selection. Be flexible without sacrificing yourself.
If your motivation is grounded in honesty, you will find it easier to develop an authentic style that can sway with your students’ needs without completely acquiescing to something that doesn’t feel right to you.
9. Use Sanskrit along with English
The Sanskrit used to describe practices and poses is part of yoga’s appeal. Learning the language of yoga can deepen a student’s practice and cultivate learning and curiosity.
Because yoga is more than just an athletic activity for the body, bringing in Sanskrit can activate the mind in a different way. The sound frequency of each Sanskrit letter is also considered to have therapeutic benefits. You can help to unify the vibration of the sound and the vibration of the body by using Sanskrit as you teach.
However, if you only use yoga jargon, you might turn some people off. Use a balance of English and Sanskrit, and use teaching techniques that will make Sanskrit familiar to your students. Some ideas for incorporating Sanskrit into your teaching is to add a melody to each word or use call-and-response.
When your students know Sanskrit, they can take a yoga class in any country even if they don’t understand the native language.
10. Be present not perfect
Perfection is impossible to attain, and an air of perfection can be marginalizing to your students. You don’t have to be able to perform every pose perfectly to be an exemplary yoga instructor. You also don’t need to know everything about the practice.
When you’re present, you are more aware of what your students need as they go through a class. Maybe they are there for the mental benefits of the practice, or maybe they want spiritual guidance. When you can be responsive to those needs, you will be the ideal yoga instructor for your students.
Remember, you are teaching people, not poses.
Yoga is extremely popular, and it might seem like it’s hard to stand out among all of the yoga teachers. Strive to be outstanding, and you’ll be that memorable, inspirational teacher that your students are seeking. Let your passion shine through, and continue to focus on connection throughout your career. Connecting with yourself and your students will make you a top-notch yoga instructor.