How to Become a Better Yoga Teacher (part II)
“Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
I began teaching in 2003 with no certificate and no professional training. I hadn’t been to India (yet), and my practice was just slightly above average. Within three months of teaching, there was a line to get into my classes, and sometimes, people practiced in the hallway outside. Why?
It wasn’t because I was an expert in yoga (because I surely wasn’t), and it wasn’t because I had a perfect handstand (I didn’t). People showed up to my class because I really really cared about yoga. It was my whole life, and I loved to share it. When students had a challenge, I was laser-focused on helping them solve it.
I showed up to class 100% “on.” I asked questions, I gave suggestions, and I nerded-out on all things yoga with anyone who was as obsessed as me. Nobody ever asked to see my certificate and no one was concerned that my Sanskrit was non-existent. They just liked to take a class with someone who clearly cared about the practice and their practice.
Here’s how you can get the same result as I did.
Stop Showing Off
With a few exceptions, teachers who demonstrate constantly are amateurs. Ignore the noise on social media; most of those people are not working nose-to-toes with students regularly. Teachers who encourage students to circle around them as they show off their asana prowess are never the most influential or the most successful.
Strong teachers can lead an entire class, even with 100+ students, without demonstrating a single pose because they are connected to their students.
Show Students You Care
Walk up to students and ask, “Is your knee any better?” or “Did you have trouble breathing in that backbend?” or “Wow, you’re getting so much stronger.” Pay attention, be interested, take notes, and encourage your students.
When someone says, “I can’t, I”m just too XYZ” simply shake your head and tell them, “You’ll get it. Keep practicing.” Most people get no encouragement in their lives ever; not from friends, family or coworkers. Look your students in the eyes, and let them know you believe in them (and hopefully you do!).
- Remember names, remember kids, remember pets
- Remember injuries and check in to see if they’re improving
- If a student needs a prop in a pose (and you know about it), grab the prop for them
- Use your hands; touch is a huge teaching tool
- Talk 1-on-1 with students after class; share tips on their specific practice
- Use positive reinforcement constantly; affirm their potential
Links & Resources