YOGA MASTERY STARTS WITH ONGOING LEARNING

Mastery as a yoga professional is established through a commitment to ongoing learning and excellence in the field. Yet in yoga, there is no predetermined course outline or education curriculum to gain such mastery. Instead, you have to create a schedule on your own. This blog will give you the essential steps to do so. The end result? You’ll sharpen your skills, have more opportunities to share your passion, and position yourself for the long-term success you desire.

Ever since I was young, I loved to read. In fact, I’d often hunker down in the classroom during recess in order to finish the latest edition of the Magic School Bus. Learning gave me access to new places and ideas. It sparked my imagination and creativity.

That’s probably why I read one book per week last year and will reach the same target again by the end of this one.

Thanks to the internet and global expansion of yoga available today, you can amp up your yoga knowledge via many sources other than books alone. And you can learn from the best in the industry without leaving the comfort of your own home or community.

The flipside of that coin is that the selection of resources from which to learn can be overwhelming. And, with so many other responsibilities on your plate right now, it can be exhausting to think of adding one more thing to your to-do list.

The last thing I want to do is add more pressure to your plate by adding more learning to your plate. Instead, my goal is to inspire you to find more freedom that comes from establishing a learning structure. I’d like you to consistently seek fresh perspectives that will add excitement to your love for teaching yoga–not take away from the time and energy you already use to teach.

Not quite sure what I mean by all of this? Keep reading, and discover just how adding small elements of ongoing learning to your current schedule can become a powerful catalyst to the mastery you seek.

Photo Credit: Jay Farrell Photography

THE GOAL OF MASTERY

Mastery is often misunderstood. It’s viewed as perfectionism–in which you need to get everything right. Or, it gets associated with a single, one-time accomplishment.

Instead, mastery is a dedication to the pursuit of excellence in a particular field. As a yoga professional, mastery then means you are committed to refining and improving your craft as a teacher.

Mastery also means that you have the basic skills necessary to express yoga ideas clearly, And when you can do so clearly, your ability to make a positive impact in the lives of others is amplified.

Said another way, when you operate from a place of mastery, you:

  • Sharpen your skills
  • Have more opportunities to share your passion
  • Position yourself to create value for others
  • Better serve your group classes or private clients
  • Wake up excited to work each day
  • Feel satisfied in your contribution
  • Appreciate the field of yoga from new vantage points, and
  • Experience more freedom and excitement on your career path

How do you attain such mastery? I use a very simple formula:

This week we will explore how to create an ongoing learning plan to get you started. Then, in the following two weeks, you’ll discover good habits to cultivate for success and the best ways to deliberately practice those habits for heightened performance over time.

MASTERY STARTS WITH LEARNING

Ongoing learning is the first ingredient of mastery. This is because every time you gain a fresh perspective or engage in a novel experience, your senses leave a biological impression on your brain. Your brain cells–or neurons–establish different patterns as a result. And these neurons start to fire in new sequences.

Essentially, learning gives your brain an upgrade.

You produce new states of mind that become recorded in the brain. These internal shifts then affect the way you think and behave. And these new neural networks can even change the events and people you encounter in life.

This change for the better starts with what you decide to learn, and how often you put that learning into place.

Photo Credit: Master1305

ELEMENTS OF AN ONGOING LEARNING PLAN

A 200-hour yoga teacher training program has a distinct curriculum you must complete in order to graduate. Similarly, many short term events also provide a structure for the learning you will receive with them.

But what happens when you’re on your own? How do you decide what to learn and when?

Here are the elements to consider as you customize your learning curriculum. Simply follow any one of these recommendations to increase the likelihood you’ll stick with the program. Then, in the next step, you can create the time-frame in which to complete your studies.

Grow Roots

If you want to position yourself for success in the yoga industry, you want to have a solid understanding of yoga basics. Thus it’s always beneficial to discover more about the history and philosophy of the practice. And since the industry is always evolving, you can enhance your knowledge by studying the thoughts and patterns of yoga leaders today.

And since you’re running a yoga business, it’s advantageous to build a strong foundation of skills in this arena, too. Here’s a list of my favorite business books for yogis to get you started.

Follow your Inspiration

When you enjoy what you are learning, you’re far more likely to stick with your commitment. So ask yourself the following questions before selecting a program, teacher, or workshop:

  • What do I care about?
  • What themes do I notice in my work, or with my clients?
  • Which aspects of yoga interest me? (like working with seniors or eradicating low back pain?)
  • Which aspects of business do I want to learn more about? (like marketing, social media, or running a yoga studio?)
  • What outcomes would I like to see from my work? (perhaps more teaching slots at a local studio or more private clients)
  • What impact would I like to make in the lives of my students? My community?

Then, once you have answers to these questions, seek out the best way to deepen your knowledge in those areas.

Align with your Learning Style

You have a unique personality and way of internalizing new information. Instead of fighting your natural talents, go with them. Decide how you best like to learn. Is it in person? Online? Do you prefer to experience new things in a group setting? Or would you rather do so in a one-on-one format?

Once you have clarity about your learning preferences, you can allow your natural talents to shine in the process.

Take your Time

Ongoing learning takes time. Instead of expecting to master everything at once, simply focus on getting 1% better at a time! The learning schedule you set below will also help you find a pace that suits your current budget and time constraints.

Photo Credit: RawPixel

SET A LEARNING SCHEDULE

Mastery is defined by the question, “How will I get there?” This means that it’s essential for you to create a game plan for your ongoing learning. It’s up to you to decide what to learn, and when to learn it. Plus, you’ll want to set up a schedule in a way that is in harmony with your existing responsibilities.

Learn Each Week

This is the most frequent time frame in the ongoing learning process, so you want the content to be easily absorbed in small chunks. For me, this looks like reading a few chapters in a business book or trying a new yoga class at a studio nearby. Ideally, you want this type of learning to give you an energetic boost and keep you inspired as a yoga professional.

Step more toward Mastery each Month

If you want to learn something new each month, you’ll have a bit more time and energy to dedicate to this task. Perhaps you participate in a 2-hour workshop held on one weekend of the month. You could view a more lengthy video tutorial or even finish the book you started a few weeks back.

This is where our Yoga Business Academy is a great fit for your monthly learning regimen. We have a 1-hour live masterclass for yoga professionals each month. This sparks your thinking in new ways and gives you plenty of time to integrate the new information. Plus the recorded Q&A’s and worksheets provided will further refine your own progress.

Quarterly Goals

If you set a quarterly learning goal, you have three months in which to complete this item on your checklist. This means you also have more time to save for the event if you want to participate in a full weekend workshop or travel to study with a leader in the industry.

You might also:

  • Select a larger topic to study in-depth, such as hip anatomy or hands-on adjustments
  • Host a staff meeting in which members of your team could share what they are learning, and each person could benefit from the studies done by others.
  • Start an online course that will carry you through the rest of the quarter and occupy some of the weekly and monthly learning slots ahead.

Again, the ways in which you can customize your ongoing learning curriculum are endless!

Make Learning Strides each Year

This is the longest time frame for you to consider when planning your continuing education. I like to do a week-long retreat once a year. Sometimes this means I attend a retreat solely as a student, and really just refill my energy tank. Other times, I take a week-long yoga training on a topic I love, such as body fascia or yoga for athletes. There are years I do both.

In any case, I pull out my calendar for the upcoming year and see where I have gaps in my schedule. Then, I look at the events held by my favorite teachers. When I find a match, I book it immediately. This gives me something to look forward to. And I can start to plan local workshops after those learning periods to share these new learnings with my students and community.

IS LEARNING ENOUGH?

Neuroplasticity is your natural ability to change how the brain’s neurons are connected. This can change at any age, and it’s done through the way in which you focus your attention.

Unfortunately, these new neural networks in the brain are not like a college degree–where once completed, it’s yours forevermore.

Instead, the same ability for your brain cells to change for the better also means they can shift again in the opposite direction of your desires. Studies show that if you don’t actively internalize, or repeat, your new neural connections, they can break apart in as quickly as 48-hours.

This is exactly why ongoing learning is just one of the three ingredients to achieve mastery. Next week we’ll talk about using good habits to take those neural networks and transform them into automatic programs that will stick around for months and years to come.

PUTTING IT TOGETHER

If you want to maintain credibility as a yoga professional, you need your technical skillset to match the lofty ambitions you hold for yourself. Attaining such mastery is a step-by-step process in which you’re dedicated to excellence. This starts with a commitment to ongoing learning. Use the simple steps above to create a customized plan of study. Then, enjoy the greater satisfaction and clarity that comes with building good habits on your journey.

Take Action Now:

  • Download our PDF to set your own learning schedule, which includes a recommended resource list in the areas of business, yoga teaching, and yoga philosophy.
  • Set up your next learning event for this week!
  • Enjoy the beginner’s mind that comes with being a student again!
2019-11-18T23:45:27+00:00

About the Author

Hi there! I'm Kym Coco, an ocean-loving yogi who is passionate about writing, travel, and great food (among a long list of other things). I feel absolutely alive on my mat, and I created Swagtail as a way to channel that prana into powerful, practical tools that can be used by other fabulous teachers in the yoga community!

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