Eight months have passed since the original lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. You’ve faced economic uncertainty and changes in your relationships. Life as “normal” might seem light years in the past. Many of you might even be burned out from teaching yoga online or frustrated that your in-person classes are limited. That’s why today I share 3 important ways to stay inspired as a yoga teacher. Hint: They all start by focusing on what you can control right now.
I’ve noticed this trend regardless of teacher location around the globe. In fact, numerous readers have contacted me with questions like:
- Can I even start a yoga business in this climate?
- How do I teach online and in-studio to accommodate more of our students?
- If I teach at home, what supplies do I need to look and sound like a professional?
- What should I do if I’m just tired of teaching yoga on Zoom?
- Will things ever go back to the way they were?
While I don’t have answers to some of these questions, the others I’ve addressed in various articles here at Swagtail. I created a workshop about how to teach yoga virtually, including details such as lighting and microphones. I’m also about to launch an introductory meditation course to help reduce stress that often appears in times of uncertainty.
Yet before you take action, it’s essential to do so from a place of alignment. Getting on your own mat helps with this. Forgiving things beyond your control is another. Taking charge of those things you can control is what this article is all about. Keep reading and I’ll show you how.
Photo Credit: Ember and Earth Photography
INSPIRATION STARTS WITH CLARITY
It’s important to give students an overview of what you’ll teach in a yoga class before you begin the practice. You include them on the journey and they trust you more as their guide. I’m going to do the same thing here. A quote by Dr. Joe Dispenza inspired today’s topic. It reads:
“If you understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it,
the how gets much easier because you can assign meaning to what you’re doing.”
On the most basic level, it describes that flow of personal transformation. When you learn something new–whether it be an idea, fundamental skill, or complicated sequence of them–you do so first as a student. Then you internalize that knowledge with practice and inevitably teach what you’ve learned to others.
What commonly happens, though, is people get restless or burned out in the practice phase. Or they practice poorly and don’t get the results they wanted. This is often true for yoga teachers as well.
Understanding what a yoga teacher is and why you’re teaching prevents burnout. It also impacts your drive to stick with yoga long-term. The result is that you have clarity about how to take action. And you can rely on an inner confidence to navigate you through uncertain times like these.
Basically, there are 3 main ways to stay inspired as a yoga teacher. It starts with knowing:
- What a yoga teacher is. These are your roles and responsibilities.
- Why teaching yoga is important. These are benefits you offer to students and those you receive yourself in that role.
- How to teach yoga effectively. This includes the logistical aspects of teaching and running your yoga business
Now that you know where we’re going in this blog post, let’s dive into the details.
You can download the worksheet above to follow along and apply these ideas to your current situation.
(1) WHAT IS A YOGA TEACHER
The first way to stay inspired as a yoga teacher is to have clarity about your role. This includes the responsibilities you have in this position. On the surface, your main function is to teach yoga. Yet that actually falls more into the third category of how you take action.
As you know, a yoga teacher is someone who does far more than simply teach postures and pranayama. There is much more to it. A yoga teacher is someone who:
Your students come to yoga for a variety of reasons. Some want better physical health. Others like the mental focus and energy it provides. Yet each person returns to the yoga practice because they want to become the best version of themselves.
In order to get to that place, personal transformation must occur. Each student must be willing to let go of the past, embrace the unknown, do the work, and let the new self emerge. As a yoga teacher, you help facilitate this transformation with each class you teach. You do this guiding breath by breath, pose by pose. It may seem subtle, but the effects are powerful.
Creates a safe space for student growth
The safe space you cultivate in a yoga class is different than those you find on college campuses. In those situations, victimhood is encouraged and different ideas are squelched in order to prevent hurt feelings.
Yet in a yoga room, diversity of ideas is encouraged. As a yoga teacher, you recognize the value of individual differences. In fact, you know that a contrast of body types, physical capabilities, and life experiences in your classes add value to the entire community.
Your attitude creates this safe space. As you value each student equally, all yogis can be vulnerable on their mats. They can face challenges without fear of judgment. Most importantly, they can start to embody the personal transformation they so desire.
This all occurs in your classes because you hold the yoga space sacred for this transformation. Ultimately, you believe in their potential to attain it.
Acts as a mentor and guide
As a yoga teacher, you share your wisdom and experience with your students. Honestly doing so builds trust in your community. You draw greatness forth from your students by asking them questions. You invite them to explore reality in new ways. So as the role of a mentor, you pass on the torch of wisdom to your students. In doing this, you bolster respect, mutual appreciation, and a greater sense of upliftment for all.
All of these are pretty dang important! Just by reading this so far, I hope you appreciate the value you provide as a yoga teacher. Keep reading to discover the second way to stay inspired in this position.
(2) WHY TEACHING YOGA IS BENEFICIAL
Remember, students come to a yoga practice because they seek transformation in their lives. You can reach potential students in your marketing strategy by describing such possibilities for transformation. This starts by sharing the benefits they will receive from a yoga practice. The same is true for starting, and sticking with, a career as a yoga professional.
Want to know what benefits result from teaching?
Here are just a few advantages:
Your health improves
By teaching yoga, you gain the same benefits that your students do when practicing yoga frequently. Physically you get stronger and more flexible. Your fascia adapts into a more balanced, functional pattern. Plus you have better digestion, quicker metabolism, and greater energy.
On the mental and emotional spectrum, your mood improves. You have more awareness and focus. And you can handle conflicts in a healthy way, too.
You uplift others
Yoga is a tool that provides stability amidst challenging situations and 2020 has been chock full of them for everyone. As a yoga teacher, you uplift your students when they get discouraged. You boost their skill set to remain balanced in uncertain times. Plus you provide a way for your students to connect in meaningful ways (even when social distancing and virtual classes take over the social sphere).
Naturally it feels great to help others. Your confidence grows as you do so, too. The best part is that the encouragement you provide has ripple effects beyond what you could see or imagine.
You have more flexibility
As a yoga professional, you can teach in a variety of ways. You can work as part of an existing team or start your own yoga business. You can teach group classes or work with private clients. These sessions can be taught locally or online. And everyone can benefit from yoga so the market demand remains high. The bottom line is that all of these factors give you more flexibility and control in your career as a yoga teacher.
You’re held accountable as a yoga student, too
Not only are you a teacher of yoga, but you’re a student first and foremost. What you learn on the mat you pass on to your students. This is the basis of the learning process. So when you continue as a teacher, it’s essential that you keep showing up as a student. It’s exciting to keep learning and evolving yourself. In fact, this benefit could be one of the best ways to stay inspired as a yoga teacher long-term.
Not sure where to turn as a yoga student yourself?
You can learn in a variety of ways with Swagtail:
(3) HOW TO TEACH YOGA EFFECTIVELY
As Dr. Joe Dispenza says, once you know what a yoga teacher is and why it’s beneficial, the elements of how you teach yoga become much easier. The “how” refers to the actions you take.
Here are some effective ways to stay inspired as a yoga teacher with the technical aspects of your job:
Structure is the organization you have within your yoga business. This includes the time you:
- Prepare for your classes
- Travel to and from teaching
- Actually teach others
- Manage the financials
- Update/manage your website
- Attend to all of the logistical aspects of running a yoga business
This also includes the way in which you structure each yoga class into a meaningful experience for your students. When you have this steady foundation, creativity and freedom flourish as a result.
Your voice matters. You can teach yoga effectively when you speak assertively, use direct verbal cues in class, and listen to the needs of your students.
Design a welcoming space
While one of your roles as a yoga teacher is to create a safe emotional space for students to practice, tangible actions need to be taken for this to be actualized. In fact, it all starts with how you design your yoga space. Check out the end of this article with tips to soundproof when teaching from home.
Embrace your strengths
You’re a unique individual with various skills and interests. Lean into your personal strengths to connect with your students in a meaningful way. Use your talents to grow a yoga business that matches your lifestyle and goals. Staying true to yourself in this way can draw the perfect students to you at the right time–guaranteed!
Establish a clear marketing strategy
A clear marketing strategy has three elements. First, you want to attract new clients. Then, you want to deliberately bring new clients into the fold of your community and ensure all of these students get treated like gold. When you put attention on each of these steps, you can thrive as a yoga teacher.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
Each of the 3 ways to stay inspired as a yoga teacher are within your control. You get to decide your point of focus. You’re the one that assigns meaning to your actions. And you alone determine how you utilize your energy and attention. Tap into this immense freedom and power to continually make a positive difference in the lives of your students. At uncertain times like these, your confidence and clarity as a yoga teacher can be the biggest gift to the world!
Take Action Now:
- Download the worksheet above, fill it out, and gain a deeper appreciation for who you are and what you do as a yoga teacher.
- Notice what actions you’re inspired to take by reading this article or filling out the worksheet. These new ideas can be a breath of fresh air for you and your students when implemented.
- Pick one area or idea to take action on this week. Making changes 1% at a time can the most efficient way to achieve the goals you seek (personally and as a yoga professional)