Whether you’re new to teaching yoga or have been around the block a few times, it’s always a good idea good to get input and advice from other instructors. And that’s true in any field. Not only can we learn new things by listening to those who have more experience than we do, but we can gain a new perspective by listening to those who come from a different background or have a different approach. This knowledge and perspective can help elevate your practice and instruction to a new level, help you relate to your students better, and just help you feel more assured in what you’re doing.
So let’s look at some wise words from some experienced yoga instructors who have learned a valuable thing or few in their years of teaching.
1. Keep Learning
Life itself if a learning experience; there are always new things to learn. And teaching yoga is no exception. So even well after you’ve completed your 200-hour certification, or whatever your next step might be, reamain as humble and teachable as when you were just starting out. This might mean having to ask for help or advice. That’s okay; we’ve all been there; it’s human. I’d wager that there are a lot of people willing and able to help you succeed.
2. Keep Practicing
Yoga is a practice, so knowledge is only half the battle. To be a good yoga instructor, you need to be a good yoga practitioner. So, whether it’s on your own or it’s studying with another teacher, make sure you commit to continuing to practice for yourself.
3. Respect Your Students’ Time
Start on time. End on time. Your members’ time is precious, and they took time out of their busy schedules to practice with you. They will appreciate your efforts to respect and value their time.
4. Learn Their Names
Whether it’s one person in a one-on-one virtual session, or a class of thirty, using names can be a powerful way to build a deeper connection with your students. And that connection might be what keeps them coming back to you.
5. Be Authentic
People respond well to authenticity. We can often tell when someone is putting on a persona or wearing a mask—and we don’t much care for it. The more you can be open and authentic—that is, really be yourself—the easier it will be for you to connect with your students. After all, your level of authenticity will set the tone for the rest of the class.
Sometimes authenticity means opening up about your imperfections. We all have them. The more you’re comfortable being your true, imperfect, beautiful self, the more your students will embrace their beautiful imperfections. In fact, it might just inspire them to try a new pose they had been scared to try out of fear of failing, or it might inspire them to do some much-needed soul searching.
6. Listen and Have Compassion
For many people, yoga can be a stress release, a way to process emotions, a safe space. When you can listen to them and their problems with emptahy and without judgment, you are helping to create that safe, inclusive space for them to grow and to deal with life’s struggles.
7. Learn to Take Criticism
There are two parts to taking criticism well. The first is to honestly listen to, consider, and apply well-meant constructive criticism. These critiques are not always easy to hear (who likes being told how they can be better?), but they come from good intentions: these people genuinely want to help you get even better at what you do. So it would be a good idea to heed what they have to say.
The second part is to learn to let go of the haters. There will always be people who don’t like your approach. People have different preferences, and some people will not prefer your style. It’s not personal; it’s just different personalities. Then there the other people always seem to find something to dislike and are never contented. As hurtful as their words can be, try to let them go. Remember: hurt people hurt people. They’re just taking out their own incecurities and pain on you. In return, kill them with kindness. It’s probably what they need.
Want to keep learning? Here are more words advice from experienced yoga instructors to help you become the yoga instructor that you’ve always known you could be—and that your students deserve.