FIVE WAYS TO TAKE YOUR YOGA TEACHING FROM GOOD TO A-MAZING!
Do you sometimes wonder what makes some teachers super-popular with packed classes and fully-subscribed retreats and workshops? Have you wondered what more you could do to keep growing your following? What's the 'secret sauce' that some teachers have and others don't? Interestingly, marketing yourself is only part of the picture. Here's our top five ways you can elevate your teaching from good to amazing - and it's easier than you think!
1. Teach from your heart and teach for your students
I’m a huge fan of author and spiritual teacher, Gabby Bernstein. She can be a little on the woo-woo side sometimes, but she does share some gems that relate to anyone who’s in the business of serving others’ wellbeing. Gabby says, “The work is never about you.”
If you think honestly about why people come to yoga, they are there for THEMSELVES. They are showing up because they know yoga can offer some kind of positive change in their lives. As a teacher, if you meet people at this place where you’re offering something for THEM - nuggets of wisdom they can use in their lives, and a practice that is welcoming and accepting to all, and supports them towards wellbeing.
This means avoiding the over-share, the personal drama and the humble brag - three traps yoga teachers sometimes fall into when they are wanting to make their students to like them. Your personal 'secret sauce' is the passion you have for yoga, the experiences you've had with yoga that have ignited something in yoga. Teach from your heart and from your personal experience, but make the teaching all about your students - relate it to their lives, their needs, their dreams. This means that you have to know them - their bodies, their limitations, their aspirations and dreams for where they want their health to be.
2. Create a safe, honest and comfortable environment
People come to yoga with their whole life experience, their woes and dramas, their joys and triumphs. If you create an environment where all of this is welcomed, and also set up healthy boundaries, your students will feel supported through the twists and turns of their lives. Sometimes they will fall apart on the mat. Your job is not to ‘fix them’, but to hold a space of empathy and support. Sometimes they will want to connect with you and share what’s going on in their lives - be available so they feel like they have a support network, but also know where the line needs to be drawn so you don’t get pulled into their drama. Refer them on to another professional if needed. Sometimes your students will want to be left alone - know that the sheer fact that they are coming to your class is doing the healing that’s needed.
3. Be an eternal student
We can never know everything, yet we can always keep learning. Our growth is a gradual process that must be nurtured daily. Have your own practice that doesn’t rely on you going to yoga classes. Take classes, workshops and trainings to be inspired and keep growing your skills. Self-study like a boss! Read widely on subjects relating to yoga and some that don’t, so you have a breadth of knowledge and interesting anecdotes to share. Have a mentor, someone who’s been on the path for a while longer than you, and who can guide you through any sticky points in your career as a teacher. Give gratitude to your teachers, and your teachers’ teachers. Lineage keeps the wisdom alive, so acknowledge the roots of yoga.
4. Be reliable
Being reliable is about being prepared - turn up on time (or rather, early!) so you’ve got time to create a welcoming space for your students. A rushed, stressed yoga teacher is not a good look! Have everything you need for class - your class plan and sequence, your playlist, your props - all ready before the students arrive. If you commit to a class, avoid cancelling unless there is no other option. Don’t bail out on your students (or on the studio/club you work for) for a more enticing offer. Reliability breeds loyalty, and your students will vote with their feet!
5. Be healthy
As yoga teachers, we’re selling health and wellbeing, so we need to walk the talk. Practice yoga and meditation for your own physical, mental and emotional wellness. Eat well. Get good quality sleep and rest. Practice radical self-care - have the massages and the treatments required to stay on top of your health. Have your own therapeutic support system, i.e. family and good friends, so that you don’t treat your students as therapists. Manage your schedule so you have a good balance of work, play and rest time. Take regular days off and holidays to recharge.