As yoga schools and classes pop up around the world, it seems like almost half the serious practitioners, at some point, decide to become a yoga teacher. At yoga studios, teacher training programs are popular with students, and some studios are developing certification programs. While it might be that there are many teachers, a great yoga instructor is much more rare. Here are three tips on how to go from being a competent instructor to being a great yoga instructor.
1. Always check your motivation.
People in yoga classes turn up for a variety of reasons. Some of them are looking to rehabilitate their bodies. Others are fitness buffs looking to work hard and round out their workout routines. Some come just to relax. In many cases, yoga students come seeking a spiritual connection or later enjoy a feeling of euphoria after the relaxation techniques. As a yoga teacher, you are the facilitator of all these important and meaningful experiences for your students.
However, even though you didn’t become a yoga teacher for the money, when your car payment is coming due, but you only have $11 in your checking account, it can be easy to forget the high-minded motivation to help people that you started with, and slip into a much more mundane intention.
If you want to be a great yoga instructor, you have to reassert your good heart before every class. Check in with yourself and ask, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer is, “Because it’s my job” or “Because I need money,” then your teaching won’t be coming from a pure-hearted place, and classes will suffer as a result. If one is a mechanical teacher, going through the motions of running a stale class, your students will feel that something is missing in your classes. That something is – the thrill is gone – and you might want to do some soul searching. Most yoga teachers love what they do. If you’re having doubts, you should take a break and think about why you decided to become a yoga teacher in the first place.
2. Be happy for students to find a teacher who is a better fit for them than you.
Every yoga instructor has his or her own style. Within one studio, five instructors may provide students with five very different experiences. When a student says that they have a problem with this or that aspect of your teaching style, be happy to recommend a teacher who might be a better fit for him or her. Otherwise, you can easily get defensive, jealous of other instructors, or resentful of your students – none of which are qualities possessed by great yoga teachers. Paul once mentioned that if you have a room full of happy students and two of them approach you with complaints like, “this class is too hard” and “this class is too easy,” at the same time, just point them toward the teacher who will give them what they want. There is always a small minority who think the class is too hot or cold, when everyone is comfortable. You could make everyone uncomfortable or quietly usher them to the hot or cold room. Be happy that you don’t have to be with them for long on the yogic path.
3. Be happy to change.
On the other hand, it could be that you hear the same complaint about your teaching style over and over again from different sources. In this case, you may have to face the uncomfortable truth that you need to change how you are doing things. Without changing, how can you improve? Great instructors listen to, and respond to, feedback.
Do you have your own tips for becoming a great yoga instructor? Share them in the comments section.
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