So you finished your 200-Hour Teacher Training, now what?
“His palms are sweaty, knees weak, arms are heavy…” Stop living in an Eminem song and find confidence in your teaching.
There are many reasons why a person will choose to take a Yoga Teacher Training Program; sometimes it is to deepen one’s practice, but most of the time it comes with the intention of eventually teaching and sharing Yoga to others. After Teacher Training, students may experience a slump where self-doubt creeps in.
Teaching is giving a part of yourself every time and can be especially intimidating when public speaking is not really your cup of tea. Here are six practical tips to help you find confidence in teaching your first few yoga classes:
GET YOUR FIRST CLASS OVER AND DONE WITH.
“Am I ready for this? Do I even know what I’m doing?” YES YOU CAN, AND YES YOU DO! You just need to get out of your head. The thought of teaching your first class can easily send you to a flurry of emotions. As nerve-racking as it sounds, getting your first class over and done with allows you to see where you currently stand in terms of teaching. The longer you wait, the more you will over think it. Consider teaching your family and friends first. Let go of the thought that your first class needs to be perfect, because it won’t be and it shouldn’t be. That being said, you should still prepare for this class—do your research and apply what you have learned in your training.
Here’s a secret: I guarantee that most of the teachers that you have encountered have scrubbed their brains off the memory of their first class, so you are in good company! Hey, everyone has to start somewhere! It will be your hunger and desire to improve that will keep your journey moving forward.
KNOW YOUR STUFF!
It’s a lot easier to speak with confidence if you actually know what you are talking about. Read through your manuals and review what you have learned in your teacher training. There are many resources available to supplement your education. (Shameless plug: try perusing the PRACTICE section from UrbanYogi.ph) When you understand what you want your students to get from each action and pose, it is easier to guide them into that direction. It is also with this understanding that allows you to adjust either how you cue or how you modify the pose depending on how your students respond.
CONTINUE YOUR PERSONAL PRACTICE
Photo by Pia Puno
Personally speaking, the frequency of my practice plunged when I started teaching. What used to be a four to five times a week occurrence became a once or twice a week thing. This left me uninspired and low in energy. While it’s expected that your mat time will dip immediately after training, make a conscious effort to continue your practice. Taking regular classes also helps you pick up effective cues that will help you become a better teacher. Not in the mood for a rigorous class? Opt for gentler classes such as Pranayama and Restoratives in your routine to find balance. Remember why you started and why you kept your personal practice in the first place and use that as inspiration to share that feeling to your students when you teach.
Image taken from Behance.net
Instead of waiting for inspiration to come your way, why not seek it instead? Find sources of inspiration around you that help you feel more confident. Sometimes it comes from where you least expect it. When you have that extra spring in your step, students can easily pick up on that energy.
I personally started watching more and more stand up comedy specials because I was inspired by the sheer confidence that comedians exude when performing their routines. Not exactly related to yoga but it helped me tap into a space where I can siphon confidence. Everyone is different so find the source that works for you. It can be from a performer, from nature, or even other teachers.
STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO OTHERS!
JUST. DON’T. DO. IT.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to hear feedback from your students and from other teachers. Each feedback that you receive is always a learning opportunity that helps you figure out what you need to keep and what you need to improve on. The feedback won’t always be stellar but do not take it personally. The sooner you realize that, the sooner you will be able to improve how you teach.
Photo from Urban Yoga 2016 with Joan Hyman
Don’t be afraid to crack a joke or two to lighten up the mood in class. Think of having a conversational tone while teaching. When you nurture that connection with your students, the nerves will naturally melt off. Feel free to experiment and try new things in your classes as long as the safety of your students is still your top priority.
Confidence doesn’t happen overnight. Just like your yoga practice, it is a process that is taken one step at a time. Know that you will have your off days from time to time too, and that’s okay! Dust yourself off and give it another go. The more you teach, the more you will get used to it and it will become easier in time.
Amanda Zabat is one of Urban Ashram Yoga’s resident restorative yoga teachers, helping her students find maximum relaxation. She also teaches FNR and vinyasa classes. Amanda has also released her own activewear brand called Flux Movement Follow them on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fluxmovementph/