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Breaking In

I have been practicing yoga for 10 years and just got certified to teach last summer. I have taught friends and family and, since I am a schoolteacher, I teach my kids every morning. However, I'm finding it difficult to get a studio job, and I'm a little intimidated. What do you recommend? —Ali

Maty Ezraty's reply:

Dear Ali,

I am not sure why you are having a difficult time obtaining a job at a studio, and without seeing you teach, it is hard to comment. But I can offer you general advice about yoga schools and their owners.

School owners who are the primary teachers often like their teachers to attend their classes. This not only builds a relationship with the owners, but it helps you become a part of the community. Teachers who have "come up the ranks" from students often do better in the school when they finally get to teach. They understand the culture of that school and are often better received by the student body.

You should also find out who manages the school's substitute pool and befriend them. Yoga schools need substitute teachers. I assure you that, soon enough, any studio will be in a jam for a substitute teacher, and you will get a chance. Make yourself very available and substitute whenever they ask you. After you substitute, and the students are on your side, enlist those students to help you get a job. Ask them to please write a note to the owners if they liked your class. You may also want to ask the owner or person in charge of teachers to come to your class and give you feedback concerning what it would take to get hired.

It may also be helpful to go back to whomever certified you and ask for advice as to what you need to do next on your journey to becoming a hirable public teacher. It is good to have a mentor.

Sadly, I should add that not everyone is cut out to teach public classes. Some people are better suited to teaching privates or special group classes, and it is good to know your direction. For student teachers who lack the natural ability to stand in front of a room full of students, it is often more important to spend the time building confidence rather then rushing to get a job. Teaching in a comfortable atmosphere is very important to building confidence. Teach in your backyard, for example. Or find a public facility, such as the YMCA, to start in. These public venues often provide an easier environment in which newer teachers can combat their fears.

Let me also tell you that, often, the teachers who are at first the most intimidated eventually become the best instructors. They frequently find a special niche, such as teaching beginners or kids, and ultimately turn into great teachers. Those who are naturally the popular types, on the other hand, often get burned out from teaching and from having relied on personality rather than skill.

Hone your teaching skills with senior teachers, practice teaching in comfortable environments, and substitute teach at local schools. Time could be all you need.

Maty Ezraty is co-creator of the first two Yoga Works yoga studios in Santa Monica, California. A former YJ asana columnist, she travels around the world leading teacher trainings, workshops, and yoga retreats.




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