Finding your voice as a yoga teacher is a practice in authenticity. It may sound strange to think of authenticity as something you can practice. After all, how could you possibly be anyone other than yourself? But the truth is that there are so many conditioned, unconscious, and deeply engrained patterns and beliefs that inﬂuence our understanding of who we are.
Authenticity is a practice because it takes dedication, courage, and vulnerability to strip away the obstacles to knowing our true selves. There are no shortcuts to self-knowledge; only time and patience. This, of course, is not what you want to hear when you’re wading through the awkwardness and overwhelming feelings of being a new teacher!
It can be tempting to lean into your ideas of who you think you are—or who you think you should be—as a teacher. Instead, lean into the process. Here are ﬁve tools to help you along the way.
Learn your craft
It’s impossible to focus on understanding yourself if you’re also trying to ﬁgure out how to teach. Think of it this way: If you’re just learning how to drive a car, you need to know how to operate the vehicle before you can play with the radio. Devote yourself to your studies, practice teaching, and be patient. It takes time to become ﬂuent in a skill, but the only way to create the bandwidth for self-study is to be grounded and comfortable in your craft.
Recording yourself teaching is a highly effective tool for uncovering your voice as a yoga teacher. Observing yourself in the role of teacher will give you a clearer understanding of your strengths and blindspots. Warning: It’s brutal, but worth it. When we take a step back and look at ourselves objectively, we gain a much deeper understanding of who we are.
Find a mentor
Every teacher needs a teacher. Mentors offer trusted feedback and support. Study with teachers who reflect your potential back to you. Pay attention to how they facilitate your process and learn how to take on that work for yourself. Ultimately, a sincere, respectful relationship with the right teacher will help you access the teacher within yourself.
Process your experience
Finding your voice begins with understanding your point of view (P.O.V.). To understand your P.O.V., you need to actively process your personal experience and then learn how to communicate it. There are many tools to help us digest and articulate how we feel—journaling, conversations with trusted sources, and therapy are all great ways to connect to our voice. These investments will pay off by giving you a deeper understanding of how your life influences your understanding of yoga and visa versa. Learning how to process and embody your personal experience will give you a deep well from which to share your unique perspective.
Be a Beginner
There’s really nothing like being a beginner to shake up our perspective and engage our attention in a new way. As yoga teachers, being a beginner—at anything—gives us a deeper appreciation for the vulnerability, wonder, and challenges our students experience in our classes every day. Learning something new will also inspire you to look with fresh eyes—to see yoga, the practice, and your point of view as if for the very first time. This fosters curiosity and a willingness to expand our perspective. Finding our voice is a continuous practice because we are always becoming. Patience, consistency, and compassion are essential to navigating the process. As our understanding of who we are expands and evolves, so does our connection with the practice, our teaching, and our students.