So, you graduated from your 200-hour yoga teacher training. Congrats!
You were probably told in training that your learning does not end with your certification. That is so true. What you may not have expected is that it includes learning about yourself.
I have taught and mentored thousands of teachers throughout their teaching careers, and I have noticed some common tendencies among newer—and nervous—teachers. Consider these self-awareness tips as you reflect on your teaching style and constantly learn how to become better at effectively guiding others through their practice.
Common mistakes yoga teachers make
1. Be succinct
As a new teacher, you tend to be excited about all the things you have learned and want to share them all—rightly so. However, when you try to impart all of the information you know in a 60-minute class, it can come across as wordy and overwhelming. Instead of trying to teach everything you know, simplify your teaching to a single theme or a couple of primary points. There will be another class in which you can share something different.
2. Notice your verbal tics
We all have words that we say again and again and again on autopilot. I realized I repeat “good” too frequently in my classes when someone reached out and mentioned he loved my classes but the “goods” were annoying. Common tics include “good,” “beautiful,” “nice,” and the usual fillers such as “um,” “so,” and “like.” The best way to correct your tics is to remain aware and hear yourself start to say them in the moment and opt for something different or say nothing. Not sure what your tics are? Record your class on your phone or on Zoom and listen to it later. You’ll hear them.
3. Watch your body language
Notice how you sit or stand throughout class. Does your posture reflect how you want to be perceived? Notice how you sit at the start of class or move through the room. Are you slouched? Are your arms crossed? Are you doing a weird thing with your hands? If you teach in a space without mirrors, ask a friend or fellow teacher to watch your body language during class and share what they observe.
4. Look at your students
When you are nervous, it’s common to pace back and forth at the front of the room and recite a script, which makes it difficult to observe what your students are actually doing in response to what you are saying. This in turn makes it hard to teach what your students actually need. Instead, find a few different “perches” in the room to observe your students from all different angles, then methodically move among the mats to get a closer look and offer individual feedback. When you observe what your students are doing, then you can respond accordingly.
5. Be humble
There is no yoga teacher who knows the answer to every question. As a newer teacher, though, it can be tempting to fudge answers to students’ perplexing questions that might not actually be true in order to appear knowledgeable or “all-knowing.” Do not pressure yourself to answer a question you do not know. Instead say, “Let me get back to you on that,” and research the topic or consult with a teacher you respect. Keep in mind, you are not qualified to answer any questions related to identifying the cause or cure of any physical concern. Explain this to the student and advise them to consult with their physician.
6. Share to relate
Newer teachers tend to lean toward oversharing or undersharing in class. The sweet spot is right in the middle: don’t be so detached from your own process of yoga that you never let people in, yet do not share overly personal things, including dating disasters and family drama. The sweet spot is personal and relatable.