Many people say teaching yoga is one of the toughest and most grueling jobs out there. While there is definitely some truth to this, it is also equally gratifying and moving.
The best part about yoga and teaching this art to others is the ability to experience a new level of spiritual connection and temporarily drift from the happenings of the present. Simply put, yoga is an experience that allows us to explore and push beyond our boundaries.
So, you think you want to be a yoga teacher? Find out all about how to be a great yoga teacher and the required skills that will help you become one.
Any profession or career requires an individual to have a certain set of skills, abilities, and expertise. For instance, a kindergarten teacher will need to be super-patient and comforting because dealing with really young kids needs those kinds of skills.
There is no standard or fixed requirement for one to be an excellent yoga teacher or instructor. However, there are some key traits and qualities that every yoga teacher must have to make their yoga class go from good to great.
The Ability to Connect
As a yoga instructor, you need to be able to connect on a personal level with every student present around you. Regardless of the size of the class, you have to create a certain kind of impact on each person because that’s what yoga is all about. Your students must be able to feel like they belong there and not feel out of place.
Presence and Attention
A major part of yoga boils down to ‘feeling a connection’ and ‘clicking with the teacher’. This means that as a yoga teacher, you must be fully present and attentive to your surroundings, especially the students. In doing so, you should also be able to command the attention of all your students. These individuals watch your every move and as you work the room, you must be able to exhibit a natural kind of confidence that makes your students want to follow every step and every move with diligence.
Since yoga is a slow and meditative process, many people can lose interest within a matter of a few minutes. Your job is to display the kind of energy and enthusiasm that makes them want to learn until the very last minute. There are different kinds of yoga teachers; some might keep the energy levels up by bringing in lightheartedness coupled with subtle humor while others warm your heart with the way they teach.
Either way, you must be able to transfer the zeal, the passion, and the drive to learn yoga into your students.
Knowledge and Preparedness
No one likes it when a teacher walks into the class and has zero ideas about what or how to teach, right? You certainly don’t want to be that kind of a teacher. It all comes down to “knowing your job”.
As a yoga teacher, you must have this burning desire to teach, to inspire, and to impart all the knowledge you have to your students. The second you walk into your yoga class, you must have a plan ready. Knowing exactly what you are going to do can go a long way in terms of building a connection with the students and gaining credibility.
Teaching is one of the most rewarding and satisfying professions. Teaching yoga, in particular, is gratifying and one of the most spiritually fulfilling things that you will ever do. Yoga is an absolute art that greatly challenges you mentally, emotionally, and physically.
In other words, teaching yoga is not for everyone. As a yoga teacher, you will experience many hurdles, challenges, and tough moments throughout your journey. While you don’t need to ‘fit the mould’ of what a yoga teacher should look like, you definitely need to have the resistance and willingness to stick through all the ups and downs of your yoga journey.
If you feel like you are ready to embark on your spiritual and mindful yogic voyage, read through this ultimate, comprehensive guide to help you become a great yoga teacher.
Step 1: Are You Ready To Teach?
Before you choose any profession or career, always ask yourself: “Am I Really Ready?”
This significantly helps clarify your motivations and allows you to gain some insight. Similarly, when going on the path to teaching yoga, there are various questions that you need to answer yourself. For instance, are you ready to deepen your knowledge? Have you practiced enough? Do you have a strong emotional base that teaching yoga requires?
Answering questions like these will help you identify where you really stand. For instance, you will be able to see if you have a basic understanding of yoga in terms of its anatomy, asanas (poses), alignment, the history of yoga, its philosophy, etc.
Since yoga requires one to be emotionally and mentally strong, you must be ready to deliver the kind of compassion, knowledge, and respect to other people because they will look up to you for it.
Step 2: Practice Regularly
It is always a plus to have some knowledge and experience beforehand. Practicing yoga on your own on a daily, regular basis will help you speed things up when you take up professional training. Also, before you enroll yourself in an expensive yoga training program, you need to have some experience and knowledge up your sleeve.
It is highly imperative for you to begin your yoga teaching career with an established foundation. This will really help you when you join a training program in terms of being able to learn quickly, grasp all the key concepts, and deliver due efficiency and diligence. Also, attending a yoga training class will allow you to look at yoga from your student’s perspective once you start teaching it.
Step 3: Research Yoga Training Programs
Before signing up for a training course or program, it is of utmost importance that you carry out thorough research at your end. Considering the ever-increasing popularity of yoga, you will come across a number of teaching schools so finding the right one is paramount to your yoga career.
While you are researching, there are a number of key factors and aspects that you need to keep in mind and duly consider.
Identify Your Style
Yoga is a beautiful blend and combination of different styles and every yoga teacher has a style that suits them best. Being able to identify yours will help you choose the right kind of course or program.
For instance, you might want to specialize in a certain style, say, Ashtanga or Kundalini. Or perhaps, you want to become more of a generalist teacher and wish to teach different styles and techniques each day, ranging from Hatha to Vinyasa and everything in between.
When you find ‘the one’ that suits you the most and resonates with you, you will be able to determine which training facility or school offers exactly that.
Are you looking to learn in a local training institute or you wish to go somewhere abroad to learn the art of yoga?
Training courses will definitely involve expenses, some amount of traveling, etc. You must be able to figure a way out to take up a course while also balancing family, work, and lifestyle.
You obviously want to choose the ‘best of the lot’ from the list of different yoga associations. Each association will offer different types of training programs and have its own set of requirements. The courses will also vary in terms of costs, duration, and intensity. Do your research, be practical, and see what works best for you.
Step 4: Sign Up for Yoga Teacher Training
Once you have carried out all the essential prior research, it is time to enroll yourself and sign up for a yoga teacher training program. This is the time to learn yoga, gain some knowledge, and experience a whole new journey.
This also requires you to consider some key factors in order to make the right decisions for yourself.
You may have shortlisted a few training programs, facilities, or courses by now and are probably about to pick one. Before you make a decision, you should always ask around about the place in question. You can even talk to the teachers, find out a little about them, find out where they did their training from, etc.
You might even want to ensure that the program or course has been certified by Yoga Alliance which will allow you to judge its credibility.
This requires you to know your budget and opt for a program that falls within the stated budget. The options that you may have shortlisted by now will have different charges and costs so it is best to figure out what you can truly afford.
Learning yoga includes a lot of readings on philosophy, history, anatomy, etc. So whether you go for a year-long training program or opt for one that lasts no longer than a few weeks, there will always be homework.
You need to consider your schedule and find a way to align it with the training course before you sign up for one.
Find a Mentor
A mentor will be able to help you best in deciding which training course is perfect for you and one that really suits your style.
Step 6: Get Registered
There is a lot of debate about whether yoga certification is necessary to become a yoga teacher. Essential or not, it is always a good idea to get registered. This is important as most employers prefer credentialed instructors.
Also, once you get registered, you will be able to maintain the required educational standards and also meet the specific professional standards that have to do with teaching yoga. Not only this, but you will also gain some hands-on experience by teaching classes and observing other professional yoga teachers.
Step 7: Put Your Skills to Practice
Once you have finished the basic yoga training and have gotten yourself registered, you must put all the learned skills and knowledge to practice before you head out to officially begin teaching.
Since at this point, you might not have enough experience to get hired at your preferred place right away; there are a few things you can do to gain some prior teaching experience.
Volunteer to Teach
There are numerous fitness events like charity walks or marathons that happen every once in a while. Find out about such events and volunteer to give free yoga sessions to all the attendees. This will greatly help you build a name for yourself and will put out a good word for you.
Offer Classes to Friends and Family
One of the best ways to gain some self-experience is by teaching yoga to close friends and family members. This will also help you gain confidence and prepare you for the real thing.
Target potential interested fitness fanatics and advertise private lessons. Perhaps, create a gym-like setting at your home and start conducting classes for interested groups of people.
Step 6: Make a List of Preferred Yoga Studios
Now is the time when you might want to start teaching at one of your favorite yoga studios. Before that, you must research, make a list, and shortlist a few potential places or studios.
You should also find out all about teaching vacancies at these studios, the kind of yoga instructors they might be looking for, the strength of students who go there to learn yoga, etc.
You are now probably ready to start teaching officially, whether it is at home, a yoga studio, or at the local gym. Start marketing your private classes alongside applying for a yoga instructor job at different places.
This is your opportunity to spread the word around, make a name for yourself, and also build your niche. Find something unique and integrate it into your teaching style. This will help set you apart from the rest and might even give you a definite edge over them.
Always remember, yoga needs a great amount of patience and endurance. The rewards will come but you must give it due time and space.