Don’t we all want to be an inspiring and motivating yoga teacher? Playing an integral role in a student’s journey or supporting a friend or fellow-student on their journey, calls for you to be a true yogi who walks the talk. So what does it take to be an anchor and become an inspirational yoga teacher? Let’s find out.
- Passionate about your own practice: True inspiration shines through real passion. When you are committed and dedicated to your practice, passionate about your progress and keen to continuously learn more about yoga, it will show in your energy and in the way you teach. Explore the different aspects of yoga, and what it is that you enjoy the most (it could be asanas, pranayama, philosophy, meditation, etc.). Consider attending workshops and retreats to dive deeper into yoga, meet other experienced teachers and indulge your passion. When you are passionate about the career path you’ve chosen, you’ll find that you give it your all, without thinking of it as work. As all of this takes an inspiring form, your students will also begin to find a love for yoga. They’ll look up to you, as a mentor and a true inspiration in their own journey. If you’re not passionate about being on the mat, it will show in how you communicate, the classes you teach and in your energy, failing to inspire others.
- Connection and communication: Even after you have become a yoga teacher, staying connected with fellow-students from your yoga teacher training course will motivate you. It’s also empowering and encouraging when you’re regularly connected to like-minded folks on a similar journey as you. You can also think of ways to practice together. If you’re an online yoga teacher with friends all over the world, consider starting a group practice class at a convenient time. Or, if you teach at a local studio, you can practice with other teachers in the studio. Sharing experiences, answering questions, learning new asanas or getting support for postures you find challenging are all the little things that will make you love your time on the mat more.Even with students, take the time to connect with them. Be a good listener, allowing them to share their own experiences and stories. The idea is to create a positive and welcoming space so your students feel comfortable and inspired. This will add to their growth and transformation, and they’ll always remember what an inspiration you’ve been in their journey. Furthermore, be clear in your communication. Provide crisp instructions, modifications and variations, and answer any questions or doubts they have. Ensure they are practicing safely and encourage every effort they make. This will also make you approachable and available to students.
- Continuing education is important: We are all students for life. Regularly upskilling yourself is the key to deepening your knowledge and growing in your own path. Consider taking up workshops such as a Pranayama course, Yoga Nidra, Hands-on adjustments and alignments course, meditation courses, philosophy, anatomy and physiology, etc. There are so many yoga teacher certification programs that not only improve your knowledge, but are also Yoga Alliance certified continuing education (CE) courses (that add to your CE credits). These certificate yoga teacher training programs give your brownie points when it comes to your credibility and authenticity as an inspiring, knowledgeable and experienced teacher.
- Read yoga books: There are numerous yoga philosophy texts that contain pearls of wisdom deeply rooted in ancient times. Light on Yoga, Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Light on Life, The Bhagavad Gita, etc. are just a few such examples. Even during your yoga teacher training course, teachers recommend yoga philosophy books that can add to the depth of your knowledge about yoga. The beauty is that these ancient learnings can be applied even in today’s modern day. When you learn, understand and apply this knowledge, you can teach students to do the same. You can communicate little nuggets of information and inspiring stories from these texts. When students see that you have immense knowledge, with lessons that can teach them how to handle day-to-day situations better, they’ll look up to you more and more.
- Be flexible and open-minded: Yoga makes you balanced, flexible and strong, mentally and physically. Keeping an open mind and staying flexible to students’ needs makes you a better problem-solver and someone who can adapt better. You might find one day that only two out of 10 students showed up for the group class or your private class client canceled a session at the very last minute. Sometimes, someone might come with a bit of back pain or a knee injury. Women in your class might be on their menstrual cycle and may not be able to do all kinds of asanas. In such cases you’ll have to rethink your sequence on the spot to teach practices that are suitable. Stay engaged, communicate the plan for the class, provide room for questions and changes. This will keep you approachable, yet flexible and open-minded. Keep in mind, though, you don’t want to be too flexible such that student’s take you for granted or do not take the class seriously. Finding that right balance is critical.
As a yoga instructor, you are always giving. You have to be mindfully present for students, supporting and guiding them throughout. Take time out to practice self-care. This could be quiet time for breathwork and meditation, a walk in nature, spending some time journaling, etc. When you do things that nourish your soul, you’re less likely to feel burnt out. Your energy remains positive, strong and inspiring for students.
Finally, remember to follow ethics for yoga teachers. Be professional in your behavior and maintain professional relationships. Be punctual for class. Be patient and kind when instructing students. Ask for permission before taking a hands-on approach. These little qualities will show students that you take your role as a teacher seriously. Being an inspiring yoga teacher requires daily effort and commitment. Stay on the path and you’ll find it all comes to effortlessly in time.