Yoga teacher training is incredibly demanding and intense. It requires a significant commitment of both money (let’s say that it is not available to everyone!) and time. Those who have taken the training can confirm that it demands the investment of hours, days and years to become a certified yoga teacher. On paper, the course is complete as it introduces the trainee into the world of yoga through different aspects of it: philosophy, history, anatomy, asana sequences, pedagogy, etc. and yet, there are things that no training can prepare you for. You will need to be open to experiencing first hand to truly understand. Here is a list of 5 true facts about being a yoga teacher that no one will ever tell you.
1. You will struggle to find time for your own practice
The love for yoga might be the reason that has led you to becoming a yoga teacher. You might have falsely believed that you would be practising yoga for hours during the day. If you use your teaching time as your personal practice, you will fail to know the bodies that stand in front of you. Your yoga classes are for your students. Focus on them. Devote the minutes of it to them, their bodies, their energy. Step away from your mat and help them get deeper into the pose, help them open their shoulders, show them when to take a step back to prevent them being from being injured. Be the channel that helps them profit from the goodness of this millenary practice. You will therefore need to – and it’s very important that you do so – set time aside to dedicate it to your personal growth and practice. It will make you a better teacher.
2. A flexible mind is more useful than a flexible body
Everyone knows that flexibility is the main quality of a good yoga teacher. Most, however, erroneously think that this refers to physical flexibility. What differentiates a good yoga teacher from the rest is having a flexible mind. There will be times when you have spent hours crafting the perfect sequence only to find a pregnant woman stepping into your class. You might be all set to lead heart pumping sun salutations, but the energy of the class is asking for a mellow yin practice. Get to know the people who are standing in front of you so that you can adapt to your students. Ask them about possible injuries (avoid asking out loud to respect privacy). Sense what they are not able to tell you. Be mindful of what they need.
3. There will be times when you don’t feel like practising. And that’s ok
There will be times when you would rather stay under your bed sheets than roll out your mat. As a yoga teacher, you are not immune to life events that drag your energy levels to their lowest and send you to your worse self. You might feel sad, or angry, or tired. Whatever way you might feel that disables you from leading a class, try to leave it outside the classroom door. Accept your feelings. Know that it’s ok to feel like you do. Just be gentle with yourself and know that the yoga class that you are about to lead is for your students. Focus on nothing else but them for the duration of it.
4. Don’t take things personal
Perhaps you want to touch the life of students in the same way that your yoga teacher did with yours. You might want to do the same things that you have learnt and that has hooked you into practising regularly and leading a yogic life. However, you must remember that everyone comes into a class with their own story. Don’t take personally the fact that someone leaves before Savasana, or that someone else keeps giving you annoyed looks or that you never see someone after their first class with you. It might not have anything to do with you. Be thankful that whatever is going on with their lives, they took the time to attend your class. Focus on helping students find their own yoga.
5. You will always be a student
There is no graduation from yoga. Those who decide to take the step of placing their mats in front of the class and lead yoga practitioners through sequences instead of moving according to someone else’s instructions of the class, will never stop learning. Not only because the more you know about the incredible yoga world, the more that you want to know, but also because every new class is a new opportunity to learn about your students and their lives and bodies. In every new class you will learn something new about yourself.
Experience will make you better at what you do, so keep absorbing knowledge through your practice and develop as a teacher as much as you develop as a person.