I remember my first few months of teaching like it was yesterday. Teaching was SO hard and I was SO nervous. I was (by no means) a natural, and in fact I struggled with just about every aspect of teaching. With that said, I want to offer you my empathy and compassion if you are a new yoga teacher, but more importantly, I want to offer the advice given to me by my teacher Maty when I started teaching in 2002.
- Write out one well-rounded sequence for a level 2 yoga class. Make the sequence clean and simple – You don’t need to get fancy or creative quite yet. Be able to adjust it for a lower level and upper level class. This comes in very useful for those all-level (or open level) classes as well.
- Only teach what you are comfortable teaching. It took me 2 years to teach inversions! Only choose poses you do in your own practice.
- Keep your instructions basic. Be clear and precise.
- Teach to what you see, not just to the class in the front of the room. Try to connect with your students at least a few times. Ask yourself, “are my instructions working?” “Are the students safe from injury?” “Are people paying attention?”
- Pick a theme for this one prepared sequence and teach it 3 different ways. In other words, teach it as a “hips” class then a “shoulder” class then a “hamstring” class.
- Breath! For many of the teachers you know, love and respect, it was probably terrifying for them at first. Teaching is a practice too! Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Learn and grow from each experience. Sometimes it can only get better! We have all been in your shoes.
- Try to bring in just a bit of your personality. To just list instructions can sound like a robot. Crack a joke or share a little something – not your entire life story, just perhaps a little tid-bit that pertains to your own experience in the pose you are teaching?
- A yummy savasana adjustment goes a long way. I’d get good at those…
- Don’t be in a rush. A smile and eye contact goes a long way.
- Once you start to reminisce about being a new teacher (that time will arrive) remember how you felt and pay it forward. What worked for you during this time? Help another new teacher out!
Jesse Schein believes that yoga allows others to tap into their inner strength, connect more with themselves and LAUGH! In Jesse’s classes, she teaches people to let go of the things that are holding them back and build courage and kindness towards themselves and others. Visit Jesse’s website, take Jesse’s online yoga classes or public classes at YogaWorks in Santa Monica, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter.