Fresh out of yoga school, I was armed with business cards, yoga mats and bountiful enthusiasm. I was ready and raring to spread the teachings of the Swami’s, happy to adjust asana’s, preach pranayama and share my love of the ancient art of yoga to the masses.
Little did I know; teaching yoga is hard. So, hard.
I have now been teaching yoga for a little over 8 months, however I wanted to share with you some pearls of wisdom I picked up in my first three months of being an actual real life yoga teacher.
1. Know your worth.
I presumed by offering my classes at a price lower than my competitors in the area I lived in, people would flock to my classes. I offered Facebook competitions to win free classes, discounts and money off vouchers. Did I get any students using these methods? No. Well, maybe a couple, but not the hundreds I had imagined that would be queuing at my door, peeping through the window and hoping for a space even though all my classes had been booked up weeks in advance.
Offering cheaper classes, discounts and freebies makes you look like you don’t value your own product, so why would anyone else? Think about it, how many times have you questioned what the catch is when someone offered you something on the house.
By heavily discounting your class rates you also create the danger of letting others presume you will be happy to work for practically nothing. I had people approach me asking to teach private group classes for next to nothing, studios asking for most what I was earning teaching a class at their venue and students asking for discount on class rates.
Competitively price your classes and don’t submit to the temptation of pricing yourself lower in the belief it’ll up your numbers.
2. Students owe you nothing. (unless they owe you money, then chase that shit up).
I operate a Zero Bullshit Tolerance in my everyday life. I don’t like lies/liars/lying. I’m a big girl, I can take the truth. Be honest, you have the ability as an actual human being to consciously make a choice to tell the truth.
It took me a very, very, very long time to adjust to the fact students owe you nothing. They will book into classes and not show up, tell you how much they loved your class and disappear off the face of the earth and sometimes (big fat exhale…) openly slate your class during the middle of it to the person they came with.
BFRWA (breathe, feel, relax, watch, allow) through that and let it wash over you. It’s super hard not to make a story out of it and start pulling yourself to pieces, spiralling into the dark pit of I’m an awful teacher, I’m horrid at teaching yoga and I clearly look like a humongous fraud and should never have thought it was a good idea to even take the training never mind about teach others.
You will not and will never please everyone, but when that first student approaches you and tells you that something you taught them really resonated with them and they actively made a change in their life because of it, it will be the sweetest thing you have ever felt (and you may sit and cry with relief and happiness in the car for a couple of minutes after class… that’s what a friend told me anyway…)
3. You’re only human.
You will call a hand a foot. You will ask students to lift their chest instead of their chin. You will confuse your left with your right, sometimes becoming so tangled with trying to mirror your students you have to laughingly guide them out of the pose and start again. You will fall, trip, slip, wobble and you will make mistakes.
Because you are human.
So, embrace it. Nobody wants to be taught by a yoga robot.