Your first 12 months as a yoga teacher – big questions answered

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Following on from my previous article on 200 hour teacher training experience – which you can read here. I decided to give everyone my account of the first year in as a qualified yoga teacher . Whilst everyone’s experience will be different we all share similarities across the board.

Life after your teacher training

Once you have completed the 200 hour TT, you’ve got to go back to reality, back to your past life with great memories, or take the red pill (for you Alice/Matrix fans) and start down the rabbit hole on this yoga journey. This is the first question you get to, whether you went on to your TT to become a teacher or just to deepen your practice, chances are you now have a desire to teach, whether it is part time or full time, you probably want to try it out and see what happens.

The way I always look at decisions I have to make is, if I don’t do X will I look back in a year or 10 years’ time and think I wish I at least tried. If the answer leads me there then I know it is something I must do. For me, I took the red pill and ventured down to wonderland.

Similarities of the corporate world

The yoga world has a lot of similarities to those suits that go into the city each and every day, whilst intentions are probably different, the system has similarities (whilst yogis may not like to admit this).

the main similarities are?

  • Nepotism
  • Networking
  • Auditioning
  • Interviewing
  • Experience

 

Whilst the above may not be as formal as that in other sectors it definitely still exists, however, is it isn’t regulated – there isn’t a body you can go to if you feel you have been unfairly dismissed. There is no health insurance, or a pension scheme.

On the face of it, whilst it looks and sounds great, a deeper understanding is needed, you need to be aware of what you’re entering in to.

This was a sobering but rewarding experience for me, and here is where I started.

You’re going to have to network, audition and somehow get your face and name out there in local studios or online, wherever it may be. Experience is a huge access barrier into studios

How to get experience

Studios time after time told me to come back in a year or 2 years’ time when I have experience. If every studio did this then how are you expected to get experience? I believe studios need to do MORE to nurture and encourage new teachers coming through (which is what we will be doing at yoga soul ;))

Alas, you’re going to have to do certain things to get into a studio and here are my tips from my experience and that of my peers:

  • Go into studios face to face and try and speak to the STUDIO co-ordinator or the person in charge of the timetable and teachers. You don’t want your message you left with the receptionist to be lost somewhere
  • Reach out to your favourite teachers – ask them if you can assist their classes, shadow them for a while. This is a great way to a) improve your adjusting skills b) be in and around studios you might not necessarily go to – and if that teacher needs cover and you have been covering for 6 months, you will know the class and style – you will be the person they call upon.
  • New Studios, newer studios are more inclined to at least reply to your emails or messages in regards to teaching. Seek them out.
  • Start your own class – this should be no1 if I was giving anyone of my friends or students advice – starting your own class in a space is the best way to just get yourself going. Invite your friends, friends or friends, family and ask them to bring people. Price it affordable (BUT DO PRICE IT!!) This means you don’t have a huge gap from completing your TT and then teaching your first class
  • Be a karma yogi, volunteering in exchange for some free yoga, (if you have the time) at a local studio again if they have an emergency and a teacher doesn’t show up while you’re on shift… happy days

Like with almost anything in life, getting teaching opportunities is a lot of right place right time. You just have to be READY when the opportunity comes.

How many classes is enough per week?

The answer to this one is going to vary teacher to teacher, but what I have found with myself and those around me is in the beginning you’re going to have to say YES, a LOT. This will undoubtedly lead to covering so many classes during the week, maybe alongside a full-time job.

At the height, I used to teach 15 classes a week on TOP of a full-time job. (I see you saying WOW in your head) but it’s what I had to do, and depending on how involved you want to be, you will do the same. Furthermore, I would advise to take on as many classes as possible in the beginning while it is fresh (0-6 months) and truly get a feel for your style and approach. You won’t feel tired, you will be running on the adrenaline you get before classes, on the excitement of the unknown, it will be new, and raw to you which is an amazing feeling.

But this WILL wear off. That doesn’t mean to say you will like teaching any less, however you will start to become more experienced, and find some classes are not as attractive due to commuting distance , maybe the early morning or getting home late is killing you and ruining your work/life balance (suddenly you feel you are back in the rat race). Maybe the not seeing your friends, partner or family on weekends is beginning to take its toll.

Something MUST give. And it is going to be the number of classes you teach per week.

A question I ask myself is: do I ever resent having to go and teach this class? If the answer is yes then I know that I need to let it go.

The word resentment doesn’t mean I resent the people, but maybe it’s the fact I had to get up at 5am that I was resenting or getting home hungry all the time after certain classes.

People are going to have their opinions but if you don’t resent any of your classes and you’re happy teaching 15+ classes a week then do you, just be observant and make sure you can give each class the energy it deserves.

Ultimately you will know when enough classes have been taught, you just have to be open, listen and take action.

Part-time or Full-time Teaching

I had a full-time job for the first 9 months of teaching, this allowed me to take the pressure of having to use the money I got from teaching to pay the rent and bills. Personally, I would recommend at least having a part-time job initially. Until you get the time to build up your classes and your reputation within studios.

Once you know you can support yourself teaching full-time then that decision is up to you. Some people are happy with it being just a part-time gig and feel that the pressure might make it seem more of a ‘job’.

The reasons I wanted to teach full time were due to the freedom freelance lifestyle gives you. It takes a while to get the balance, but once I got the balance right, it became an amazing life. Who doesn’t want to get their haircut midmorning on a weekday when no one else can, skipping all the queues 😉

Finding your voice and teaching style?

I have found that after each training, each incredible class or workshop I attend, I take small parts of each to create what I feel fits with what I want to teach. As with life, we are always evolving as teachers, sometimes one profound line can change your whole mindset on a certain pose.

But what I believe every teacher must remember is that you cannot replicate what someone else is doing or has done. Whilst you can be inspired by others, the best way to teach is by being authentic to who you are, to how you practice, to what YOUR intentions are as a teacher. If you don’t, then this will be felt in your classes.

Also, you won’t get this right away, you have to find your way, try new things, new ways of teaching and see what feels comfortable and what fits you. There is no blue print or template you can walk away with that tells you how to teach.

It took me around 6-9 months to really find the way I wanted to teach, but even still I am a newbie teacher in the big picture and still after each training I leave with small changes to the way I teach.

So don’t think you have to stick to a certain way of teaching just because your students are used to that, students come back because of who you are and how you teach rather than what you teach.

This journey as a yoga teacher is INCREDIBLE, and if it is truly a path for you then you will find it to be the same. But as with everything we should go into it with our eyes open to all sides coin.

If you are thinking of embarking on your TT and have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

Namaste

Samuel

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