Learn what you really need to know to succeed as a yoga teacher.
Maybe you recently graduated from your 200-hour training course (congrats!) or maybe you’ve been teaching yoga for years. Regardless, you’re always able to learn and improve your teaching techniques. What makes a great yoga teacher? The ability to multi-task, connect with others, create a stellar sequence, understand anatomy, whip up an amazing playlist, demonstrate challenging postures, give off inspiring energy, and so much more. Overwhelmed? I am. Let’s break it down into just 6 achievable qualities of a good yoga teacher.
First off, a good yoga teacher should teach you something every time you take his/her class. My favorite teachers are incredibly knowledgeable in the anatomy of the body, the history of yoga, and some deep spiritual stuff. Do you have to be an expert in all of these areas? Absolutely not. Focus in on one area you want to know. Do some research. Theme your classes around these areas.
Have you ever taken a killer yoga class only to find that after class your teacher was nowhere to be found, or was hiding behind the computer at the desk, or seriously intimidated you? A great yoga teacher also acts as a mentor and friend to each and every student.
After your class, stand in an area where students have to pass you on their way out. Put a gentle smile on your face. Try to learn student’s names as they come in and out, and simply tell them to have a wonderful day!
The more you engage with each student, the more likely they’ll come back to your class. Maybe they’ll even want to ask you specific questions or give you some (much appreciated) feedback on your class.
I don’t mean physically flexible. I recently attended a vinyasa class with some incredibly challenging postures, one after another. As I glanced around the room, I could tell I wasn’t the only one physically struggling. A wonderful yoga teacher is observant of each and every student in the class. If the entire class is modifying your postures, seems super frustrated, or is continuously sitting out of parts of the class, please be flexible. Tone down the class any way possible. Throw in a child’s pose, an open-mouth exhale, or a runner’s lunge. Let them rest if they need to.
Same goes the other way; if you have a small class and planned a relaxing flow, maybe ask the students before-hand if they have any requests. You don’t have to change your entire flow, but maybe alter a few postures to include the challenge your students are looking for.
This one is pretty self-explanatory. My absolute favorite yoga teachers seem to be really, really happy to be teaching yoga. These instructors have a smile on their face most of the time, are 100% present during the class, and show that they actually care about their students. A little light from within goes a long way.
If you’re teaching a class and your heart isn’t in it, reflect after class. Was it just this one circumstance, or does this happen often? Perhaps you can revise your sequencing, themes, music, and/or tone of voice to help you connect better with your class. Or maybe it’s as simple as connecting with one or two students. Making little changes will help boost your confidence as a yoga instructor, and getting to know others around you will make your light shine.
This is perhaps my favorite quality of good yoga teachers. If a teacher isn’t curious, you will never learn very much from them. Curious instructors continue to grow in their own practice, their own knowledge of yoga, and their own teaching as they help you grow. Just think: if a yoga teacher always taught the exact same sequence for years and years, what would happen? 1) their students would probably get bored and stop showing up and 2) the teacher would most likely feel very uninspired and would lose their passion for teaching.
I can’t say this enough: keep learning, keep exploring, and KEEP PRACTICING!
- Ability to connect
Finally, the ability to connect with others is huge. You do not (by any means) need to be an extrovert to be a successful yoga teacher. What you do need is enough confidence to approach a student, ask their name, get to know them, and give them hands-on adjustments during class.
If you show up, barely talk to anyone, teach your class, sit behind the computer as students leave, and go home, your students will read you as not wanting to be there. Take the 2ish hours you have in the studio and truly be there. Put your phone away, come out from behind the computer, and learn student’s names. Give adjustments in class - maybe even use essential oils at the end. As they leave class, let them know your name again and that you hope to see them soon.
Being a successful yoga teacher is not an easy task. But with determination and a strong sense of curiosity, you will start to see confidence building and your class numbers rising.
Love + Light!