What it’s like to be a Yoga teacher

I’ve only been teaching Yoga (part-time) for 8 months but over that time I have taught more than 120 hours of classes which is enough to really know what you’ve let yourself in for.

I’ve experienced some major highs whilst teaching but the job is remarkably more challenging than I anticipated. So sticking with it requires serious passion and respect for the practice and a commitment to constantly build your knowledge.

But as with all things in life… if it was easy, it wouldn’t be worth doing! And I’m starting to realise that the things that make it so difficult are the very things which are forcing me to grow.

In my desk job – it’s all about me. As a Yoga teacher, it’s all about others.

So you might be wondering when I’m going to get to the point – what makes it so hard?

I can only speak on behalf of my own experience, a lot of which has resonated with other recently-qualified teachers I have spoken to.

Firstly, I used to think Yoga teachers just glided into class without preparation. Just like when a plumber turns up to fix the pipes. But there is so much more behind the scenes. Aside from building and developing the sequencing, if you want to deliver a great class, there is a time-intensive process to commit the philosophy and wider knowledge to memory so you can share more than just the physical practice with the class. The learning does not stop at the end of teacher training. It only just begins! In that sense, being a Yoga teacher is just like being a student.

Secondly, the energy it requires if you’re properly paying attention to your students is physically and emotionally draining. Teaching Yoga is like being on stage, playing yourself. There’s no break and nowhere to hide! Sixty minutes is a long time for a monologue. This is a vastly different way of communicating than I have experienced before. And it’s teaching me a lot. You sort of have to have something to say, and then you have to have the confidence to say it. People expect you to lead, and they don’t teach you leadership in school. It requires inner confidence and emotional resilience, in my experience.

Teaching Yoga is like being on stage, playing yourself. There’s no break and nowhere to hide! Sixty minutes is a long time for a monologue.

And this is precisely why teaching forces me to grow. Because you have to put the needs of your students ahead of your need to withdraw. When people turn up for class, in my view, they deserve you to turn up with the best you can give. In this way teaching is service and developing this mentality has just fundamentally made me a better person. In my desk job, to a much greater extent I can manage tasks around my energy. If I’m feeling reticent, I’ll read the reports and send the emails. When feeling more assertive, I’ll pick up the phone and talk to my clients. And crucially, I gain or lose from the quality of my work. The point is, in my desk job – it’s all about me. As a Yoga teacher, it’s all about others. You just have to show up.

In this way teaching is service, and developing this mentality has just fundamentally made me a better person.

All that surmounts to the fact that, with all things, work ethic and attitude matter most. So in that respect, being a Yoga teacher is like lots of other jobs – if you want to succeed, give more than you get and be happy about doing so.

But unlike lots of other jobs, it gives you the opportunity to change the world. Because Yoga minimises mental and physical suffering, and it’s safe to say the world is full of that.

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