Teaching yoga is one of the most satisfying things you can do. You have the privilege of empowering people to make positive changes in their lives. Here are the top three things to consider should you commit to become a teacher.
TEACHING YOGA ELEMENT #1: FIND AND LEARN FROM A TEACHER YOU RESONATE WITH
Having a guide or mentor is the first step to teaching yoga. There are many ancient stories about the guru-disciple relationship and the sacrifice involved. It was a serious and lifelong commitment.
Today, the dynamic between yoga teachers and a student has changed. The student has many options and can easily “change their minds”. The climate feels more like shopping.
Perhaps you will have a deep inner knowing when you meet your teacher. Perhaps you will need to do more research. In either case, I suggest that you hold the possibility of dedicating yourself to all the teacher has to offer.
Not all teachers have the same ability or give the same practices. Some will be more impactful than others. Students need to find a teacher that resonates with them.
The teacher is there to point out the territory. They help the student to see themselves more clearly, overcome turmoil and live fully. They offer methods to aid the process.
Effective teachers lead by example. They may not even have a literal answer to your questions. They transmit the deeper intent of yoga. You will absorb the right lesson at the right time. It is the students’ responsibility to apply the methods and reflect on the teachings.
“In the beginning an aspirant seeks some support from outside. That support comes from a teacher. When the aspirant starts meditating honestly, then their own Self is revealed in the form of a guru or teacher.”
-Baba Hari Dass.
TEACHING YOGA ELEMENT #2: BE A DEDICATED STUDENT
Yoga is an immense topic that is: intellectual, physical, personal, and spiritual. There is so much to learn and experience. There are many ways to approach yoga (bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, & karma yoga to name a few), all of which require that the aspirant dedicate themselves to their particular path in order to make progress.
Being a yoga student looks like a regular personal practice that consists of asana, pranayama, meditation, scriptural study, attending classes, and making time for workshops and other forms of focused study. This will give you a strong foundation for teaching yoga.
Oftentimes, consistency of practice is more important than duration.
This is a very simple idea, however, it can be equally challenging to implement. Practicing a little each day, or on regularly scheduled occasions is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice will build momentum over time, one brick at a time.
Yoga study, as with other topics requires both regularity and a natural curiosity or inclination, in addition to a sincere desire to learn more. Build your practice over time, and find joy in it as well.
Being a dedicated student is the foundation for becoming an effective teacher if one decides to go that route. Here are the qualities we look for in a student in our training.
Learn the Craft of Teaching
Being a confident teacher is not a given. As with learning any craft, at first, it can be awkward and unfamiliar. Inevitable questions arise such as: where do I position myself? how do I demonstrate? how do I find my voice? what happens when many different skill levels show up in the same class? and many other questions.
It takes dedicated guidance and personal practice before one carries themself with composure in the classroom. Fortunately, knowing what to look for as a teacher and how to get your message across is not a random process.
There are patterns to how a class is put together, and how to present your lesson effectively. At Axis, we teach you the operative principles to make you a competent teacher so you can share your love of yoga with others in a way they will understand.
TEACHING YOGA ELEMENT #3: DEVELOP A STRONG PERSONAL PRACTICE
Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress. It also helps to have an astute teacher. Want to master the violin? You will need to practice. Would you like to learn to paint? Same story, practice. If you want to advance in yoga, you must practice it.
Yoga is an ongoing project that we take with us wherever we go and can apply it to all circumstances. Spending formal time practicing asana, pranayama and meditation will accelerate your growth. The Sanskrit word sadhana refers to one’s dedicated spiritual practice, namely meditation.
Sadhana is an ongoing project and it’s tinkering in the lab of your Being on a daily basis. It is best to proceed at a sustainable pace rather than with “fits and starts.” Even doing 10 minutes of meditation a day is an excellent start. Practicing asana for 20 minutes is also beneficial. Ideally one can dedicate a half hour or more on a daily basis. It does not have to be all or nothing.
Benefits of Practice
There are many short and long-term advantages for starting a spiritual practice and many of them are scientifically validated. These include better sleep, fewer trips to the hospital, pain management, patience, less overall fear, and an improved happiness index. Many of these are key indicators for a fulfilling life. None of them require anything external because they are all completely accessible and free.
Perhaps you are asking yourself: How do I develop a home practice?