I Didn’t Want to be a Teacher.

I’ve been teaching fitness and yoga for about 5 years now but I didn’t always have a desire to teach. Even after going through my first training, I still didn’t think it was for me. And to be honest on certain days I let Imposter Syndrome take over.

Well, that is a surprise isn’t it, since I absolutely love teaching fitness & yoga. But hear me out, I’m going to fill you in on my thoughts because maybe you feel the same way – and those feelings are totally normal and valid!

The Day to Day

As a current teacher, there are many days where I do not want to teach. And I hear the same from my other teaching friends! Showing up to a class as a student is a totally different energetic experience than teaching a class. Instructing a class is asking you to mentally, physically, and energetically be in a place that some days you’re just not! But that doesn’t mean you hate teaching or that you should stop.

Just this Monday I had a massive stress migraine from a weekend of unexpected stressful situations (aka almost losing my wallet and a broken phone) but had an obligation to teach my Monday night yoga class. I could’ve potentially requested a sub but felt I could still teach if my migraine didn’t get worse. I showed up and was fully transparent with my students that the class would be led a bit slower pace and we’d be diving into a long, juicy savasana at the end.

The students LOVED it. From the combination of my transparency and matching my energy with the style of class I would lead created the correct environment for a great class. Then I went home and went to bed before 8PM.

But this doesn’t always happen – there are many classes where I’m totally off. Where I am just not mentally and energetically ready to teach that day. This is going to happen but most days I still need to show up for my students so I’ve learned a few of my own tricks over the years:

  • Take a moment to step away from everything. Maybe that is in the bathroom, your car, or on your couch but you take a few minutes to yourself and focus just on your breathing.
  • I then choose a mantra like “I love teaching”, “I want to show up for my students”, “I want to lead an awesome class”. It can be as simple as that and then I begin to repeat that to myself as I’m driving to the class.
  • I normally have a coffee or pre-workout with me that I drink during my drive and I’ll choose an upbeat playlist for fitness or a yoga flow soundtrack if heading to yoga so that I begin to get in the right mindset.
  • I always aim to get to the studio with plenty of time to set up my space so I am fully ready for my students. If there is enough time, I’ll run through my class sequence to make sure the moves and cues are really top of mind before we begin class.

The Beginning

I shared a bit about my journey into teaching with my last post on the Benefits of Barre but before that I didn’t think too much about becoming an instructor. I was inspired by community classes and the teachers but thought that could never be me.

I’m enneagram 7 and really just took a leap into the Barre training years ago without actually considering it too much & the same happened a few years later when I was living out in San Francisco and signed up for my 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training. But even as I was going through the trainings, I was overwhelmed by thought of actually leading my own classes. It’s super intimidating starting out because you’re being trained by instructors that have years of experience and you think to yourself “I want to be just like them!” But you’re simply not because you’re just starting out. You don’t have the years yet. Here is the secret though, you’re in the fun part!

I’m a hardcore perfectionist and I wanted to start out as the perfect teacher as well. I always want to impress people with whatever I do and I would like to believe that is most of us. Who wants to fail and have people see our mistakes? But when you’re starting out as a teacher, you’re going to make A TON of mistakes! And you’re going to continue to make mistakes, say the wrong thing, not give the best adjustment, or verbal cue, or even the right peak pose for every single student in your classes. What I decided to do a long time ago was to embrace it. Embrace all the awkwardness, all the goofiness, and all the funk because these experiences is what will lead you to your true teaching personality.

Maybe you’re the super soulful, insightful teacher or fun, goofy teacher or challenging teacher. And you’ll find your style with each class you teach. You just have to start.

The Now

I might not have wanted to always be a teacher but I can say I’ve always had a passion for fitness and connecting with others. For now, my barre and yoga gigs fill this cup for me. It might not be every day, week, or month that I feel inspired as a teacher but I always feel so grateful to be a part of each students health journey and that is truly what keeps me showing up.

If you’re going through a time in your teaching, maybe you’re a few years in or just starting out, and are feeling overwhelmed or uninspired, I’m always here to chat. And remember that with anything in life there are always ups & downs!

NYT + Corepower: My 2cents.

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This past Friday, the New York Times released an article about the state of Yoga Teacher Trainings, specifically about Corepower. Being someone who recently just went through YTT (not through Corepower) I had mixed feelings about this discussion. So, I wanted to open up the conversation with all of you. Specifically discussing the popularity of those going through training and the recruitment studios are doing to hold these training programs. I will not be touching on pay.

The article states that “for every current yoga teacher, there are two trainees.” I personally think this is amazing! The more we can spread the love of yoga the better. But the article spins this point to state that studios are having the discussion that students need to take training to take their practice to the next level. Signing up for YTT is your own choice, just like how you choose to use your time in any other situation. You wouldn’t go to a Crossfit class if that doesn’t fill your cup and vice versa for Yoga classes and training programs. YTT is a significant investment of not only money but time. I think the pressure needed to force someone into training would also be pretty significant since it is not a decision you make on the fly.  If you feel you’re being pressured at a studio to sign up for their YTT program, then maybe it is time to consider another studio.

Another argument is that training programs are being held at studios that aren’t actively hiring teachers. When you sign up for training, you’re signing up for exactly that. The rest of the work after training is on you. Continued teaching practicing, networking, marketing yourself, educating yourself, etc. One opinion I came across on this topic was comparing YTT to College. After college graduation, some individuals have guidance with a job placement but not everyone does. After YTT, some individuals might have connections for teaching opportunities but not everyone does.

We don’t expect to get our degree and then walk into a six-figure paying job the very next day. We need to put in the work to finesse our skillsets as well as determine “is the career path for me even?”

After training, we can’t expect the responsibility to lead students in a class where we’re instructing them on what to do with their bodies. Being an instructor myself, this responsibility is powerful and insanely scary.  Students normally walk into a class fully trusting the instructor that they know what they are talking about. As a yogi or fitness student, you can probably remember instances where you realize the instructor is not as well informed as you believe they should be to be in their position. No amount of instructor insurance can justify not being educated enough to lead a class. This is why further education, training, and teaching practice is needed before being hired as a professional instructor.

Lastly, the article touched on the business decision studios make to hold these training programs. They may partially hold these training programs to bring in revenue but they are also putting on retreats, workshops, and events on top of classes. It is not their only means for revenue as a studio even if it good be a large portion of it. Hopefully, these studios are still holding educational training programs that provide their trainees the material and information they need to guide intelligent sequences and cueing. If their programs are merely to bring in revenue, then I would assume these programs will not last long. Also, if these programs are recognized through the Yoga Alliance, the process to be able to lead trainees is more rigorous than the YTT training itself. I would like to think someone wouldn’t go through the whole process for the revenue alone.

If you are interested in signing up for a training program, but you fear this might be the case with the studio you’re considering going through, do your research to make sure you are getting your money’s worth! There are plenty of different training opportunities out there that you do not need to limit your decision making.

If you have strong opinions on the NYT’s article or YTT, I’d love to hear them! You can share with me in the comment section or email me at onedreamyyogaflow@gmail.com.

Namaste.