3 Tools for Yoga Teachers Who Want to Make a Bigger Impact
Today I jumped on the phone with about fifty yoga teachers from all over North America and Europe for a tele-class workshop where I offered the three key tools that I have identified as the most helpful for yoga teachers who want to up their game and make a bigger impact in the classroom, and in their communities. I have been teaching yoga since 2000 and in that time I have done two stints in management at some great yoga studios, as well I have been a teacher of teachers since 2009 and have mentored many newer teachers since that time. In the last twelve years of working as a yoga teacher and mentor I have found that there are some very common obstacles that yoga teachers across the board often get hung up on and I wanted to offer this call as a way of simplifying what I think are the main points of my Online Mentors Course for Yoga Teachers and the most important tools to help teachers make the shift they need to be more engaged and inspired in the work they are doing. If you’d like to listen to the call you can access the recording here, and I’ll briefly outline the three tools in this post.
Have a Plan
Having a plan encompasses having a clear vision for your career, which is guided by your personal mission as a yoga teacher. This kind of clarity allows you to determine what to put your energy into, and what to pull back from, so that you are focused and your students easily receive the messages that you bring to the classroom. Having a plan also includes having a curriculum for your classes. Even if you primarily teach drop in yoga classes, as most of us do these days, you should still have a curriculum for each level of class you teach to ensure that you are regularly cycling through the key lessons on alignment, technique, and philosophy that are most appropriate to that level of students. Having a curriculum will ensure that you avoid the common pitfall of teaching the same thing every time with little variation and will allow your students to get a solid yoga education which will keep them coming back for more. This may seem very simple and obvious but I’m surprised how few teachers have a clear curriculum that they are working from and think it is a major reason why students get bored or fail to progress in their practice. There is more that could be said about this tool but in short having a plan means taking some time to get really clear about who you are as a teacher, what your overall vision is, and what it is you most want your students to receive from you so that you bring that clarity into your offerings. If you don’t have a mission statement or a curriculum think about working on them and see if it doesn’t make a difference in how you are showing up in the classroom.
Budget Your Time & Resources
A lack of organization and clarity is the major reason why so many yoga teachers struggle to stay on top of their teaching schedule while also getting enough time on their own mats and keeping up their studies and this very quickly lessens the effectiveness of their teaching in the classroom. Learning how to manage your time and resources is about learning how to clarify what is priority in any given day/week/month/year so that you make sure you find the time to do what nourishes you as a yoga student and teacher as well as leaving space for the other aspects of your life, which are equally important. This ties right back into the first tool of having a plan, and a clear mission, as these things will help you to determine what is important, and what isn’t. This topic of budgeting resources includes time, and money, and I have seen this to be a really sticky area for many yoga teachers. My thoughts on this are that if we don’t start to examine and explore our relationship with money, which includes how we determine our value, how we spend our money, and what sort of hidden negative beliefs or patterns we may around this subject, then we run the risk of causing more stress for ourselves and bringing that insecurity, fear, or judgment into our relationships with our students. Obviously this entire discussion around time and money management is a big one, and one I go into in much more detail in my course but I bring it up as something for yoga teachers to think about. Simply ask yourself if you think you could use some more support in these areas and how that may allow you to be a stronger, more relaxed teacher as a result.
Create & Sustain Community
Creating community is about building relationships and so many of the same guiding principles for good relationships apply here. Creating and sustaining a vibrant yoga community is about bringing a diverse group of people together around a common vision and in order to do that there needs to be a sense of connection not only to the teachings, but to you as a teacher, and to the other students in your classes. When students experience this type of connection than they become committed to their practice and to their yoga education in a much deeper way and in turn you as their teacher will be encouraged to show up more fully to meet them in their enthusiasm and curiosity. One very simple way to create community is to first and foremost make yourself available. Be at class at least 15 minutes to half an hour before and after so that your students can chat with you, and let them know you welcome that. Ask them their names. Remember their names!! And ask them what they are interested in learning, find out what they come to yoga for and then create offerings based on their interest. For yoga teachers who teach at multiple studios around town it is really important to have a central gathering place online as well where your students can see your schedule, engage with you, and even connect to the other students. A great cheap way to do this is to have a blog where you can offer inspirations from class or your life experience and they can leave comments. Or create a Facebook page. At the very least start a newsletter list so that you can send out a monthly newsletter letting your students know about schedule changes and events so they can stay in touch with what you are doing. And finally plan a few free events or fun fundraisers each year that allow students to connect socially as well as in the context of the yoga practice. I love yoga events and potluck meals! Or try a book club or monthly yoga dialogue meeting where you gather to discuss the teachings. There are many ideas for creating community and I welcome any ideas you may have so feel free to leave your ideas in the comments below so we can inspire each other.
Again though this is a longer blog post this is still just a short overview of what I dive into in my mentors course for yoga teachers where we give a full week to each of the topics of Clarifying Your Mission as a Yoga Teacher, Creating Curriculum and Creative Sequencing, Working With Heart Based Themes and Weaving the Teachings Into Your Asana Classes, Authentic Marketing, Time and Energy Management, Conscious Bookkeeping and Business Practices, and Refining Your Career Vision. As well I have invited some amazing guest teachers who I consider experts on each of these topics to share their wisdom as well. You can find out more about the course here and if it sounds like something you would benefit from I hope you will join me. Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions please feel free to post them.