Just weeks after graduating from my first 200-hour teacher training in 2013, I lost my day job.
“Here I go again,” I thought. Unfortunately, this was nothing new to me. It was the 3rd job I lost in a row, in a span of just 2 years.
I fell hard. My confidence plummeted to new depths.
Thankfully since teacher training, my yoga practice really started to blossom. Yoga was my saving grace; my feather bed to soften the fall. I worked diligently to apply my new learnings in an effort to pull myself out of the dark hole.
It took months in therapy of all kinds to rebuild my confidence and to feel worthy again. But I slowly picked up the pieces and I was able to build a solid foundation from which to regrow.
Meanwhile, I was offered my first yoga teaching gig. Whew.
Naturally, nerves began to sink in. Doubt littered my thoughts. Am I good enough? Will students trust what I have to say? What if I forget my sequence? Is anyone going to show up to my class?
I saw myself repeating old mental patterns of self-doubt and fear driven thoughts. I did not want to fall back into that dark headspace.
Quieting that inner voice was difficult, but crucial to becoming a confident new yoga teacher.
Building confidence as a yoga teacher takes time. It may come and go and feel different from day to day, but the important piece is, you keep moving forward.
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Time to share 5 strategies that helped me build (and maintain) my confidence as a yoga teacher!
1) Get Out Of Your Own Way
Befriending our innermost selves can be a difficult task. But in order to get out of your own way, it’s imperative you dig deep and realize you exist in the background of your thoughts, not in them. You are not your thoughts.
Many of us have self-limiting beliefs we repeat in our minds over and over again. I’m guilty of it too. Often times, this is done subconsciously, so it’s not even in our immediate awareness. The habitual patterns built around these beliefs and negative self-talk creates a barrier between you and success.
Perhaps your common self-limiting beliefs are based in fear, as mine were. Fear of not being good enough, fear of failing, fear of what others may think, the list goes on. Beginning to understand your habitual patterns is the first step in finding the freedom to rise above and choose positive thoughts.
As all things in life, it’s a practice. But this practice will undoubtedly help you build the confidence you need to quiet the inner voices and actively choose a more productive path in thinking.
I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.
-Hafiz of Shiraz
Pro-tip: When negative or uncomfortable feelings arise, acknowledge them, but know it’s your CHOICE whether or not to listen to them.
2) Be Okay With Not Knowing
A common misunderstanding of being a confident yoga teacher is that you need to know everything. I’ve often thought that if I had more training or another certificate under my belt, it would help me be a better and more confident instructor.
Additional education doesn’t hurt you, but it also doesn’t necessarily make you any better. It’s what you do with that knowledge that counts…
The truth is, time alone on your mat can fuel this knowledge in a way books and trainings cannot.
While we want to be prepared to answer our students questions, admitting when we don’t know something serves our students (and our self) best.
It takes humility and vulnerability to admit we don’t know something. Recognizing your individual limits as a yoga instructor is crucial in the progression of your teaching. Take that opportunity to explore the question… learn, grow, and understand.
Yoga is an endless practice of learning and unlearning.
Be okay with not always knowing the answer. Your students will trust you more if you’re able to admit when you don’t know something.
3) Prepare, Prepare, Prepare!
Okay, I’ll admit something… I often operate best when I just “wing it.” It’s kind of been my forte after all these years.
But when it comes to teaching yoga, this doesn’t fly.
My best classes are taught after I’ve spent quality time preparing for them.
This means time on my mat, taking notes from other instructors, taking workshops and putting together a playlist. The more time I spend preparing an intelligently sequenced class with a playlist to match, the more confident I feel when I comes time to instruct. I even have days where I find myself cueing in the shower and in the car. It pays off!
4) Maintain Your Own Personal Practice
Once you start teaching yoga, especially if you’re determined to make it a lasting career, it can be difficult to find time for your own practice.
In my experience, the more I’m on my mat, the better I feel when I teach. I am more confident all around.
Carve out the time to get on your mat. Make it a priority and it will nourish your teaching in so many ways.
Confidence will continue to build from having an complete understanding of who you are, and this happens with more time on your mat. So take the time to get on it. Explore what yoga feels like in your body and mind, and you’ll better be able to communicate and guide students to that place.
5) Take What Works and Leave the Rest (aka Be Real)
As a new teacher, it’s easy to just regurgitate what your fellow teachers say and teach in the classroom. But guess what? Your students can tell when you’re not being authentically you.
With a saturated market of yoga teachers, it’s more important than ever to be yourself! Being authentically you is the best way to attract and keep students in your classes.
Take what works and leave the rest.
If there’s a certain cue or theme they use in class that resonates, take it and make it your own. You will always be unique/authentic in the way you internalize what you’ve learned, and therefore in the way you deliver that knowledge.
If you’re going through a difficult time outside of teaching, infuse what you’ve learned from that experience into your classes. This is one of the most powerful ways to connect with your students and make your classes authentic.
By repeatedly showing up as 100% you, you will form deep connections with your students. Don’t be surprised if your students keep coming back for more 😀
Your turn! Have you struggled with confidence as a yoga teacher? What are some tips you can share to help build your confidence?