After mentoring hundreds of new yoga teachers, I can tell you most share common fears and concerns when they’re thinking about joining a yoga teacher training program. And I’d like to dispel a few of them now.
#1 | Fear of . . .
I’d like to take a sledgehammer to this fear because it’s sooooo unnecessary, yet still, very real to so many potential yoga teachers. It pops up over and over. On the phone with individuals seeking more information. On their faces as baby teachers stare back at me in the first few meetings of a new session of training.
And it’s takes me a good three months to shatter this fear once and for all. . .
(Cue scary music)
“I can’t do all the poses.”
Easy to understand why this is such a big deal for people.
When you’re surrounded by glossy magazines, Insta-perfect pictures, and images depicting ultra-skinny women wearing very little clothing contorting into the most freakishly beautiful postures. . .
It’s challenging to think of Yoga as anything else.
Yoga versus Posture
When I say YOGA, you think POSTURES.
The word YOGA is a Sanskrit wording meaning “to yoke” or “to unite.” The fancy Sanskrit word for poses is ASANA. Two totally different words. Two totally different meanings.
In the PRACTICE of yoga, we seek to reach a state of being (a state of union between us and the Divine), and there are many, many ways to achieve that state of being.
Poses (or asanas) is simply one method to get you there.
Through asana-yoga, the physical movement helps you transition from the 0 to 60 busyness of your life into much needed quiet and stillness. Postures clear you mind and muscles of distractions, fatigue, stress, tightness, soreness, anxiety, and a whole lot more.
In a culture and country that hardly takes vacations, or even breaks, and sleeps like crap, your mind and body desperately seek a pit stop from the Autobahn of your daily life. Asana-yoga gives us physically-oriented Westerners a place to start.
But postures are not the sum total of yoga.
ok, but I still can’t do all the poses
I’m going to let you in on a little secret:
Most students can’t do all the postures either.
In reality, the majority of people who want to learn yoga postures looks more like YOU than the contortionists posting on social media. And those same people would be far more comfortable taking a yoga-asana class from YOU.
Understanding the basic postures (and even how some of the advanced ones work) is a great start to teaching yoga, but it’s not the only focus. A good teacher instructs her participants into the safest poses for them. But guiding someone to breathe deeply, or finding quiet time in a hectic day, are also qualities of a good teacher.
#2 | Fear of public speaking
Public speaking causes fear in a lot of people, and not just those who want to teach. So how do you overcome this? Little by little? Or by ripping the Band-aid off? Or whatever latest and greatest tool there is for speaking in public without a quivering voice and shaky hands?
For me, teaching yoga has always been different than public speaking. (I’ve done both). Of course, I had butterflies the first few classes I taught, but they usually flew in formation after the first ten to fifteen minutes. In public speaking, all eyes are on you with no distractions until the conclusion of your speech.
In a yoga class, there may be eyes on you, but soon they’re focused on moving their bodies and following along with you.
#3 | Fear of inadequate knowledge
The people you’ll most likely be in front of are beginners. Newer than you. With a blank slate in their heads for yoga. You don’t have to be an expert to teach those only a couple of steps behind you.
Adults are nothing more than toddlers in big bodies with a tiny bit more impulse control. If you’re son or daughter sat in front of you and asked, “Mom, show me some yoga poses,” with delight, you’d roll out some mats and get busy. And you probably wouldn’t chant Sanskrit or pick the most complicated postures.
You’d keep it simple and clear.
The advice is the same for adults: don’t confuse them with the fancy stuff. Keep it basic.
#4 | Fear of not being perfect
If you wait until you’re perfect, or your teaching is perfect, you will never teach.
I encourage imperfection. The wobbling and falling over. The tongue-ties and the giggles. Forgetting a side in a sequence or missing a whole section in a lesson plan.
Like it or not, you’re a model for your participants. If you’re always worried about being perfect, or looking perfect in the poses, that’s the vibe your classes will pick up on. When you learn to be okay with your humanness, you demonstrate to those who are looking up to you, that it’s okay for them to be human too.
Being human = being real and vulnerable.
Don’t let it stop you
We all have fears, and they’re natural especially when you’re first starting something new. But you have something so many others don’t. You know how to breathe and move your body through the discomfort until the unknown becomes known.