The Reality of Becoming a Yoga Teacher

Teaching yoga. This has been a dream of mine for so long, and in April this year it finally came true after I qualified to teach. When people asked me what I did for a living, I could finally say, “I’m a yoga teacher!” Amaze!

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Looking after a baby and studying IS doable!

 

 

I hadn’t, however, given much thought on where and how I was going to teach once qualified. My mind had been so focused on passing the exams that the period after qualifying hadn’t been at the forefront of my mind. The time during which I was studying was made all the more time consuming due to looking after my son, who was around 8 months old at the time. Character building, though!

 

 

 

 

Luckily, a lovely girl with whom I trained recommended me to a yoga instructor friend of hers who needed cover. I started teaching corporate yoga classes in Central London a couple of weeks after qualifying. I was actually teaching! Another friend of mine, also an instructor, regularly needs cover, so I now teach beginners’ classes from time to time.

But this isn’t enough to pay the bills! Getting a permanent slot on a studio timetable is incredibly difficult-sometimes I feel that there are too many yoga teachers for the number of jobs available in Greater London. I look at studio timetables and think, “Hmmm, where would they even put me as a new teacher?!” Still, I put myself out there by assisting at studios and making myself known to teachers’ classes I go to. I have also recently qualified as a Pregnancy Yoga Teacher which will hopefully benefit from being quite niche-y.

I had hired a room at a studio to host a beginners’ yoga course but, due to my poor marketing skills, or perhaps a lack of demand for this in Chiswick where I live, there was not enough to make it a worthwhile venture.

I have a website, I have posted CVs to studios and health clubs; I was naive to think that this was enough to make jobs just fall into my lap! And with another baby on the way, sometimes I think that perhaps I should go back to doing a real job, as I have a family to support.

In hindsight, I would have stayed in my original job and just started teaching around my main job, at least so that I had a regular salary coming in. This is so obvious to me now, but at the time I was so desperate to leave my old job and follow my dream!

So, a few home truths about being a yoga teacher:

  1. This profession does not necessarily make you rich. I meant, I guess it could do if you are lucky enough to become a celebrity teacher, like Kino et al. Otherwise, don’t give up your day job if you already have one. Teach alongside your current job, otherwise the world becomes an incredibly scary and stressful place!
  2. Teaching is tiring. I’ve only ever taught a maximum of one class a day and even this exhausts me! An hour or so of pretty much constantly talking, modifying and assisting students, and creatively structuring a class can be mentally draining. However, teaching can also be exhilarating-just pace yourself and take time to relax!
  3. Teaching yoga can make your self-practice less of a priority-don’t let this happen to you. If I’m honest, I barely practice at home anymore. If I do manage to practice at home, I end up using the time instead to create new sequences for students, or cut it short to attend to my son. I go to external yoga classes in order to practice, which means I have lost my own meditative home practice, that which made me want to teach in the first place. Something I need to work on!
  4. Being a yoga teacher can be expensive. I know this sounds weird, but if you look at Yoga Teacher Trainings, both in the UK and abroad, they are rather pricey. For example, an 200 hour YTT in London costs up to £4500. Pregnancy Yoga Teacher Training can cost around £600. A CPD in restorative teaching can cost up to £500. It is generally expected that yoga teachers keep their trainings up to date, but this can be costly.

Please don’t let my comments put  you off teaching, though! It is such a creative and rewarding profession, as is teaching anything that you enjoy doing yourself. It just pays to plan in advance, especially when it comes to finances. Don’t be disorganised with your head in the clouds like me.

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Despite not being the easiest career to get into, yoga teaching makes me feel like this!

 

Everything considered, I am going to keep promoting myself and continue to train with my favourite teachers, as I know that this is something that I love. And I am making a resolution right this minute to have at least a 15 minute self-practice every day. If I do end up deciding to go back to the ‘normal’ working world, I know that I would have given this my best shot!

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Omg, I taught my first yoga class!

I finally did it-last Monday evening I taught my first yoga class in Central London. I was extra nervous about getting it right as a fellow teacher trainee had recommended me to her friend who needed cover. She told me that the class was a beginner class and that they didn’t usually do flow-however, as my own practice is flow based, I felt that I wanted to make it at least a little bit Vinyasa-ry and teach them something new.

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I arrived mega early (55 minutes in fact) and went through the sequence in my head. The time flew by and before I knew it, I was teaching! It was so strange having people who had actually paid to come to the class, listening to me and literally doing everything that I told them to-talk about pressure!

Nobody’s perfect.

Then my worse nightmare happened-my Bluetooth speaker stopped. I knew that this would be a possibility but never really thought that it would happen. It kind of threw me and I started rushing the teaching. I could barely get off my mat which annoyed me as I hate it when teachers do this.

Eventually I calmed down and started walking around and instructing the poses as opposed to constantly demonstrating them. Well, I was calm until I realised that I was at the end of the whole sequence but still had 20 minutes left to teach-wtf?? How had that happened? The students were already on the floor, so I simply taught them a few more poses such as twists and Bridge, and then made sure that the Savasana was a little longer then planned. At least this way I had time to go round and give Savasana adjustments, something that I personally love to receive.

I made sure that I asked for feedback at the end of the class. I didn’t tell them that it was my first class, as didn’t feel that the students needed to know. Everyone was polite and said that they were very relaxed, but it was hard to tell if they really enjoyed it as people are generally so polite! I will just have to assume that they enjoyed it as they didn’t tell me otherwise-they seemed happy!

Things I have learned from teaching my first class:

Don’t rely on a playlist.

I knew my playlist off by heart and had been using the tracks as a cue on when to start the next section of the sequence-BIG mistake. Imagine my panicked brain when the music simply stopped working!

If your music does work, play it loud enough!

Loud enough so that it doesn’t sound like background music, especially during Savasana and energetic sections. I left the music, when working, playing quietly and it just felt weird.

 Don’t feel that you have to adjust anybody.

I love when a teacher deepens me into a pose, and felt the need to do this to everyone, but I don’t think that they really needed it. I felt that they were just happy to be in the pose. Unless it is an alignment issue, it’s okay to simply instruct.

 Prepare a back up plan.

If you end up teaching too quickly, have a few poses at the ready just in case you need to teach a bit extra. Conversely, if you find that you are running out of time, have in your mind beforehand which poses can be omitted to get the students safely to Savasana.

Keep an eye on the time!

Don’t do a Mel.

Don’t feel like you have to fill the silences.

I’m a talker. I could even hear myself constantly talking, trying to say everything I knew about each pose, but my nerves wouldn’t let me stop. Try not to say it if it isn’t relevant. If everyone is pressing their fingers into the mat in Downward Dog, you don’t need to remind them to do that.

Nerves, be gone!

The main thing, however, that I have learned is that it is normal to have nerves, and in a way this simply shows that you care. Looking back on every new challenge in my life, I was nervous but with experience, these pesky nerves dissipated. In fact, next time I will try to turn that nervous energy into excitement-apparently both emotions cause the same physical symptoms. Who knew?

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I’ll be back to let you know how my next class goes. Please share your experiences of teaching your first yoga class, or any kind of class for that matter!

I Passed!

I did my final practical exam in yoga teaching on Saturday-I wasn’t actually nervous beforehand, but more anxious to get it done so that I could teach in real life! I’d practiced the sequence many times on my husband (who is now mega-bendy) and various friends and neighbours, so I knew it like the back of my hand. I really enjoyed it and was told by the examiner that I would suit Power Yoga and Vinyasa Flow, which are both styles that I am planning to teach anyway.

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Where to start?

The hardest thing now is deciding on where and how to teach. Studios cost a lot and it can be difficult to break-even as a new teacher without an established following. Luckily, a friend recommended me during the course to a teacher whose classes I will now be covering in Holborn. So lucky! I will also be assisting at YogaWest, a boutique and calming studio in Acton. We need more dance and yoga studios in Acton, though! My dream would be to open such a studio, so watch this space…

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What next?

I will be studying to be a Barre Instructor and also specialising in Pre and Post-natal Yoga. I found that there were not enough of these classes when I was pregnant, and if there were, they were always at awkward times of the day or you had to commit to a course. I have a new-found respect for pregnant ladies and new mums-this motherhood thing is hard! Yoga has been my ‘thing’ that helps me unwind and feel like me. Cannot wait to start teaching a fun but relaxing mama’s yoga class!

Yoga Teacher Training-Nearly There!

I’d meant to start documenting my experience with YMCA Fit’s Yoga Teacher Training from Day One but this kind of went by the wayside with a bout of the Flu and an excitable nine-month old at home. I really cannot believe I have managed to come this far with a new baby, having started studying the anatomy component when my son was only a few months old.

And trying to get a daily self-practice in like I did before: way harder when my son likes to roll underneath me when I’m attempting Sun Salutations.

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Just before deciding to ‘join in’ mummy’s yoga self-practice

But somehow, with the support of my gorgeous and selfless husband, plus the best parents ever, not to mention friends who have allowed me to practice on them, I did it! (Yes, I know I haven’t actually done my final exam yet, but I ‘m thinking positively).So with only a couple of weeks to go until my final practical exam, here is the lowdown on the teacher training so far…

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Friendly instructors

Both Jonathan and Annie were incredibly supportive. Jonathan made us laugh every single day, and was so engaging. He knows so much! Both were always to available to answer questions or emails. most importantly, they taught us so much and instilled in us a confidence that we could be the best teacher we could possibly be.

I even had the confidence to teach Headstand, something I had been too scared to do since falling over into our sofa at home. I’m always petrified that I’m going to break my fingers and then somehow die….hhmm.

 

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This London-based blended-learning course was held at OneKX near Kings Cross. The studio was clean with loads of equipment and a nice little vegetarian cafe downstairs. Also two minutes walk to one of my favourite coffee shops, Half Cup. Please go there if you can-the staff are so friendly (so rare in London) and I think that I love their coffee as much as Caravan. I know. Yogis shouldn’t drink coffee. I never said I was perfect…..

Now a bit about the rest…

The e-learning materials were fabulous, but I must say that the support via email or telephone was pretty much non-existent. I felt that once my payment had been accepted, then the YMCA were satisfied that they had done all they needed to. Many of my emails for help went unanswered; staff on the telephone were either rude or had a “couldn’t care less attitude”.

However, overall I would recommend this course. It fits in so well with my lifestyle right now, and I have actually looked forward to each session, which is unusual for me as it is usually rather hard for me to stay focused or engaged. I am pretty excited about our practical exam as I will finally be able to go out and teach for real!  YAY.