Inner Fire asked me to write a post to guide new yoga teachers after their first training. After I wrote it, I realized that most of the tips apply to seasoned yoga teachers as well—as we develop and gain experience we often need to recommit to an authentic personal practice, reevaluate our dharma (purpose), and reaffirm ourselves after injuries or other road bumps.
The number one principle that helped me get started when I was a newer teacher was:
Have the courage to say yes. Hang in there; if you’re diligent eventually opportunities will arise. Some of them will scare you. Unless you’re legitimately underqualified, say yes anyway.
Years ago, I got a last-minute call to sub for Les Leventhal, one of my mentors, I was cycling home at the end of my day. I wasn’t on the shortlist of teachers authorized to sub for him at the time, but the studio was desperate. I was sunburned as heck, I had already taught a class or two that day, and I was wearing the type of ridiculous outfit I only get to when I’ve procrastinated on laundry as long as I possibly can. I had every excuse to let my insecurities get the better of me and say no to this intimidating opportunity. But, I turned my bike around, swallowed my nervousness as best I could, and stepped up on stage in front of his packed mat-to-mat prime-time class. That opportunity lead to more subbing, which eventually lead to teaching regular class at this popular studio.
As I’ve become more experienced, the most relevant principle has been:
Have the courage to say no: […] Have the courage to say no to opportunities that are inconsistent with your intention […] Trust that turning down incompatible opportunities will free up the time, energy, and space needed for your vision to come alive.
As I’ve taught various styles to different bodies and minds I’ve formed opinions about what I believe to be safe, effective, and ethical. The scope of what I can teach authentically has become smaller, not larger, with experience. I now recognize that many opportunities are immediately alluring, but are ultimately just distractions that suck time and energy away from manifesting my intentions as a teacher (and as a human). It takes courage to turn down offers that immediately feed my ego or fill my pockets, but I trust that saying “no” to the wrong opportunities makes space for the right ones to come about.