Neglecting something means that you’re not taking care of it, not taking care of it properly or that you believe you don’t have time for it. Today we’re speaking about three very common things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. It’s kind of an extension of our previous blog about 5 common mistakes (new) yoga teachers make. The things mentioned in this blog are not necessarily mistakes, just things we sometimes forget or neglect. In other words, you don’t make them a priority.
Let’s dive in!
1. Self-practice and self-care
‘I don’t have time to practise yoga and mindfulness, to journal or practise any type of self-care.’
Teachers often justify this with two common scenarios:
- ‘My students are my priority’
When you’re serving others, it’s natural you want to put the needs or your clients or students first. As a result, you sacrifice your own practice and time. You might even tell yourself that the well-being of your students will in turn help your own well-being. Therefore you allow yourself to sacrifice your self-practice and self-care. You convince yourself that your students’ needs are more important than your own, and you neglect them.
- ‘I’m too busy’
Your busy schedule, family life, or other jobs can leave you with very little time throughout the week. So by the time each day ends, you’re desperate for a moment of mindlessness. Watching TV or scrolling through social media for example; anything that doesn’t require mental effort. You could feel the need to somehow escape from reality, even if it’s just for a moment.
These may sound familiar, but you could experience completely different scenarios in your life. Whatever they’re about, the key is that many of them help you to justify not making yourself a priority. What are your scenarios? Do they reassure you that your own practice and self-care are dispensable activities?
Don’t neglect to take care of yourself!
How can you possibly serve others if you’re not taking care of yourself?
Your energy, love and nurture have to come from somewhere. You need the physical and mental resources in order to care for others. Our resources can be things like time, energy, generating a productive mindset, keeping a safe and comfortable home, and a healthy mind and body. All of those things need maintenance and regular replenishing. We are like plants – without the right amount of water and sun at the right times, we can’t hope to grow or give life to others.
Those are some of the fundamental ways in which self-practice is necessary. But as teachers, self-practice and self-care are especially important.
Making them part of your routine:
- gives you the skills and ability to speak from your experience and explain things more clearly
- helps you understand why some things work and why other things don’t, or why certain things are and aren’t challenging, feel or don’t feel right.
- teaches you about yourself, increasing how compassionate you are with yourself and your students
- sets a good example: as a teacher, you’re like a parent or role-model. Students will often copy you and you want to help them make progress. So, show them! Practise what you preach.
So, what could my self-practice look like?
Self-practice doesn’t have to mean a daily dynacharia (ayurvedic routine), 1.5 hour asana practice, 30 mins of pranayama and 30+ mins of meditation.
Self-practice can be whatever helps you to check in with your own senses, recharge your batteries, obtain the energy you need to fully show up for your students. They are daily activities of your choice that you do to be present and find strength so that you can listen and pay attention to your students. Guide and support them on their journey with compassion. Your self-practice could include the obvious things such as asana, pranayama or mindfulness. But it could also be a bath, a walk in the park, reading or listening to podcasts.
2. Centring yourself before class
The second of the three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. And let’s start with a question:
How do you arrive at your class?
Do you live in a busy place and are often stuck in traffic? Do you home-school your children and teach in between. Do you do another job and have meetings just before your class? Do you end up arriving late to your own class?
Many teachers show up to their class at the last minute. Life is surprising and sometimes unexpected things come up just at the wrong moment. But you know the difference between that and simply not leaving yourself enough time to get fully prepared.
It’s so important to reserve extra time before your class starts! Imagine school students entering a classroom before the teacher has arrived. How can the teacher own the place again? To teach your class carefully and confidently, you need a few minutes alone to feel grounded in the space. Teaching begins before the class starts.
Don’t forget that teachers set examples
Tell yourself your class starts 15 minutes earlier to prevent yourself from forgetting or neglecting time for preparation. Get on your mat and move your body. Revise your script. Light a candle, incense, a diffuser, or whatever you like to use in your class. Spend a moment in a child’s pose or sukhasana. Listen to your playlist (make sure it’s not on shuffle).
It’s a moment in which you take the time for yourself to get centred – check in with how you feel! Arrive in your practice. You know it only takes a few breaths to calm down, so make use of your yoga teacher toolbox. This grounding and centering will make you feel more prepared. You’ll probably lead the class feeling less distracted and your ideas will seem more organised. If you aren’t in this ‘space’, your students can sense it too. And you certainly can’t expect them to get into a mindset that you aren’t in yourself.
I bet that as you start your classes, you probably ask your students to arrive on their mat and leave the day behind. So follow your own example and take some time before class to do this yourself!
3. Make your students your priority in class
Another of the three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget is the idea of orientating our classes around our students.
Teaching classes should be about your students. Not you. It isn’t about what you can do or what you know. Good classes are not social media; they aren’t a platform for showing off. Nor are they about if or how well you can do things, or if you know enough. Your classes are not a time for you to prove anything to anyone about you as a teacher.
Whether through self-doubt or self-confidence, your self-consciousness is not only because you care too much about what others think of you. It’s more complex than that. Insecurities, limiting beliefs and an irrational interpretation of yourself can all contribute to self-consciousness. They might be rooted in your childhood and your past, or they could be more recent developments.
Our first experiences as teachers and professionals can also build up a sense of instability. However, we make the class about ourselves if we focus on how we come across, how we present ourselves and our classes, or how much our students like us (or not). Shifting your focus away from yourself and onto the students is something (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget. But doing so can totally change things for our students.
In order to centre your classes around your students in the future, you can:
- Connect with your students before class: ask them about their day, their needs and desires for class. If possible, tailor your class last minute to include things they might find helpful.
- Avoid thinking for your students: we approach everything from our own experience and as teachers we sometimes make assumptions or generalisations too soon. Listen to your students and ask them about their personal experiences or opinions instead of putting words into their mouths, especially when they struggle to express themselves in English
- Observe and check-in with your students while they practise: look at them and give them personalised cues if the class is small enough. If the class is big, give generalised cues but ones that will benefit everyone. Don’t be afraid to get off your mat and check how they’re doing!
- Ask your students how they feel after class: what did they like? What was challenging or difficult to follow? Take their feedback as something to learn from, not to feel judged and bad. I don’t know a single teacher who hasn’t received some kind of negative feedback. Accept that it’s a possibility and see it as a learning point.
These three things (new) yoga teachers often neglect or forget can take time and patience to change. But being aware of them is the biggest step. You might recognise yourself in some of these things – I know I do.
We shouldn’t judge ourselves for forgetting or neglecting these things, but this blog aims to create awareness. Hopefully, they will give you something to think about for yourself and from now on you can notice how you might have slipped into these habits. More importantly, you can now think about how to unlearn them. Take some time for reflection: which of these three things have/do you neglect or forget as a teacher? How can you change things around, starting today?
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