Becoming a yoga teacher is a transformational experience. You find out so many things about yourself, about teaching and about life that you wish you had known before. You learn some of the biggest life lessons – think of all the new knowledge, practices and interesting people you(’ll) meet. It also requires introspection. In this blog, I’m sharing the things I wish I had known before becoming a yoga teacher. It includes the lessons I’ve learned on this journey. I want to give you the chance to learn these lessons before teaching yoga, so that you can navigate your own journeys more quickly than I did.
I hope that if I share these things, you can save yourself the some time and worry that I couldn’t!
There are some things you need to know…
- I was embarrassed of my teaching voice, which stopped me teaching for an entire year after completing my YTT.
- I didn’t know how to express myself in English as a teacher. Especially when speaking about anatomy and technicality.
- As I didn’t value my ability and skills, I didn’t have the courage to apply for a job at a yoga studio. I didn’t see the point because I wasn’t a native English speaker.
- After my YTT, I dealt with extreme self-doubt and frustration. I felt incapable of teaching yoga, despit it being my passion. And I believed students would not like me.
- After obtaining my 500YTT, every mistake I made caused me to doubt my knowledge and experience. I didn’t have the mentality that helped me use mistakes as an opportunity to advance.
Confidence is one of the biggest teaching lessons
Unfortunately, I learned these lessons after I had already started teaching. And I was too busy to see them for what they were. Now I can see that these experiences display insecurity, low self-esteem, and perfectionism. They suggest I put myself under a lot of pressure to reach unrealistic goals. Maybe my expectations were too high.
But I think my experience is a common pattern in most other (non-native English speaking/multilingual) yoga teachers.
Please remember that your insecurity, fears, self-doubt and low-esteem are most often not because you don’t have the necessary teaching skills. For example, I already had excellent skills and knowledge for teaching yoga. And I had been developing them for a long time. The problem was I didn’t have the confidence to take opportunities to help my career take off. I needed more confidence to develop as a teacher, because without it, I couldn’t deal with challenges, like pursuing teaching practice as a newly qualified teacher. This delayed my learning of the most important lessons of my life.
I wish I had learned some of these lessons before teaching, knowing there were some personal issues I needed to deal with before I could expect myself to feel good about teaching.
Sometimes you need to try and overcome scary and difficult things without having learned these lessons, in order to progress in your career. But how can you do that if you feel the way I did about myself? Don’t underestimate the importance of learning to be confident!
We often say to ourselves I wish I had learned that before teaching yoga! ‘I wish I had known that earlier’
Throughout our lives we often have moments where we learn something new and it makes us think back to our past. You reflect on past moments and comment on how things would have been easier, or decisions would have been different if you’d known then what you know now.
I know that for me a lot of my difficulties in the past were a result of my childhood and my learning experience at school. When I look back now, I sometimes wish I could go back to those moments and tell myself what I was going to learn all these years later. I wish I could reassure myself and teach myself why I was finding everything so impossible. I wish I could teach myself important lessons to know before teaching, before going to university, and before sitting any high school exams.
Now, I want you to reflect on any moments in the past where you’ve had a realisation and thought ‘I wish I had learned these lessons before teaching yoga!’
‘Go to theContinuing Education Membership and start your trial to receive some journal questions that’ll help you reflect’.
Learn these lessons before teaching yoga!
Please, let me tell you the lessons I wish both you and I had learned before beginning teaching. You’ll save yourself a lot of time:
- You can learn. And that when you feel you ‘can’t’, it’s often because you aren’t getting what you need, like from your education or the people around you. We are born with the ability, but we all have learning and support needs.
- Speaking like ‘a native’ in English is unnecessary. Speakers of other languages can’t always naturally produce every English sound like a native speaker can. Learn to be proud of your accent.
- Exams and grades don’t define your ability. Learn and believe in other ways of measuring your progress that are more constructive.
- All opportunities are a chance to learn. You don’t have to wait until you have learned more. Learn to see new challenges as essential opportunities to gain skills and experience.
- You don’t have to reject or postpone an interview because you might not understand the interviewer. You can ask them to repeat or to say it in a different way. You can ask them to write it down.
- Feel safe to make mistakes by practising with people who will support you. Making mistakes in conversion, at work or while socialising directly develops your own skills and fluency. What’s the worst that can happen? Someone corrects you, and you learn!
- Learning alone limits your progress. Meeting others like yourself is a massive learning tool. You can learn more from others, ask questions and share resources. Even if others are experts or more confident than you, remember they were learners once, too! Don’t walk this path alone.
Last year, approximately 1.35 billion people worldwide ‘spoke English either natively or as a second language’. And worldwide, the number of English language learners world is about 1.5 billion. English is a global language, so the world is used to imperfect use!
Over to you!
Integrating these lessons into your own life will create a path to success, which you create for yourself. Learn these lessons now before teaching or trying to take the next step so that you can move forward. Depending on your goals and where you are now, your outcomes will look like a million different things!
Some tips for doing that
Here are some ways you can start learning these lessons now!
- Get to the root problem: if you keep delaying your projects, wishes and goals you have for yourself as an international yoga teacher, I suggest you get to the root problem. Use the tools I gave you in the Defeat Your Yoga Teacher Impostor Syndrome Webinar.
- Identify your areas for improvement: if you reject or miss out on job opportunities because you (feel you) lack practice and skills, I suggest you define what skills you need to improve and search for the tools to gain them. These might be things like getting teaching experience, vocabulary practice, and yoga business knowledge.
- Build a support network: if you feel bad and insecure about your pronunciation and accent and prefer to just quit your international career, I suggest you search for someone or a group where you can practise speaking in a safe space. So that they can guide and correct you to gain confidence and fluency. Try for example our weekly conversation classes on the Continuing Education Membership.
- Introspection: if you experience an identity crisis because you don’t even understand yourself and/or ‘who’ you really are in this foreign language, I suggest you go back to your self-practice, and reflect on your values and beliefs. On our Continuing Education Membership you can do just this, and you will learn the vocabulary that you need to express yourself!
So, now let me ask you: what do you need to feel more confident, knowledgeable, and skillful to successfully teach yoga?
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answers to the questions in this blog/training and check out our resources below to find out what steps you can take next:
Join the community of multilingual yogis and feel supported on your journey as an international yoga teacher.
Watch out 10 tips for multilingual yoga teachers.
Visit our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers to keep up with your personal and professional development.
Book your free discovery call to find out what you can improve and create an action plan to achieve the goals you have for your career as an international yoga teacher.