Teaching yoga can be a challenging task, especially if you teach yoga in a foreign language. Let’s face it; being in front of a group of students alone can make you feel nervous, but if you add the fact that you are teaching in a foreign language it’s not uncommon to feel insecure about your word choice, pronunciation and even your accent. In this blog find out about 3 beliefs that make you lack confidence teaching yoga in a foreign language.
We asked our community of non-native English speakers when they feel most confident teaching yoga in English. Their answers were
- ‘feeling prepared’;
- ‘when having consistent students that appreciate me and give positive feedback’;
- ‘when I know my sequence very well’;
- ‘when I have the ability to adjust my class plans to my students’ needs or energy of the day’.
Next to feeling confident, they described that in those moments they feel centred, present, grateful, joyous, energetic and capable.
However, when we asked them when they feel unconfident, they all came up with very similar answers that I think will be very useful for you to know. This way you can analyse if they’re true for you too and reflect on what they mean for your professional development to overcome these obstacles and speed up your learning process to no longer doubt your teaching and communication skills, while teaching yoga in English.
3 beliefs that make you lack confidence teaching yoga in a foreign language
Let’s take a look at some common thoughts and beliefs that hinder you from teaching with confidence, developing your authentic teaching voice and style.
‘My students don’t understand me or my accent’
- The first of the 3 beliefs that make you lack confidence teaching yoga in a foreign language is feeling embarrassed or fearing sounding different.
You might be afraid of being misunderstood or judged on your accent by others. But, when you speak a foreign language, it’s only natural to not exactly sound the same as others. Many students however, aspire to sound like a native speaker but let’s remember that the actual purpose of speaking a foreign language is to be able to transmit thoughts and ideas clearly. As a yoga asana teacher, your first aim is to guide your students with instructions to get them in or out of a posture, or hold and explore it. The main goal here is using appropriate grammar and vocabulary that form effective cues. For this purpose your speech needs to be clear and pronounced, but sounding like a native is not required. Having an accent is nothing to be ashamed of, on the contrary, it’s something you can be incredibly proud of. Instead of comparing yourself to a native speaker or someone that has dominated the language for a while, think of your accent as a sign of courage. It shows that you’ve put in hours of work, studying and learning a language. That you’re committed, disciplined and have made an effort to learn to communicate with others that don’t speak the same language. That you allow yourself to be vulnerable and not afraid to get out of your comfort-zone. And that you are interested in developing yourself; learning about other people and their cultures. A foreign accent truly, is a sign of bravery.
‘I don’t have enough vocabulary’
- One of the signs of a confident teacher is the acknowledgement that they don’t know it all. As the famous poet Alfonso Reyes said: “Amongst all, we know it all”. It means that one individual does not possess all the knowledge in the world, but someone else will know what you don’t, and you know things that they don’t know. So see understanding your limitations as a gateway to keep up your development. In the case of now having the right vocabulary, become clear on the types of words you need to learn. Look them up in a dictionary. Get productive and practise using this new vocabulary teaching yourself. Then practise speaking with friends, the people in your communities and immerse yourself in the language. If you’d like to learn more vocabulary for teaching yoga, read our blog of 10 yogic vocabulary categories you need to know.
‘I’m (still) making too many mistakes’
- It may be that you’re afraid of making mistakes, judge yourself or think that others will notice and judge you for it. But, who’s ever learned anything without making mistakes?
Making mistakes is inevitable when it comes to learning to teach yoga, learning to speak another language and even more so, learning to teach yoga in a foreign language. To gain skill, making mistakes gives you the opportunity to find out what works, doesn’t work and how to do it better or improve. Not making mistakes often means that you’re playing it safe and are stuck in your comfort-zone. For you and those that are reading this, you can no longer afford staying there. Avoiding making mistakes will slow down your process leading to procrastination and result in you giving up on the dreams you have as an international teaching career. If you truly want to teach yoga in a foreign language with confidence and success, let go of shame or embarrassment and instead think of mistakes as learning opportunities to reach your career goals.
The negative effects of not gaining confidence
The negative effects of not gaining confidence may be clear to you already. Self-doubt, embarrassment, comparison and all other feelings that you possibly experience when feeling stuck in one of these three beliefs that make you lack confidence teaching yoga in a foreign language make you want to give up on your career goals. So, let’s have a little brainstorm to check in with where you are now and where you want to be. Take a pen, journal or piece of paper and reflect on the following questions:
- I want to teach in … (place)
- I want to teach to … (people)
- I want to help them … (purpose)
- I want to feel … (emotions/feeling)
- I want my students to feel … (emotions/feeling)
I dare to bet that to get where you want to be in your teaching career (teaching in, to, sharing your purpose, feeling yourself and making others feel), your self-belief is the very first thing you need to give attention and put in the right place. A lack of confidence causes you to not trust yourself, your abilities or even your previous achievements. This in return causes you to delay your goals, dreams and purpose, making you feel lost, stuck, unsupported and give up. So, after reading this, take a moment to reflect on the 3 beliefs that make you lack confidence teaching yoga in a foreign language and think of some activities or types of support that could help you overcome it.
And remember, we’re here to help you too.
- Check out the Teach Yoga in English Support group to feel supported by a community of like-minded people.
- Listen to our podcast Your Yoga in English for a weekly new episode to help you improve your language and communication for teaching and business purposes
- If you haven’t already, take the quiz to find out about your style of teaching voice and receive personalised recommendations to help you improve your authenticity
- And… sign up to the waitlist of the Find Your Teaching Voice in English mini-course