Practising yoga off the mat 

To be able to ‘take your practice off the mat’ is one of the biggest intentions of our practice on the mat. The lessons we learn on the mat prepare us for the challenging situations we face as off it. In others words, when we aren’t doing asana, or practising mindfulness. 

 

They help us to consider our thoughts and decisions, and teach us about appropriate behaviour. In addition, they offer guidance for setting boundaries, and building healthy relationships, among other things. During busy periods, holidays, celebrations or other commitments, many of us can’t stick to our routines. So, during those busy times, practising yoga off the mat is a great option for so many of us who get less time to ourselves. But let’s look at how we can actually practise yoga off the mat, even when we’ve got our hands full. 

Busy spells + less practice = emotional changes

We all experience times where our other responsibilities take over. Maybe work requires you to travel, you’ve got family gatherings, or friends who need you. Birthday presents need buying and the washing machine needs fixing, and you’re running out of groceries… 

 

Whatever it is that requires your time, less time on the mat can feel a little unsettling. For many, their yoga practice is something we do alone. And that’s even when you practise in a class. Many of us depend on this ‘me time’ for creating balance and peace in our lives. So, it can feel challenging to lose it. 

Less time on the mat might cause you to feel: 

  • unbalanced
  • unstable or unsettled  
  • ungrounded
  • anxious
  • frustrated
  • irritable  
  • guilty
  • sad

All of these are normal, and you’re definitely not the only one. Despite what society might tell you, these feelings are nothing to be ashamed of. 

Getting support from another yogi, a friend or family member can do wonders. But what about simply finding other ways of practising yoga off the mat?

Your yoga does not always have to depend on asana practice, meditation or mindfulness

In particular, the Sutra by Patanjali, the Yamas and Niyamas, are an example of this. For instance, they teach us to deal better with our own thoughts and behaviour in social situations. All of these are tested during busy times, or when we spend more time than normal with other people. 

Practising these things when it is not possible to practise as normal, can provide a remedy for any negative emotions. For example, those could be feelings of imbalance, anxiety and irritability. 

Yamas: their meaning and application to real life 

The Yamas represent ‘the right way of living’. Specifically, these refer to types of self restraint and ‘ideal’ behaviour. For that reason, people often describe them as morals or ethics. Also, they could refer to the way we speak to and behave around others. They particularly affect our relationships. So, you can see them as a ‘don’t do’ list for nurturing your relationships with others, the world, and yourself.

  • Ahimsa (non-harming or non-violence in the way you think, speak and act)
  • Satya (truthfulness)
  • Asteya (non-stealing)
  • Brahmacharya (right use of energy)
  • Aparigraha (non-greed or non-hoarding)

Niyamas:  their meaning and application to real life 

The Niyamas are positive activities. So, they can be having responsibilities, or being observant, thoughtful and considerate. Similarly, they teach us healthy habits and discipline. The Niyamas help us find contentment and ways of feeling liberated. I see them as tools for creating an idea and a responsible lifestyle. But also for reaching spiritual enlightenment. In contrast to the Yamas, many describe them as the ‘to do this’ list. 

  • Saucha (cleanliness)
  • Santosha (contentment)
  • Tapas (discipline)
  • Svadhyaya (study of the self and of yogic texts)
  • Isvara Pranidhana (surrender to a higher being, or contemplation of a higher power)

All of the Yamas and Niyamas are social ethics, moral, or rules for behaviour. Whatever your background or opinions are, your interpretation of them will differ. Learning about them in, for example, your YTT is great. However, it can’t stop there. 

To practise yoga off the mat, you need to reflect on the meaning of the Yamas and Niyamas. How you can live by them? What does ‘non-harming’ (Ahimsa) mean to you?

For each of the 10 in the list, give yourself a moment to think think of real life examples. That is to say, in every day activities, like your job. A translation is not enough! So, give an example of how you would not hurt anyone, anything or yourself in your job. 

Practising off the mat could look like this

  1. Situation: At a family meal, everyone’s eating meat.
    Immediate reaction: Say ‘you shouldn’t eat meat! It’s bad!’
    Practising yoga off the mat: React by practising Svadhyaya – study of the self and yogic texts. And Satya – truthfulness. Explain to them calmly why eating vegan is an ethical choice for you.  
  2. Situation: Your sister says ‘I hate your last Instagram post’.
    Immediate reaction: You get defensive.
    Practising yoga off the mat: You practise Ahimsa – non-harming or non-violence. Also Brahmacharya – right use of energy. Instead, think ‘the important thing is my community will find my post useful’.
  3. Situation: You’re at a party that’s too crowded and loud.
    Immediate reaction: You get irritable, and people think you’re rude.
    Practising yoga off the mat: Take a deep breath and appreciate by focussing on the fact you’re surrounded by your loved ones. That is to say, practise Isvara Pranidhana – surrender to, or contemplation of, a higher being/power.
  4. Situation: Some the food is burned.
    Immediate reaction: You cry, consider it a disaster, and don’t eat anything at all.
    Practising yoga off the mat: Despite the burned food, instead you choose to have an equally good time. You practise Santosha – contentment – by appreciating the rest of the food that is edible.
  5. Situation: Your grandparents give you clothes you know you’ll never wear.
    Immediate reaction: It’s awkward and difficult to show appreciation because deep down you don’t like them.
    Practising yoga off the mat: Recognise this as an opportunity to give them away to someone else that will enjoy them. As a result, you’re practising Aparigraha – non-greed, non-hoarding – and Asteya – non-stealing. 

Reflecting on practising yoga off the mat

As practitioners and educators of yoga, it’s really important you to reflect on the Yamas and Niyamas. In other words, you need to know what these guidelines for ideal behaviour mean to you. In addition, you must consider how you can integrate them into your lifestyle. Not only because we can stay faithful to the real teachings of yoga, especially if we teach in the west. But also because we can apply them directly to our personal lives, and our behaviour as teachers.

To give you a little extra help to get started with this reflection, consider the following journal questions. So that you can see if you already apply the Yamas and Niyamas to your life. You might find you don’t really, in which case focus on what they mean to you personally. For example, consider what real-life situations (might) occur, during which the Yamas and Niyamas could come in handy.

Grab your journal:

  • How has yoga changed or affected your life off the mat already? 
  • In what ways do you apply any of these things to your life already? 
  • What (new) lessons have you learned today about the Yamas, Niyamas, or yogic philosophy in general? Which can you take into your daily life the next time things get too busy to get on the mat? 
  • Write some examples of how you could start practising yoga off the mat during the next busy period you experience.

Understanding the Yamas and Niyamas fully will help you give yourself quick reminders when you can’t get on the mat. This can help you in all the areas of life that the Yamas and Niyamas cover. 

 

Further, this type of study helps you to accept other people’s thoughts and behaviour without the urge to change them. As a result, you have tools for communicating with students, colleagues and collaborators who do not always think like you do.

 

Your self-study and the development of your practice off the mat teach you not just to tell others that they’re wrong and need to change. Consequently, you understand your real purpose – Dharma. It probably isn’t to create tension or bad energy. Practising yoga off the mat with the Yamas and Niyamas, you learn to take care of yourself and others better, and cultivate deeper and healthier relationships. 

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.

Learn these lessons before teaching yoga

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…

  1. I was embarrassed of my teaching voice, which stopped me teaching for an entire year after completing my YTT.
  2. I didn’t know how to express myself in English as a teacher. Especially when speaking about anatomy and technicality. 
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. Exams and grades don’t define your ability. Learn and believe in other ways of measuring your progress that are more constructive. 
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.  
  1. 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! 
  1. 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.

2 facts

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!

  1. 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.
  1. 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.
  1. 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
  1. 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 annie@engaunite.com 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.

Why it’s a bad idea to translate your scripts

Today learn, why it’s a bad idea to translate your scripts!

‘Learning to become fluent in a language depends on your willingness to make an effort.’

I typed this quote into Google translate, hoping I could simply copy and paste. But this is what happened: ‘Vloeiend leren worden in een taal hangt af van uw bereidheid om u in te spannen.’ 

This is in Dutch and for those who don’t speak it. Can you see how Google translate ruined the word order and made the pronouns too formal? And, most importantly, lost the meaning of the sentence? 

When you translate it directly back to English, it says: ‘Fluent learning becoming in a language depends on your will to strain.’ 

The word order is wrong, the use of tenses is incorrect, and the final verb has a totally different meaning.

I know this, because I speak both languages fluently. But imagine if I was less familiar with either language – the translation would seem fine to me. I’d post it on my social media feed and wonder why no one was engaging with it. So, if you’re trying to attract new students, it is a bad idea to translate your content directly.  

Direct translation

Direct translation can mean translating something literally from one language to another. It can also mean translating each word individually. But think of all the expressions, idioms and synonyms that each language has, and how different their grammar can be. Unfortunately, language just is not that simple!

At times you might be lucky and translating directly will work. But most of the time, languages work in different ways. That’ why, if you want to maintain the same meaning, it’s a bad idea to translate your ideas in such a robotic and literal way. Languages express ideas differently:  they have unique words, varying cultural associations, different structures and distinct ways of ordering information. They also come with their own sense of humour and ways of showing emotion. Each language, and even their dialects, has its own style of communication, and there is often no direct equivalent of the same expression in both languages. 

When, at the moment of translation, the meaning, feelings and the effect of language change, we use the phrase: ‘Lost in translation’. 

Lost in translation

Lost in translation means that when we translate something, it loses effectiveness and meaning. Translation apps (even though many have improved a lot) aren’t always correct, are often too literal, and don’t consider wider contexts or alternatives.  

This is problematic because it means there is no intention behind the words we choose.  Instead, they’re selected by a robot who only had one option in the first place. You don’t have the  freedom to choose which word out of several, or your tone of voice, or whether to speak with humour or seriousness. As a result, you can no longer communicate the authentic message or your feelings that goes with it. 

It’s not only a bad idea to translate this way because it isn’t accurate, but it can also really affect your students. It can result in confusing, offensive, non-inclusive language. And especially in the context of teaching yoga, this can be harmful to your students. 

The language we use in our yoga classes is very specific. It’s descriptive, it can be instructional ormetaphorical, and our students can  be very sensitive to it. People come to your classes to connect mind, body and breath. They come to find a type of relief, become present, disconnect from the outside world, and for other personal reasons. Your students want to be able to follow your guidance and words without having to think and, or look up to see what you’re doing. It’s also important that your language is considerate and appropriate for them. For those reasons, paying attention to the words you use is crucial.

Why translation can be problematic

As an English learner, you may have studied prepositions. Prepositions are an excellent example of types of words that get misinterpreted and cause confusion when you try to translate them directly. If you’re a Spanish speaker, think of ‘sobre’ which in English means ‘on’, but also ‘upon’, ‘over’, and ‘above’. Translate ‘sobre’ to German: ‘über’ and in English next to ‘over’ and ‘above’ it also means ‘about’ and ‘across’. 

Any English teacher will tell you it’s a bad idea to translate prepositions into or out of your own language. But for yoga teachers it can be very tempting to do this. In yoga, we need prepositions a lot to describe where to move or position something, and how we should move there.  

Now imagine you had to ask your students to ‘Lift your arm ____ your head’ or ‘Place your left foot ____ your knee’. Which preposition would you choose? I’m afraid that simply translating the word you’d use in your language doesn’t always communicate the same meaning. 

Mistranslations of prepositions are easy to do but can be very confusing and can cause people to stumble and fall over. Directly translating other types of language like phrases, expressions and vocabulary can have a negative effect on your students’ emotions and your relationship with them, too.

Language is deeply linked to our cultures

There’s a book I love called ‘Lost in Translation’ by Ella Frances Sanders. It explains the meaning of words that only exist in one language. These types of words tell us a lot about a culture. About a local attitude to life, lifestyles and perspective of the (rest of the) world.

Saudade

An example I learned from a Brazilian friend is the Portuguese word ‘saudade’.  I understand this is a sad but loving feeling of really longing for something or someone. In English, a bad translation might be nostalgia, but that focuses on the past. Saudade can also be, for example, missing someone present, or a dreamy wishfulness that something will happen in the future and probably can’t/won’t. When a concept like this simply doesn’t exist linguistically in English as one word, it’s such a bad idea to translate directly. You will lose the essence and feeling of this unique idea in its cultural context.

The words and language we use have strong emotional associations and whenever we translate a single word, the translation doesn’t necessarily carry the same meaning. A good translation communicates the same messages and feelings that come with a word, not just a line of individual letters and words that aren’t connected to wider significance. 

There are other things you need to take into account when you translate in a context where lots of different languages, cultures, opinions and lifestyles meet, like in an international yoga class. If you, as a teacher, want to communicate humour, what you find funny may not be funny at all for your students. For example, many people (and possibly you) sarcasm just seems like a lie! But in some countries, it’s a common sense of humour to have. Things like humour, irony, and the expression of emotion and tone through language choice change when a person identifies more easily with the culture(s) of a different language.

Language is personal 

The language you use as a yoga teacher is deeply personal. Not only are your words your own expression of your personal ideas, knowledge and feelings, but it can really affect your students, and in many different ways. We don’t always know about their background, culture, beliefs and perspectives and so it’s our responsibility to pay attention to the words we use in our classes and overall communication. 

I have mentioned it’s a bad idea to involve direct translations in your content because it can result in confusing, offensive, non-inclusive language. I’ve also explained how translation apps are often incorrect, too literal and don’t consider context or alternatives.

So let’s take, for example, the word ‘thin’. Being thin/fat and big/small depend on your environment and personal experience. For a person who struggles to find food or has a health condition or lifestyle meaning  they never gain weight, then being thin is a symbol of ill health and struggle. For others, whose environment has been influenced by media that promotes thinness as a beautiful thing, being thin might feel like a good thing. Depending on your personal situation, ‘thin’ can have both or either positive and/or negative associations.

Words have connotations, so choose them carefully

As a yoga teacher, to help you choose your language wisely, you need to consider what the connotations are of the words you use. Another reason why it’s a bad idea to translate your content directly is because it doesn’t take into account the strong associations, feelings, ideas and opinions that  individual words suggest. 

Think of the very similar words: ‘skinny’ and ‘slim’. One of these has more negative connotations and could activate negative emotions for your students. Which of these words is best to use for your classes? I’d personally say ‘slim’ is safer, to me based on my understanding and experience of its associations. ‘Slim’ is probably the most neutral way to explain that something isn’t ‘thick’, ‘fat’ or ‘big’. But these also have their own problematic associations. The point is that direct translations can not only be incorrect, but also very activating for those suffering from any type of trauma. And that personal experience and cultural background influence those feelings. 

So, how can you translate your scripts more accurately? 

The students that are taking our English for Yoga Teachers Course, as well as  those who  are on our membership are immersed in their language learning for their job as a yoga teacher. Immersion isn’t only necessary to gain confidence and fluency, it’s also the only way to get used to hearing and seeing it regularly, making the language your own and learning to use the language as native speakers do. 

Developing your English for yoga teaching in an immersive way will give you the skills you need to translate in a more accurate and knowledgeable way. But importantly. Immersion helps you not to depend on translation. Through immersion, you get a feeling for a language, and that’s what stops you needing to translate directly. It’s also what gives you a better understanding of the associations different words have. Why? Because you experience it for yourself. Through language exposure, you gain your own experience of the connotations and feelings a word brings up.

Working with other yoga teachers and students who are international helps you start considering how different our experiences can be and how you can accommodate them in your teaching. You start to develop your own experience of the connotations and associations that language can have, and how they differ between individuals, because you yourself see and hear it in usef.

Immerse yourself so that you understand the connotations of language

In order to start understanding the significance of words and their associations, you need to be exposed to the language as much as possible. While immersion is different for everyone, it involves regular practice of all the skills:  listening, reading, writing and speaking. And it also includes active practice and revision of vocabulary.  I call that one  ‘independent learning’ and consider it a fifth skill. 

It’s key to read about the topics that you teach in English. To sign up for classes and workshops with your English speaking teachers and practise your listening skills. Find opportunities to speak about these topics. That could be with other learners, someone who understands the struggle of learning a language, or who can help and correct you. Meanwhile, make sure you record whatever you’re learning and make an effort to practise all of your new learnings in context.

Continuing Education Membership

In the world of teaching yoga, I believe there’s too little attention paid to non-native English speaking yoga teachers. When I completed my first YTT, I felt misunderstood and undervalued for not knowing the right vocabulary for my yoga classes. I doubted my ability to teach yoga in English even though I was teaching English as my full time job. And that’s why I’m here. To help you learn to communicate what you truly want to say and offer effective, accessible and authentic classes your students will love. To no longer doubt your translations, but speak and teach with confidence and clarity. 

Join the community of multilingual yogis and feel supported on your journey as an international yoga teacher.

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.

6 Mistakes that Stop your Professional Growth

Train your listening skills and listen to Annie speak about the 6 mistakes that stop your professional growth on the podcast:

6 Mistakes that Stop your Professional Growth

The route to achieving big goals naturally involves making mistakes and lots of learning. Even the best planners come across situations they’d never thought of before. The most experienced entrepreneurs have had to overcome self-doubt and the fear of taking risks. Wherever you are in your journey right now, I’m sure that there are things that hold you back from making big progress. That’s why I hope this blog helps you gain some insight into the 6 mistakes that stop your professional growth! 

1. Self-doubt & Limiting beliefs

If you focus on the bad, you can’t take advantage of the good. 

Thoughts such as ‘I can’t do it’, ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘people don’t understand my accent’ could be an indication of your fear of making mistakes. It might also be a sign that you’re scared of people judging you. 

We often focus on what we don’t know, don’t understand or think we ‘need or ‘should know.’  but this means we never take the opportunity to practise despite all the things we don’t know lots about or feel comfortable with. And of course, if you don’t practise, you can’t learn, nor can you know how to improve. This negative approach distracts you from using the knowledge you have now to get some practice! 

Learning English to teach yoga has specific needs and requires a new approach: concentrate on learning the information and knowledge you need for it. And to get this new knowledge, use the knowledge you already have now in the present moment and use it to learn more. For example, if you don’t know the word ‘mat’ you can ask your teacher: ‘What do you call the long thing that we put on the floor to practise yoga on?’ 

Here, you use all the vocabulary and structures you already know to learn something new. 

‘Celebrate your wins’

Look at how far you’ve come and what you’ve learned – that fact that you’re reading this says that you know a lot already and at least are trying to become better!

So, reflect on what you already know, what you’re good at and praise yourself for all of the effort you’ve made so far. I’m very sure that you can think of at least 1 or 2 little successes you’re proud of! 

2. Having unrealistic plans, goals or expectations

Our expectations of ourselves are extremely high – we compare ourselves to others and often get competitive! . But when you focus on the things you can’t do or aren’t good at, you forget to look at your own qualities and talents and  it can make you feel down. 

Losing sight of what you’re good at may result in giving up on your goals or plans because your plans take too long, your goals are too difficult, or your expectations involve too much pressure. But actually the root problem is that they’re simply unrealistic.

Having a big goal in mind is great, but that should be your end goal. Before then, plan a path leading up to it, containing lots of step by step mini-goals. Create milestones and set deadlines to achieve them on your way to your bigger goals. Celebrate all the little successes, all the little wins, and keep track of your progress to remind yourself of how far you’ve come! 

Unrealistic goals often have a reason, and the reason brings me to mistake 3. 

3. Not knowing your purpose or not knowing the reasons ‘why’

When I teach general English classes, most students start by saying they want to get an exam or certificate. And my question is always ‘why?’ Are you applying for a job or university? Do you need this, or do you just think you need it because everyone else is doing it? Is it because, without that bit of paper, your learning doesn’t exist? 

What you learn in exams is not what you need in your normal life; it simply shows that you can memorise, follow a format, and have exam technique. How much of that is the English you will use as a yoga teacher?  

This is why I focus on English learning designed especially for yoga teachers. This means you learn English with a clear purpose. The language you need for teaching yoga is very specific and isn’t something you find in a normal exam textbook.

When you’re practising language for cueing asana, you’re clear on why you’re learning it: it’s relevant to your life now. It isn’t just an examiner’s box you want to tick. 

As a yogi, you probably want to be as present as possible, live in the moment and focus on everything that is happening now. But as a teacher and human, in our modern society, you need to plan ahead. You need to make a living, care for your loved ones and take care of yourself. 

We need to look at the bigger picture. Knowing the reason ‘why’ you want or do something is a priority. Without knowing the reason why, you can’t understand your objectives. Therefore you can’t plan how to reach them or measure your progress. The result is that you lose motivation, which understandably stops you achieving your goals.

Start exploring your reasons why…

…your purpose and your intentions for  your learning journey! After reading this, go to your Continuing Education Membership and download the worksheet.

4. Trying to figure it out by yourself

Often at school we are encouraged to work alone and to do everything ourselves. But how else would we learn if we didn’t look to others? Even learning from a book is learning from someone else. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned this last year, it’s that we need other people around us in order to grow. We need to be in contact with people to learn from, be inspired by, to help us, to reflect, and guide us. We need people you can rely on and who positively influence your life. Together you’re so much stronger than you are alone, if you are around the right people. 

Think of all the successful people you know and think of the people that have helped them – we’re social beings and need each other to lean on.

Using google translate, finding exercises online, and watching videos without human assistance will only get you so far. But they’re time consuming and often of bad quality. Only through contact with a person can you get feedback, speak and think spontaneously or be corrected. 

For example, when developing language and teaching skills, you can ask for explanations, clarifications and different types of support. Support could mean recommendations of other books, materials, documentaries or learning techniques. Learning with others can help you with pronunciation, understanding and human interaction, all of which are essential in teaching yoga. Learning language alone postpones your growth and, with no opportunity for real life practice, it causes a lot of frustration.

So, ask yourself: in what areas of my professional development could I use more support from other people

Is it in learning, business development, teaching techniques, or finding students? Again, get clear on your purpose so that you can understand what kind of help you need. I promise that receiving help makes a big difference and can give you a great sense of relief!  

5. Postponing your plans and waiting for a better time

Do you know the expression ‘time is money’? 

And I also want to ask you this: ‘what is the cost of not investing now?’

How many classes do you need to teach in your own language to make a living? How many classes would you have to teach if you could teach in English? And how many more students could you have? Postponing your plans to  teach yoga in English could have a really high price. The longer you don’t take the opportunity, the longer you’ll: 

❌ Keep declining international job offers because you think you can’t speak English well enough

❌ Miss out on collaboration opportunities because you don’t have the vocabulary or speaking skills to communicate

❌ Lose engagement online because you can’t express exactly what you want to say

❌ Keep committing the first mistake of this training: Doubt your teaching skills because of your language and communication abilities or simply think that your accent makes you a less effective communicator/teacher?

❌ Spend time trying to educate yourself, getting frustrated, giving up, losing momentum, starting over again and hit the same wall over and over.

6. Not investing time in skills, knowledge and education

The value of education is so underestimated. Education is an investment which always pays back. Skills, knowledge and the opportunity to put these skills and knowledge into action are key. And when you can put these skills and knowledge into action, you can expand your services. For you, those could be your classes, your workshops or retreats. 

Good education isn’t hard to find these days. On the internet you can find great teachers and, even better, teachers that aren’t normally accessible or available to you because of distance. 

Think of all the investments you’ve made so far to get where you are now. They aren’t always big ones, like living or working abroad, although they are obviously very beneficial to your development. What about the small ones you can do now? Like taking half an hour to revise that vocabulary? Or taking an hour or two a week to attend a language exchange or yoga class in English? The best investment is education because, no matter how small it is, it always pays back. 

Do any of these 6 mistakes stop your professional growth?

And what have you tried doing in order to defeat them? 

Go to the Continuing Education Membership to download your worksheet and start working on your professional growth.

Book your free discovery call with Annie here and find out what you can do to overcome them!

7 Ways Yoga Helps You Learn New Things

Listen to Annie speak about 7 ways yoga can help you learn new things.

7 Ways Yoga Helps you Learn New Things! 

Today I’m writing  about two of my biggest passions. Learning and yoga. Specifically 7 ways yoga helps you learn new things! 

As a yoga practitioner or teacher you know that yoga and learning go hand in hand. For most people this starts when they first practise asana, when you start to learn more about your  body. For others it could be meditation that teaches them about the fluctuations of their mind or spiritual texts that teach them about lifestyle, ethics and philosophy. 

Whichever came first and however you started your yoga learning journey, it’s a path of never-ending learning. 

Practising and teaching yoga opens up a whole new world. It gives you new perspectives on behaviour, actions, knowledge, but also culture and beliefs. It teaches you about your relationships with yourself, the people around you, and the world as a whole. Yoga takes you on a transformative journey which often makes you rethink all your previous thoughts, words and decisions. It helps you develop awareness, including self-awareness.

Why self-awareness is needed for learning new things

The self-awareness we develop through yoga is something we need when we want to learn anything. It’s something many school systems don’t pay attention to. When you’re in school, many classes are taught the same way, to all students. But every student has their own learning style, talents, strengths, interests and needs. For many, either in school or coming out of school we believe we’re not good at learning. Bad at memorising new information. And sometimes even think we’re not intelligent enough. As a result we focus a lot on what other people think of us, our answers and our grades. We develop a perspective of ourselves that may not be accurate or true, but from my own experience, practising yoga helps you gain a more correct and fairer awareness of who you are and what challenges you face.

Self-awareness is a product of your yoga practice which changes any false perspective you have of yourself and of what you can do. With this, comes a total change in attitude towards your learning journeys (yoga related or not)  meaning you can learn anything. 

Why would you want to learn anything?

I believe learning is one of the most valuable assets of our human experience. We continue learning and evolving throughout our personal and professional lives.

Without continuous learning, you wouldn’t be where you are today. On a learning journey that lasts a lifetime, you probably experience lots of different ways of learning. Some are more helpful than others, depending on your personal learning needs. 

For example, many school systems are designed to suit only one or two ways of learning which might be perfect for you, or completely wrong. And sometimes finding support from teachers or colleagues to help us and give us advice or to share resources can be a massive help. But they’re not always going to suit you, even if they’re offered to you with the best intentions. 

That’s why self-awareness in any learning is fundamental: really it’s you who can make the biggest difference to your learning. Rely on your knowledge and understanding of yourself, because nobody can know you better than you can.

Transferring the skill of self-awareness that yoga teaches you, to anything you’re learning, makes you an independent learner. That means you can use your self-awareness to know what you need in order to make progress, and understand where you need to improve and, importantly, where you do well! 

Today, I’m sharing with you 7 Ways Yoga Helps You Learn New Things. To stay on top of your goals, and enjoy learning faster and more effectively. For the purposes of this training/blog,  I’m going to give examples that are specific to  learning languages, because that’s what you’re doing. But these skills can be used for any other type of learning journey, too. If you’d like suggestions or help with any of these points, just write to me at annie@engaunite.com

7 Ways Yoga Helps you Learn New Things

1: FOCUS💡

One of the first things you learn by practising yoga is focus. ‘Find a focal point in front of you’ – ‘Bring your focus back to your breath’. ‘Focus on the sensations in your hip area when you’re in Pigeon Pose’. Yoga helps you learn not to listen to distracting thoughts, sounds, and other disturbances. Thi  can really help your brain use its energy where you want and need it to be. This focus training will become a transferable skill meaning that you can now apply your ability to focus when learning anything. 

2: COMMITMENT 🗓️

Commitment is a value and whether or not you find learning something easy or challenging, whether you really have no desire to or you can’t wait to learn it, doing it anyway is a huge achievement and a valuable learning skill. 

In yoga, many students value their commitment to their practice as an important part of their (daily) life. Their practice and self-care become a priority and this commitment is easily translated to any other learning journey. That feeling of getting on your mat on the easy days and the challenging days. No matter the distractions in your life, even if it’s for 10 minutes only, you’re showing up for your practice; you’re committed to your learning and your progress. 

Yoga teaches you you can only develop or improve yourself when you put in the time and effort. It teaches you that committing to your learning, no matter how much patience or hard work it requires, will be worth it in the future. That helps you face the vocabulary exercises, grammar tasks and learning objectives that intimidate you the most. 

3: IMMERSION ☸️

Yoga is practised on and off the mat. What you learn in class or have read in a book, you’ll apply in your daily life. For that reason, many teachers say that yoga is a lifestyle rather than a practice. In the same way we practise a yogic lifestyle on and off the mat, we can learn new things inside and outside the classroom. Learning something new is a way of life, particularly when learning languages! 

Consider your language learning journey a lifestyle, too, and bring it into your free time: read books and watch films in the language you’re learning, go to social events where you’ll speak/hear that language, watch documentaries about places where that language is widely spoken, meet up with people who are also learning the language, have learned it or a native speakers. Immerse yourself in any activities that expose you to learning more, and help you embody what you’ve already learned.

4: PATIENCE 🧘🏻‍♀️

Patience is a skill that you can train by regularly practising yoga. You’ll find that you have easy days and challenging  days. You’ll find that some asanas or knowledge come easily or naturally, and some take longer. But your inner patience tells you ‘ It’s okay. If it’s not today, it might be another day.’  This is having patience: being ok with the fact that something doesn’t happen when you want/expect it to.

Prioritise the quality of what you learn and how you learn it. Worry less about how much you learn in how short a period of time. There’s also no point in rushing your learning if you aren’t actually absorbing the knowledge you need to. People will ask you ‘how did you learn to do this asana?’ not ‘how long did it take you to learn so many asanas?’. 

The way you learned to do something so well is more important than how many other things you can do/know.

The same goes for learning to speak, write, listen, read and communicate effectively. Learning something like a language is never a fast process. Too often, students and teachers focus on quantity rather than quality. In your yoga practice, you must have heard the expression ‘less is more’. This is true for yoga asanas and for learning languages, too. 

5: LISTENING 👂🏽

Yoga teaches us about union of the mind and the body. It teaches us to listen to both things so that they can connect. It teaches you to be selective and only listen to things that really matter; to what  keeps you healthy and helps you grow. 

Learning to listen to yourself is a tool that improves the quality of any learning journey. Listening tells you when to take a break, when you don’t understand, or when you’ve made a mistake. But it also trains you to listen for the good things! Listen out for that new word you used, or that great answer you gave. Listening helps you nurture and reward yourself, fuelling your next step.

6: POWER of IMAGINATION 🌈

‘While in Warrior 2, imagine you’re a warrior, a fighter and a seer’, ‘While in Standing Forward Fold, imagine looking at your reflection in a pond between your feet.’Even if you aren’t aware of it, yoga trains your imagination. Think of all the imagery you experience during yogic and meditative practices. 

Has a teacher ever asked you to invent an example of something? To try to use a new word in a sentence? They do this to help you train your imagination so that when the correct context comes up in real life, you can use your imagination to create a correct sentence without the help of a teacher or an exercise. 

Your imagination can help you to visualise how you’d feel after achieving your language goals, for example. It can also help you to simply take a moment to visualise the image of a new word or piece of information, increasing your understanding. 

Imagining new knowledge in a visual way can help you absorb it. For more abstract ideas, imagining the concept in a real-life moment can help us relate better to what we’re learning.

7: ABILITY TO ACCEPT 😌

How often have you fallen out of Tree Pose? As a yoga teacher, how often have you mixed up left and right? And how do you respond to these tiny ‘errors’? 

Yoga gives us the ability to accept the present: the what is or isn’t. It helps you to be comfortable with your mistakes or the things you would like to be different. It teaches you to not judge yourself for the fact you might make more human errors in the future. Yoga shows you how you can accept the things you want to change first so you can take control and turn them into learning opportunities.

To summarise

7 Ways Yoga Helps you Learn New Things

1: FOCUS💡

2: COMMITMENT 🗓️

3: IMMERSION ☸️

4: PATIENCE 🧘🏻‍♀️

5: LISTENING 👂🏽

6: POWER of IMAGINATION 🌈

7: ABILITY TO ACCEPT 😌

These are the skills that yoga develops and which I believe are extremely valuable for improving the quality of your learning. I would love to know if you have ever thought about yoga as a learning skill too. Which of these have you thought about before? Are there any you think you already do? Which might you try to pay attention to in the future?

WEBINAR: Overcome Procrastination by Using Your Yoga Teacher Toolkit

I’d love to invite you to a free webinar I’m hosting on the 3rd of November. In this webinar I’ll share how to overcome imposter syndrome (procrastination) and hold yourself accountable for your learning journey! 

If you’d like to become more productive and stop yourself from postponing the task you know will actually help you grow, I’d love to see you there!  Simply register here!  

Did you already see our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers? In our membership you can further explore how yoga can help you learn new things and gain continuing education hours by joining the live yoga teacher training events. Visit our online learning platform and find out what else is included.

6 Steps to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher

Listen to 6 Step to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher podcast episode here: 

Having completed your YTT in English or another language, you’re no stranger to effort and commitment. But you also know that when you finish a YTT, the effort and commitment don’t stop there.  Yoga teachers all over the world, and particularly those teaching in their second language(s), face real challenges. Some of those big challenges include yogic studies, developments in research and the evolution of language. These things are constantly moving forward, as we share new theories or experiences, and as time passes. And we yoga teachers have to learn about them and adjust to them, throughout our careers. In this blog we analyse your language journey and the 6 steps to becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher.

In order to lead an effective, inclusive and well-rounded class, you need to be informed. And have specific knowledge about specific topics. For example, the asanas and their energetics, anatomy/body parts, cueing and instructional language, metaphorical/theming language and inclusivity. The list goes on.

‘That’s such a yoga teacher thing to say!’ 

Each profession has its own jargon. Jargon is words or phrases that are specific to a group of people, often linked to their job. Even when you’re a native English speaker teaching yoga, you probably don’t know all the words, expressions and vocabulary. At least when you start your job or training. That’s because they aren’t topics of general conversation that you have at college/uni, amongst friends or at language exchanges .This vocabulary is an area of expertise and you don’t often get the opportunity to practise it until you’re on the job. 

For a non-native English speaker who wants to teach yoga in English, using the jargon, the challenge is real. The vocabulary you learn in normal English classes simply isn’t the same as what you need for yoga. And it is certainly not what you need for teaching it. 

Let’s explore your yoga teaching skills and what 6 steps to take to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher. They’re designed specifically for non-native English speakers.

Stop for a second and respect the challenge you’re taking on

It’s important to start by truly understanding what you are requiring of yourself. Remember that:

  1. Learning a language is a challenge
  2. Speaking a language is a skill
  3. Teaching yoga in English (or a foreign language) is an expertise 

You might be wondering what the difference is between these experiences. In some ways, all three involve their own challenges, required skills and expert knowledge. We are language teachers, too, and we’ve separated these things for a reason. We want to help you understand why teaching yoga in English might seem, or have seemed at one point, too big a challenge to tackle. 

Based on our experience teaching students like you, we believe you can make this challenge much more manageable. How?  Break it down into steps. Separating them will help you truly understand what you are expecting of yourself at each stage. This will help you break your language journey down into achievable sub-challenges. 

Unachievable goals and expectations will leave you burnt out. They won’t give you the momentum you need to become the confident English speaking yoga teacher you can be. So, let’s break it down into achievable steps!

Your language journey broken down

1. Learning a language is a challenge

When learning a language, you’re faced with four big challenges all at the same time: speaking, reading, listening and writing. Each of these requires thorough knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. As well as all their different uses and layers of meaning.  

It’s a never-ending process. As we continue learning, we just keep increasing what we know and use. Sometimes it feels like the more you know, the more you don’t know!

Knowing a language isn’t enough. You might know all the grammar and vocabulary you’ve ever been taught. But there are many things you can’t learn until you experience them.
How about adapting to your students’ different  accents or dialects? What about how one language varies from place to place? How does it change over time and according to history and politics? Cultural context and references are so linked to a language’s vocabulary and structures. 

Learning a language is a way of life. And simply learning a language doesn’t mean you can effectively communicate in that language. 

This is why it is important that you know your learning objectives. You can’t wait until you have learned every possible thing about the language before you start teaching yoga in English. You won’t use most of the English language in your yoga classes. Learn what you need to teach, then the rest will fall into place with experience.

2. Speaking a language is a skill

You can learn some parts of language but the real test is: do you put your knowledge into practice? Making phone calls, doing job interviews and developing real friendships are examples of putting language into practice. Writing and speaking in English in real life situations is key. You need this opportunity to use the things you’ve learned in class or in books, in a practical way. 

Doing a vocabulary exercise correctly doesn’t mean you will use the same language accurately, in an uncontrolled situation. For instance, during an interview. There is a common misconception among language learners that we need to unlearn. There is not an instant transition between learning something in theory and using or understanding it independently.  

But you can’t prepare for every possible outcome. So, for now, work on balancing a variety of linguistic skills and gaining confidence to use them in uncontrolled conditions. Learning the mechanics of language is the first step. Next, develop those skills to communicate effectively and to express yourself, make yourself understood, as well as understand others. That is the real test of your skills.

3. Teaching yoga in English (or a foreign language) is an expertise

When learning how to teach yoga in English as a non-native English speaker, you have to use your language skills to: 

  • put your language skills into practice to express yourself clearly. Also to understand others in a professional environment, in a very responsible role.
  • create a safe space for others in which they can explore their mind and body. To do so, use words and expressions that are generally understood and accepted as inclusive. 

As a yoga teacher, you’re helping students to develop their yoga practice. You’re there to transmit the practice, studies or lifestyle of yoga through open, clear and accessible communication. In any language, it takes a lot of communication and linguistic skills to do this. To understand your students and colleagues well enough. To be able to ask appropriate and sensitive questions, and construct careful, informed answers. 

It’s important that we receive and send all this information accurately in English. Yoga is a holistic experience. So, teachers potentially influence multiple areas of their students’ lives. We take on the responsibility to be knowledgeable of the practice and the content we choose. And to be alert and aware of our students’ experiences. Being informed and considerate of our students as unique individuals takes work. 

Responsibilities of Becoming a Confident Yoga Teacher

We also have to hold ourselves accountable for risks we take and the mistakes we make. We need to communicate a variety of knowledge correctly. Not just of yogic practices, but also of health issues and anatomy. Sometimes it’s education and methodology, or language use. It can also be about the coexistence of cultures, languages, behaviour, and many more.  

It’s also about knowing your own boundaries and respecting your students’ boundaries. And also being able to admit when you aren’t in your area of expertise anymore. That’s right – part of your expertise is knowing what you don’t know, and being honest about it!

Becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher 

Now you see how learning to teach yoga is one thing, but learning to teach yoga in another language really takes time, commitment and lots of practice. It involves failing and learning from your mistakes. Which is exactly what you need for the all important ongoing personal and professional development.

As a teacher, I often see my students depending on themselves to get to where they want to, all alone. I really don’t advise this. Remember that yoga and the teaching of it is passed down from teacher to student. A teacher is there to support you, give you feedback and help you to grow continuously to reach your full potential. 

That’s why observation has been one of the most valuable parts of my professional development. It’s been a part of many of my jobs both as a yoga teacher and an English language teacher. Your observer is not there to judge you, but to give you constructive feedback. Observation is a great learning tool. It highlights the things you do well and the things you can improve. 

Seeking help is never a sign of weakness or of not knowing enough. Allowing yourself to receive the support you need can only push you further towards achieving what you want to do with your yoga teaching career. In order to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher, have the courage to discover what you could have more knowledge of. Find out about your areas for improvement, and recognise when it’s time to seek help. And also know where to get that help.

 

So what are the six steps to teaching confidently in English? 

I’ve identified 6 key steps that will help you become a more confident and effective, English-speaking yoga teacher:

1. Understand where you’re at and define your goals

Try to understand what you’re good at, what you know already, what you need to improve, and how you can improve this. As an English learner and yoga teacher, this point specifically focuses on vocabulary and your receptive skills (listening and reading) and productive skills (speaking and writing.)

After you have worked out what stage you are currently at, it’s time to define your goals.

  • How can you turn those points for improvement into realistic goals? 
  • Where do you want to be in a year from now? 
  • Who, where and what do you want to teach? And why? 
  • Which linguistic skills are your strongest? And which skills could you work on most? 
  • What kind of vocabulary do you struggle to find when you need it? 
  • How can I put myself in situations where I will put my new skills into practice?

Ask yourself detailed questions to find out your inner motivation for learning how to teach yoga in English, and what your goals are based on your present situation.

In fact, if you want to test your English Grammar and Yoga Vocabulary, please feel free to take the test here

Setting goals and intentions are necessary to measure improvement and have clear goals to work towards. So, let’s now create an action plan for becoming a confident English speaking yoga teacher. 

 

2. Expand your vocabulary bank for cueing and giving instructions

Next,  you can start developing your language for the specific type of yoga you want to teach. For example: yoga for women in the menopause, yoga for children with ADHD, yoga and Ayurveda, yoga for athletes. 

All these specific groups have their own lingo and focal points within their practice. This is why it’s so important to define your goals before you start expanding your vocabulary bank. Especially for cueing and giving instructions. 

Of course, you do want to get a general understanding of all general yogic vocabulary. Some things are necessary for lots of areas, but make sure the language you use is appropriate for your students and aligns with your teaching objectives. As a result, you will stick to your manageable goals, without trying to learn everything altogether.

3. Learn how to deal with difficult, unexpected, new and uncommon situations

Think of people with injuries, people that leave the room or call early, people that complain about aches and pains. Similarly, people that ask for things you’re uncomfortable with such as ‘can I practise naked in your class?’ Or  things you’re unfamiliar with like ‘I have a hip replacement, what asanas can’t I do?’

 

We’re all different, so we deal with these situations differently. But we still need to learn specific language to deal with them respectfully and confidently. Besides, this is an important part of learning a language! When I taught English in a language school, I loved the classes where we’d practise language for disagreement, negotiating or handling complaints. They prepare you for real life! 

Remember you can say you don’t know, that you disagree with something, or that you need more time. Feel free to admit you can’t help someone right now. Also, not having the answer and admitting it is a reflection of trustworthiness and honesty. It is not a reflection of your value as a teacher. 

Improving how you deal with challenging situations in the future

Have you ever felt dissatisfied with how you dealt with a challenging situation? This is normal, but try not to push it to the back of your mind or beat yourself up about it. Equally, it’s tempting to try to forget the past because it can be difficult to relive our mistakes. It’s also easier to be angry or annoyed with yourself than to deal with the source of what actually happened. And some of us never forget about our mistakes and give up or shy away from similar situations or experiences. 

But, in order to avoid them in the future, you need to take your responsibility as a yoga teacher, practise Svadhyaya and assess how they happened. Next,  evaluate ‘how can I avoid that in the future?’ ‘what do I need to improve?’, ‘where can I learn this or who/what do I need to learn this from?’

4. Understand the different experiences and abilities of your students and learn how to make your classes suitable, personal and adaptable to as many as possible 

When teaching in a studio and even online, you’ll (hopefully) see many different types of students. My teacher once said: ‘The best teachers have a variety of students in their classes – if all the students look the same, the teacher’s likely to teach according to their own body type.’

Make your classes suitable, personal and adaptable for everyone. To do so, you’ll first need to learn how to read bodies in-person and online. You’ll need to learn how to recognise what asanas are challenging or less challenging for different body types. You’ll need to learn how to explain variations. Similarly, you must learn to explain the use of props, according to your observation of your students’ needs.

Being a confident yoga teacher = being an honest yoga teacher

You might not be knowledgeable enough at this point in your career to teach for certain needs and you should not pretend you can. We can’t know everything all the time. Include your students’ different experiences to the point you can responsibly. For example, imagine someone who is pregnant turns up at your class. However, you haven’t studied prenatal yoga. In this case, you must be honest in order to ensure their safety.

Normally, being honest with your students about what you can and can’t do will help you gain trust. Being unable to provide for your students is sometimes the best way you can help them at that time. It shows responsibility and understanding. However, it should also cause you to take that responsibility further and learn more general knowledge about it. And that’s true even when it is an area you choose not to train in as a specialism.


Knowledge is something you can gain after realising you don’t have it. Being trustworthy and honest is an integral value that needs nurturing over a lifetime. Students will respect and trust a teacher who goes away to learn more. They won’t trust a teacher who pretends they have the answer(s) and isn’t honest.

5. Create a well-rounded experience and offer more than ‘just’ asana – learn how to write mindfulness script, meditation scripts and use metaphorical or language for imagination during your yoga classes

Calling all language learners! Think back to the first time you understood a joke or a sarcastic comment in another language. Without having to think hard about it. How did that feel? I bet you felt a little proud to have reached the next level in your language learning. You must have felt like you were truly effective in that language. Understanding humour and participating in more ‘complex’ conversations is not easy. 

The same happens with teaching yoga. One thing is to instruct a yoga class, but another thing is to create an experience. And you know all too well that your students do not come to yoga only to stretch their bodies. Also, they come to enjoy a moment to themselves. They want to connect mind, body and breath. Maybe they want to reflect on specific themes, set intentions, cultivate positive energy or release negative energy. Whatever it is, this type of experience requires more than simple instructions. 

Therefore, to become a confident English speaking yoga teacher, it’s important you know how to write and structure scripts. Equally important is knowing how to use metaphorical language, language for imagination and humour appropriately. Also, you’ll need to consider how to do all of this in an inclusive way!

6. Reading your students – learn how to read your class and individuals, and choose themes according to what you see, feel and hear when you enter the (Zoom) room 

Sometimes, you have a sequence prepared, know your theme and maybe even a playlist. But when you ‘read the room’ you can tell that, for this class, it isn’t at all appropriate. You might have heard the phrase ‘to read the room’ in your yoga teacher training or heard other teachers say this. What does that actually mean? 

It means using  body language, facial expressions, gestures, emotions, feelings, and energies to sense how others feel. For example, in more formal social situations or when you don’t know people very well. It’s about picking up on how others feel or what their opinions are, without them having to tell you.

Even when you’re teaching virtually, you can still sense a lot from your students online. You might just have to reassess what clues you look for. For example, online you might not be able to see how a student is walking or signs of tiredness in their face. But you might become more conscious of the depth and pace of their breathing and their intonation as you listen to them.  

Learning to adapt to your students/classes builds your confidence 

Your class is not about you, but about your students. By really investigating their needs and looking for clues with the knowledge and resources you have, you can adjust your content to them. Adapt your class plans, even take requests, and create classes according to what works for them, at that moment.

To offer these personalised classes, it’s important to keep a bank or notebook. Fill it with different types of asanas, sequences and maybe even themes. As a result, you’ll always have something to refer to. You’ll always be prepared in some way, no matter who shows up and what their needs are that day. 

Learning to read the room, and adapt to the atmosphere or conditions accordingly, will help you become a more confident teacher. You will go into classes feeling like you can teach comfortably, even if things don’t quite go to plan. 

Teach Yoga in English: Mini-Course

If you liked today’s training and would like to find out more, I’ve got a self-paced mini-course to help you start developing your communication and yoga teaching skills in English.

The mini-course is included in our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers, which is the perfect fit for those willing to develop and practice in real-time. 

Listen to 6 Step to Becoming a Confident English Speaking Yoga Teacher podcast episode here: 

If you’re serious about your learning process, join the waiting list for the English for Yoga Teachers course where I’ll teach all these 6 steps over a period of 6 months! 

Why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate

Your job as a yoga teacher is more than just teaching a class. You put a lot of thought into the preparation such as writing your sequences and scripts, creating playlists and collecting mantras, quotes and affirmations to make your classes meaningful. Online and in person you promote your classes, make an effort to inform your (future) students or clients of where they can find you, what you offer, and how this improves their lives. Chances are that you also write a weekly email, entertain your social media following, spend time bookkeeping, and try hard to stay informed about your yogic studies. At least, that’s what you would like to do, but procrastination keeps creeping up on you. In this blog, I’m looking at why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate. I’m going to explain how this stops your growth.

What actually is procrastination? 

Procrastination is often described as having the intention of doing something, yet postponing completing it. When you procrastinate, you delay your responsibilities, tasks, wishes or goals. It might be because you overthink or overcomplicate them. But, it could also be because of a type of fear, resistance and even a lack of understanding of procrastination. Almost always, procrastination results in more stress. 

People that procrastinate a lot often refer to the term ‘impostor syndrome’. Impostor syndrome is an emotional circumstance in which you believe your achievements are not real or that you don’t deserve praise or success for them. You also don’t think you are capable of achieving what you want to or what others expect of you. You might feel you’re not experienced, knowledgeable, or skillful enough to have been or be responsible for success. It could well be one of the reasons why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate.

The pros of procrastination

In our society, procrastination often gets judged or is labeled as something negative. But, procrastination also has positive qualities. 

For example: You want to organise a workshop for new mums. It’s your first time and you don’t really know how to organise yourself and what content to include. But, you know you need to make it happen at some point.

When we procrastinate, we put off important tasks and decisions. Often we postpone making the essential foundational decisions such as securing venue deposits and confirming dates. Those official things seem like big commitments we might not feel ready for, so we delay. Our brains prefer the smaller things that we can change later. 

So, you catch yourself thinking about all the details: we find ourselves playing with flyer designs, what essential oils to bring, and pondering the workshop details like worksheet activities. Maybe these things shouldn’t be a priority now, but they do need to be thought about properly at some point!

Procrastination can be good because we overthink smaller things ahead of time, meaning we don’t forget them or leave them until the last minute. It can help you to build on your ideas, allow yourself to become more creative and consider new options, aims, or designs. They help you to connect with your audience and think through the details earlier. It means you make better considered decisions throughout the process. 

Think of it as brainstorming to really offer the best you can. It’s likely your clients will notice those details and add to the overall good impression you need to give.

The cons of procrastination

Procrastination in moderation can have pros, and putting something off once in a while shouldn’t be a big deal. However, overthinking and procrastination can soon become long-term (chronic). Chronic procrastination often happens due to lack of confidence, clarity or fears (I’ll explain these fears in the free webinar: Overcoming Procrastination By Using Your Yoga Teacher Toolbox). It can cause stress, anxiety and fatigue. Some other common symptoms are feeling stuck, trapped or caught in a pattern. It’ll not surprise you that procrastination limits your growth and potential and really could have a negative effect on your self-worth and overall well-being. 

Chronic procrastination could also be a sign of a condition such as depression, ADD, ADHD or anxiety. But, for most of us, procrastination is often an emotional reaction to something that you don’t feel ready to do. The idea of performing or carrying out the task is so unpleasant that you would rather sabotage yourself or the situation. You feel that you either don’t have the ability or the willingness to confront it. Overthinking and procrastination are obstacles that  stop you from being who you are and who you could be. Let’s find out why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate!

Why you postpone your yoga teacher tasks and procrastinate

Being an all-round yoga teacher is a diverse job and requires a lot more than you might have imagined when you first obtained your Yoga Teacher Certificate. It could be that you’re working multiple jobs or teaching many, many classes. Over the years, with technology and online yoga becoming more popular, the yoga teaching market and teachers’ responsibilities have changed dramatically. Staying up-to-date can feel overwhelming. 

Have a look at the following statements – do you recognise yourself in one of them?

  • How do I continue? I feel stuck, lost, or don’t know what to do next
  • Where do I start? or I don’t know how to start
  • I don’t have time, or I have too much on my plate

These are some very common thoughts and beliefs among procrastinators. When you’re in the middle of it, it might feel that that really is the case. But as a yoga teacher, you know best, that there’s always a deeper problem: the root problem. 

The root problem of procrastination comes down to self-doubt, lack of confidence, unrealistic goals or lack of clarity. The good news is that you don’t need to gain self-confidence before you can continue with your plans. Do the exercise below to take your first step into learning to beat procrastination so that you can do the things you keep postponing. As you finally complete these tasks, your self-confidence will grow! 

In our next blog, I’ll speak about productivity for yoga teachers and help you reduce procrastination by learning how to trust yourself and improve confidence. But, for today, I want you to do some introspection and practise Svadhyaya: self-study. 

Reflect and meditate on your root problem

Sit down and write or reflect on the following questions:

  1. In your yoga teaching career, what do you delay doing when you procrastinate? (e.g. writing a sequence, starting your online yoga business, shooting yoga classes for YouTube).
  2. Listen to your emotions when you think about the thing you’re neglecting when  procrastinating. (e.g. I feel a fear of failure, I feel useless or unprepared, I’m bored and can’t be bothered). 

  1. Examine and write down the root of these thoughts and emotions (e.g. I feel scared that others are better than me, I don’t feel I have the skills or knowledge or I can’t be bothered because my goals are unrealistic).

  1. Look at the reasons ‘why’ you came up with in question 3. Now turn your reasons for procrastination into the opposite of your problem (e.g. ‘I’m afraid I don’t have the skills or knowledge’ = make an effort to pick up your studies; do research and obtain the skills and knowledge you need. ‘My goals are unrealistic’ = set smaller goals or make a step-by-step plan; you’re not in a rush.) 

AND MAKE IT WORK!

  1. Be realistic and decide how much time you really need to get through your tasks, goals and to-do list. Plan it in your diary and stick to your plan. Turn off all distractions and take your procrastination seriously! The more often you actually follow up on your plans and do the things you need to do, the more you’ll learn to trust yourself.

  1. Finished your task(s)? Celebrate! Treat yourself for every little win! This doesn’t only make you feel better about the little achievements you make – it also helps your mind to see what you are  capable of. You deserve to be rewarded for your efforts! 

 

Want to learn more? Register for the webinar: Defeat Your Yoga Teacher Imposter Syndrome.

Can’t make it live, or see this after the webinar has taken place: I’ll send a recording of the webinar to your email! 

Continuing Education Membership

In the meantime, check out our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers. This membership offers professional and personal development for yoga teachers that have a vision and want to start teaching worldwide; online or abroad. Have a look at all that’s included here.

What to include in your yoga teacher cv

Listen to our podcast: What to Include Your Yoga Teacher CV

Have you (just) finished your yoga teacher training? Seen a teaching opportunity? Or are you looking for a new teaching job? You know you love teaching yoga and you’ve got a lot to offer to yoga studios, schools or even gyms. However, you probably need to hand in your CV (curriculum vitae). In this blog, I’ll give you a step by step plan for what to include in a great yoga teacher CV.   

Writing a yoga teacher CV is a strategic task. Allow yourself to really take all the time you need for it. Before you list all your skills and experiences and call it a day, it’s important to reflect, do some research and find clear answers to the following questions: 

1. What type of establishment are you interested in working for?

(E.g. a yoga school, yoga studio, a gym, a community centre, etc.).

2. What type of classes are you trained in and willing to offer?

(E.g. vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, Yoga Teacher Training material or workshop based activities).

3. What are the core values or mission statement of the establishment you want to apply for?

(E.g. Do they purposefully promote inclusivity? Are their classes geared towards an older audience? Or are they more focused on offering a form exercise?)

4. Who will be receiving your CV?

(E.g. is it a studio owner, a frontdesk assistant or an HR manager?)

5. What type of qualifications, certificates and (continuing) education have you completed to become a teacher?

(E.g. Maybe you’ve obtained a 200 Yoga Teacher Certificate and 50h of continuing education in yogic history).

6. What type of skills and experience do you have that ‘they’ are interested in? 

(E.g. it’s unlikely that your future employer wants to hear about the subjects you took in high school. But they will want to know about your experience working in marketing for a yoga or wellness  brand).

The answers to these questions will help you massively in knowing what to include in your yoga teacher CV. 

Let’s analyse the ‘steps’ to creating your yoga teacher CV.

1. Name & title 

Write down your first name(s), your last name(s) and any titles, letters or pronouns you use. Optionally, you could include the styles of yoga you’re trained in.

For example:

  • Maria Joanna Fernandez Murcia – 200HR RYT* Hatha/Vinyasa
    she / her

*Note: RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher / CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher.

2. Contact details:

  • Email: if at all possible, try to use a professional email address that’s not something like ‘yolo@hotmail.com
  • Phone: especially if you live or want to apply to work abroad, or you’re on the road, include your country code.
  • Website: this is a great optional feature if you have one.
  • Social media: if you use social media to promote your classes and services, you can include links to your Facebook page and Instagram account. 

Consider deleting any images online that could give off a bad impression, such as party pictures or posts you shared in the past but wouldn’t share now. If you prefer, make your account invisible. Remember there are many employers that will look for you on social media, even if you haven’t provided your links. 

For example:

  • mariayoga@yogamaria.com
    +34 123 456 789
    www.mariayoga.com.es
    @mariayoga

Make sure that all of these details are up-to-date and people can actually reach you. You’ll be surprised to see how often people miss out on great opportunities because they didn’t update their contact details.

3. Teaching & work experience

After you’ve listed your contact details, you’ll describe your teaching experience. Do this in chronological order, from the most recent to the earliest experience. If you haven’t got any teaching experience yet, you can skip part A and go straight to B: relevant work experience.

A) Yoga teaching experience:

  1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
  2. State your role and the time period you worked there
  3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there


For example:

  • Lotus Yoga Studio | Barcelona, Spain 
    Yin & Vinyasa Yoga Teacher | September 2020 – current
    Thorough class preparation for multi-level classes and daily studio set-up
    Sequencing and designing creative classes according to seasonal themes
    Monthly teacher assistant at recurring moon ritual workshops
    Nurturing student-teacher relationships by making an effort to get to know each individual
    Encouraging new students to join Lotus Yoga Studio through social media and word-of-mouth 

B) Work-experience:

Here you’ll write down every other job that has contributed to your skills development. Think of jobs that display the knowledge you have of specific material or programmes. It could be experience with a specific group of people or jobs that display you show initiative and are a team player.

These experiences might only be linked by ‘transferable skills’. These are skills which you originally developed for one role, but can be applied directly to another role. For example, my first job was in administration for a language school. I learned skills for booking classes/courses, writing formally, taking and recording payments and filing documents. My next job was a receptionist at a yoga centre. The fields are completely different, but my root skills were valuable for both roles.

  1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
  2. State your role and the time period you worked there
  3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there 

For example:

  • International Language School  – Seville, Spain
    Front-Desk Agent – June 2019 – September 2020
    • Responsible for booking private and group classes with software such as Sutra, Mindbody, and Moomoo yoga
    • Marketing, communication and public relations on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram)
    • Customer service: register new students, answer phone calls, answer questions about the curriculum, and give recommendations

4. Training and education

Your yoga teaching certification or the fact you’ve taught yoga classes are not the only thing that will be considered in your application. Here, list all the types of education you have that have built up your current knowledge. They could be diplomas, certificates, continuing education, but also degrees or exams that are relevant for the job you’d like to apply for.

Follow this structure:

  • Course title (classification/level) 
  • Name of the school or education centre
  • Time period

For example: 

  • 200HR Yoga Teacher Training
    Beautiful Soul Studio – Seville, Spain
    June 2019
  • Bachelor of Science – Psychology 
    University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
    September 2014 – May 2019

5. Other skills that are relevant

List here all the skills that are relevant to this teaching job. Think of your technology skills: using Zoom, IG Live, YouTube or other video platforms. You could also include your marketing, communication, organisation, and collaboration skills. 

For example:

  • Social media skills:
    Photo and video editing
    Planoly, Later
    Instagram (all features)
    Facebook Business
    YouTube Studio

  • Teaching skills:
    Creative prop-use
    Trauma informed
    Chair yoga
    Advanced anatomy
    Inclusivity and diversity

I hope this little guide has given you some clarity and helped you to determine what to include when you create your yoga teacher CV. If you’d like to learn more about creating a yoga teacher CV, join us for our English for Yoga Teachers Course. 

In the English for Yoga Teachers Course, we’ll explore important things such as the design, fonts and colours. Whether to include your insurance or Yoga Alliance registration. The type of language and tenses to write in. And we’ll clear up common questions like if you should use a photo and how to find the right synonyms that really describe you and make your CV stand out. In our English for Yoga Teachers Course, I’ll get super specific and explain what more to include and how to create a killer yoga teacher CV. 

Have you (just) finished your yoga teacher training? Seen a teaching opportunity? Or are you looking for a new teaching job? You know you love teaching yoga and you’ve got a lot to offer to yoga studios, schools or even gyms. However, you probably need to hand in your CV (curriculum vitae). In this blog, I’ll give you a step by step plan for what to include in a great yoga teacher CV.   

Writing a yoga teacher CV is a strategic task. Allow yourself to really take all the time you need for it. Before you list all your skills and experiences and call it a day, it’s important to reflect, do some research and find clear answers to the following questions: 

1. What type of establishment are you interested in working for?

(E.g. a yoga school, yoga studio, a gym, a community centre, etc.).

2. What type of classes are you trained in and willing to offer?

(E.g. vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, Yoga Teacher Training material or workshop based activities).

3. What are the core values or mission statement of the establishment you want to apply for?

(E.g. Do they purposefully promote inclusivity? Are their classes geared towards an older audience? Or are they more focused on offering a form exercise?)

4. Who will be receiving your CV?

(E.g. is it a studio owner, a frontdesk assistant or an HR manager?)

5. What type of qualifications, certificates and (continuing) education have you completed to become a teacher?

(E.g. Maybe you’ve obtained a 200 Yoga Teacher Certificate and 50h of continuing education in yogic history).

6. What type of skills and experience do you have that ‘they’ are interested in? 

(E.g. it’s unlikely that your future employer wants to hear about the subjects you took in high school. But they will want to know about your experience working in marketing for a yoga or wellness  brand).

The answers to these questions will help you massively in knowing what to include in your yoga teacher CV. 

Let’s analyse the ‘steps’ to creating your yoga teacher CV.

1. Name & title 

Write down your first name(s), your last name(s) and any titles, letters or pronouns you use. Optionally, you could include the styles of yoga you’re trained in.

For example:

  • Maria Joanna Fernandez Murcia – 200HR RYT* Hatha/Vinyasa
    she / her

*Note: RYT stands for Registered Yoga Teacher / CYT stands for Certified Yoga Teacher.

2. Contact details:

  • Email: if at all possible, try to use a professional email address that’s not something like ‘yolo@hotmail.com
  • Phone: especially if you live or want to apply to work abroad, or you’re on the road, include your country code.
  • Website: this is a great optional feature if you have one.
  • Social media: if you use social media to promote your classes and services, you can include links to your Facebook page and Instagram account. 

Consider deleting any images online that could give off a bad impression, such as party pictures or posts you shared in the past but wouldn’t share now. If you prefer, make your account invisible. Remember there are many employers that will look for you on social media, even if you haven’t provided your links. 

For example:

  • mariayoga@yogamaria.com
    +34 123 456 789
    www.mariayoga.com.es
    @mariayoga

Make sure that all of these details are up-to-date and people can actually reach you. You’ll be surprised to see how often people miss out on great opportunities because they didn’t update their contact details.

3. Teaching & work experience

After you’ve listed your contact details, you’ll describe your teaching experience. Do this in chronological order, from the most recent to the earliest experience. If you haven’t got any teaching experience yet, you can skip part A and go straight to B: relevant work experience.

A) Yoga teaching experience:

  1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
  2. State your role and the time period you worked there
  3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there


For example:

  • Lotus Yoga Studio | Barcelona, Spain 
    Yin & Vinyasa Yoga Teacher | September 2020 – current
    Thorough class preparation for multi-level classes and daily studio set-up
    Sequencing and designing creative classes according to seasonal themes
    Monthly teacher assistant at recurring moon ritual workshops
    Nurturing student-teacher relationships by making an effort to get to know each individual
    Encouraging new students to join Lotus Yoga Studio through social media and word-of-mouth 

B) Work-experience:

Here you’ll write down every other job that has contributed to your skills development. Think of jobs that display the knowledge you have of specific material or programmes. It could be experience with a specific group of people or jobs that display you show initiative and are a team player.

These experiences might only be linked by ‘transferable skills’. These are skills which you originally developed for one role, but can be applied directly to another role. For example, my first job was in administration for a language school. I learned skills for booking classes/courses, writing formally, taking and recording payments and filing documents. My next job was a receptionist at a yoga centre. The fields are completely different, but my root skills were valuable for both roles.

  1. Write down the name of the workplace and their location
  2. State your role and the time period you worked there
  3. List between 2 and 5 of the responsibilities you had. Highlight the skills you gained and your achievements there 

For example:

  • International Language School  – Seville, Spain
    Front-Desk Agent – June 2019 – September 2020
    • Responsible for booking private and group classes with software such as Sutra, Mindbody, and Moomoo yoga
    • Marketing, communication and public relations on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram)
    • Customer service: register new students, answer phone calls, answer questions about the curriculum, and give recommendations

4. Training and education

Your yoga teaching certification or the fact you’ve taught yoga classes are not the only thing that will be considered in your application. Here, list all the types of education you have that have built up your current knowledge. They could be diplomas, certificates, continuing education, but also degrees or exams that are relevant for the job you’d like to apply for.

Follow this structure:

  • Course title (classification/level) 
  • Name of the school or education centre
  • Time period

For example: 

  • 200HR Yoga Teacher Training
    Beautiful Soul Studio – Seville, Spain
    June 2019
  • Bachelor of Science – Psychology 
    University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
    September 2014 – May 2019

5. Other skills that are relevant

List here all the skills that are relevant to this teaching job. Think of your technology skills: using Zoom, IG Live, YouTube or other video platforms. You could also include your marketing, communication, organisation, and collaboration skills. 

For example:

  • Social media skills:
    Photo and video editing
    Planoly, Later
    Instagram (all features)
    Facebook Business
    YouTube Studio

  • Teaching skills:
    Creative prop-use
    Trauma informed
    Chair yoga
    Advanced anatomy
    Inclusivity and diversity

I hope this little guide has given you some clarity and helped you to determine what to include when you create your yoga teacher CV. If you’d like to learn more about creating a yoga teacher CV, join us for our English for Yoga Teachers Course

In the English for Yoga Teachers Course, we’ll explore important things such as the design, fonts and colours. Whether to include your insurance or Yoga Alliance registration. The type of language and tenses to write in. And we’ll clear up common questions like if you should use a photo and how to find the right synonyms that really describe you and make your CV stand out. In our English for Yoga Teachers Course, I’ll get super specific and explain what more to include and how to create a killer yoga teacher CV. 

Listen to our podcast: What to Include Your Yoga Teacher CV

Continuing Education Membership

In the meantime, check out our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers. This membership offers professional and personal development for yoga teachers that have a vision and want to start teaching worldwide; online or abroad. Every month we have a special training, including how to write a successful your CV and Cover Letter. Have a look at all that’s included here.

Your learning style is unique (incl. free worksheet)

Teaching and learning methods vary from country to country, and from school to school. However, most of us are educated in relatively big groups. As a result, school systems have to try to meet the needs of every ‘type’ of student. That means that all learning styles, learning outcomes and assessments are standardised. A bit like hats, they’re ‘one size fits all’. However, your learning style is unique

The aim of this blog is to help you reflect on your past and on current education systems. You’ll think  more about how you and others process information. This might help you consider other ways to work and study more productively. If you’re a teacher, it will also help you understand your students’ needs better. 

To do so, there are journal questions at the end of each section which you can use for guidance. Download the worksheet here so that every time you see “Go to journal questions” you can make the most of your learning experience . 


Go to journal questions (A) You can download your worksheet here.

Our brains function in unique ways 

They determine how we receive and process different kinds of information. Think of a maths problem. One student will find playing with the numbers and equations a logical thing that simply makes sense. But another student will struggle to connect those figures to any kind of meaning, leaving them unable to find the correct answer.

It’s likely that the gap in their experiences is due to the students’ natural ways of thinking. And the fact that their learning style is unique. We naturally relate more to some types of activities and ideas than we do to others.

Finding something difficult doesn’t mean you will never be able to do it. What’s important is to find the right way for you to absorb the information. It’s finding out your brain’s preferred way of processing it. Once you know that, you might know how to approach a task better. You might also be able to reconsider how you present tasks or instructions to your students.

Giving us all information in the same way puts us as individuals in different, and unequal, positions. This is why school is a difficult experience for so many people but an easy one for others. It isn’t just about ability. It depends on your unique learning style. 

Answer these questions with the intention of understanding how you are as a student. This will help you see if there are better ways for you to work. It will also help you practise analysing how other people process tasks and information.


Go to journal questions (B)!You can download your worksheet here..

What is neurodiversity?

Until now,  this blog has only referred to learning style variations that are really only ‘neurotypical’ ways of thinking and interpreting information. Neurotypical means not associated with a brain condition, such as autism which affects a person’s interpretation of information. So, it can describe a person who doesn’t have a brain condition or characteristic like this. 

Although these concepts aren’t black and white, in linguistic terms, the opposite could be  ‘neurodivergent’. A neurodivergent brain learns information and functions in less common ways. This could include people with autism, dyslexia or dyscalculia, for example. ‘Less common’ but more common than we might think. 

In order to accommodate everyone’s way of thinking and learning, we must talk about ‘neurodiversity’.  Neurodiversity is the idea that people have many different types of brains, perhaps characterised by a particular condition. It also refers to the idea that this variety should be considered a normal part of human life.  

Whether a person identifies as neurotypical, neurodivergent, or something in between, there are ways of providing education that suits everyone. We know enough about how brains function to move away from such a standardised system for teaching and learning. Perhaps the first step to this is normalising neurodiversity; the fact that our brains are not ‘one size fits all’.  

What does this have to do with my unique learning style? 

These things face  a similar root problem. Our education systems rely on a version of ‘normality’ which excludes many people based on the way their brains function. But I believe that the way our brains work is too complex for us to consider them either ‘typical’ or ‘atypical’; ‘normal’ or ‘abnormal’. 

Normality suggests there’s one way of being and this isn’t true. What’s really normal is extremely varied and diverse. Imagine if our brain diversity was normalised. There would be a better understanding of how each person’s learning style is unique, whether or not they identify as having a specific brain condition or characteristic. 

Perhaps, as teachers, our awareness of this can stop us from treating individuals as if they are ‘different’, and a bigger group as ‘all the same’. We can communicate that everyone’s brain and learning style is unique, and that doesn’t have to be an obstacle.

Nowadays we  know how to make classes, schools, shops and websites more accessible for our neurodiversity and different learning styles. Surely it’s a realistic expectation also that we, as a society, can learn about learning diversity and the basic aspects of neurodiversity. We’ll see  that these variations are already normal. We need to see it that way, and adapt our systems to everyone’s unique learning style

Go to journal questions (C)! You can download your worksheet here.

Your schooling might have neglected your learning style

Actually, if we consider the huge scale of neurodiversity and different characteristics of different learning styles, it probably did. Unfortunately, mass education systems don’t have the luxury of time and resources that allow teachers to deal with your unique learning style, and everyone else’s. So, we grow up in similar school systems, with similar rules and similar techniques, which generally constitute one standardised way of learning. Reflect on how they taught you. Think back to your school days, or the early days of your education. How did you have to learn? Common methods are drilling, memorisation and written tests. 


Go to journal questions (D)! You can download your worksheet here.

What’s your best way of learning?

Most of us use a mixture of different methods when we’re trying to learn something. That’s often why some people fall behind in their education experience – their learning needs aren’t catered for as much as those of some other students. 

We are not like each other. We don’t learn the same way, so it’s important that we know what learning methods work best for us. To learn what you want to, and do what you want to do, you’ll need to get inside your brain! Reflect on how you enjoy learning. Assess how your brain likes to find information. How do you record that information in order to come back to it? And what kind of information catches your eye? 

Go to journal questions (E) on your worksheet! You can download your worksheet here.

Use the following useful links to do the research for these questions.

Find out some more on learning styles:

Find out more about neurodivergent characteristics and what this means in the workplace:

If you want to learn more about this, soon we’ll talk about reprogramming your idea of learning. On our online learning platform, you’ll find more materials such as quizzes to explore the topic further. We’ll also look at how you can use yoga as a learning tool! You’ll be able to reflect on how you think you learn and what you expect from yourself. Maybe you can reassess your expectations to make your work and study goals more realistic. Hopefully you’ll also see how yoga can make a further positive impact on your life, and the lives of your students. More about this coming (in September 2021).


(Note: The aim of this is to reflect; to open our minds and ask questions about the learning experience in order to develop as teachers. We are not inclusivity experts, doctors, speech therapists, sociologists or psychologists! Find approved courses and reliable educational sources if you want to get professional development in specific areas.)

Continuing Education Membership

In the meantime, check out our Continuing Education Membership for multilingual yoga teachers. This membership offers professional and personal development for yoga teachers that have a vision and want to start teaching worldwide; online or abroad. Have a look at all that’s included here.

3 Things yoga teachers often neglect or forget

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. 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!
  4. 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.

 

To summarise

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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