As I’m sure you’ve noticed, yoga instruction can really vary from instructor to instructor. Part of this has to do with the lineage of yoga they are teaching (Bikram, Iyengar, Power etc), the studio where they are instructing, their education, and their experience. However, even within a specific lineage and studio there are many different ‘styles’ of yoga instructors.
What do I mean by ‘style’? Style means a manner of doing something or a distinctive appearance. In regards to yoga instruction, how does that particular instructor present themselves and their teaching. How do they guide you? What aspects of the yoga practice to they emphasize? Are they fun and silly throughout class? Or maybe thoughtful and spiritual? Do they focus on anatomy with clear, easy-to-follow instruction or are they more concentrated on philosophy?
As a new instructor it can be difficult to find your style and ease into your true spirit of teaching. In the beginning you often take on the style of your main teachers. This is a wonderful place to start. However, eventually your teaching needs to come from you. When you find your dharma (life’s purpose) and you are able to teach from this place of connection, your teaching style will really shine. Here are some tips to help you find your own unique voice.
- Emphasize what you love!– There are many different aspects to the yogic path. Teach what really motivates and inspires you. If you love the philosophy, weave that into your classes. If you are driven by anatomy then really study the human body. Share what you know and love… your students will love you for it.
- Trust your heart and your intuition- Your teaching style will resonant with your students more if it is authentic. People can tell if you are trying to copy someone or something else. When you are new to teaching this step can be very challenging because you are nervous and busy trying to get everything ‘right’ throughout your class. The best way to tap into your heart and intuition is to make sure that you are calm and collected when you teach. Get to the studio early and meditate before you teach. Then, when you are teaching, trust your intuition about what to say or how to guide your students. If something comes up, say it. There will be some misfires but with time you will be able to fine-tune the ability to say what needs to be said J
- You can’t be all things to all people- There is a lineage of yoga for everyone and there is a yoga instructor for everyone. It is important that we have many different types of instructors to help serve all the different types of people in this beautiful world. If you are authentic and teach from the heart then students will be drawn to you. Not all students will like your style and that is ok. Be true to who you are and what you have to offer the world. Know that you will develop your own following over time.
- Take classes from a wide range of instructors and lineages- Exposing yourself to various teaching styles and lineages will help you to stay inspired. It will also fine-tune what you like and don’t like. You will naturally start to absorbed ideas and thoughts that suit your teaching and unique offering. Of course you don’t want to mimic the other instructors, still be true to yourself.
- Be open to change- Your teaching style will change over the years. Embrace that. As we grow so will our teaching. As you change you might lose students. This is perfectly normal, don’t let it scare you. These students will go on to find a teacher who is better suited for them at that time and you will have other students find you. This is the constant ebb and flow that is life.
If I could sum it all up…. Don’t try to fit in a box, made by yourself or others. Be true to yourself and teach from your heart. Basically, practice your yoga (your connection with yourself and others) and all will be well.