What Happens Next?
If you’ve had a positive experience, you’re probably riding the yoga-bliss wave that comes off the back of YTT. You feel fit, strong, healthy, confident in your newfound abilities, and excited to go home and share what you’ve learned with your friends and family.
But what happens next – when you get home, your golden island tan starts to fade, and you find yourself catapulted back into the daily grind? The answer to this question can widely vary from one trainee to another. Some people enter into a teacher training with absolutely no desire to teach yoga afterwards – they are just interested in growing their self-practice and learning in a new setting. Others may be interested in making a change to their work environment and seeing if teaching yoga could somehow be a part of that, but they’re not quite sure how exactly. And some people feel a strong pull towards teaching for a long time before they take the plunge and commence training, so they may already have some idea of how to utilize their new skill set in an employment context.
For many of us, however, it can be a little overwhelming figuring out where to start if we want to teach yoga to others. Yoga is a booming industry – no matter where you are in the world, there are likely to be hundreds of teachers and studios in relatively close proximity, all offering vastly different styles of asana practice and yoga philosophy. How do you work out where you fit in to the wide world of yoga? What kind of teacher do you want to be? How do you start working as a teacher? Read on, dear friends, for some of the things I’ve found helpful as a recent All Yoga graduate.
1. Practice, Practice, Practice
There’s a reason why this is number one… your practice needs to come first. Sometimes when you start teaching, you stop practicing – mainly because all of a sudden you’re spending a significant number of hours each week growing a small business. Even if you only intend to teach ‘on the side’ there are still plenty of little tasks that you’ll find to keep you busy – getting your insurance, renewing your first aid, hiring a teaching space, sending your CV to studios, marketing yourself (ever tried to make your own website on the cheap? Where did those hours even go?)….the list goes on!
It’s easy to get caught up in the first flush of ‘new teacher’ tasks, and completely forget the most important thing of all – YOUR yoga practice. The reason why you come to the mat. The essence of what you want to share with others. Carve out time to continue working on the elements of your own yoga practice that will make you a well-rounded teacher. Practice everything that you intend to teach. If you want to teach pranayama, practice pranayama. If you want to drop spiritual bombs in class, read yoga philosophy and find out what resonates with you. The best teacher is an eternal student.
2. Don’t Take A Breather
It’s unlikely that you’ll walk out of your teacher training feeling like a seasoned pro, with an unshakeable confidence to teach yoga to a packed room of students. However, even if you don’t feel ready to teach yet, there’s one great reason why you should, and right away: momentum. All that heart-opening confidence and self-assurance that you developed on your training can really help to propel you forward into teaching. Harness the waves of positive energy that you created during YTT and just get out there and teach before you have time to doubt yourself or over-think it too much.
You can start by teaching friends and family, offering donation classes to schools and community groups, or maybe getting together with some fellow teachers and planning a workshop. At first, you might feel awkward and shaky when teaching – that’s totally normal. It really takes time to develop your style, voice, and deliver meaningful and cohesive classes – don’t be shocked if it doesn’t feel easy at first! But just like your own yoga practice, teaching will become more familiar if you remember the golden rule: keep showing up.
3. Make Some New Friends
Yes, yoga is a business, and in order to grow your business you’ll want to do some networking. Personally, I love networking – I’ve always just seen it as making friends, which it basically is! Creating networks is primarily about identifying like-minded individuals or organizations, whose values align with yours, and then developing a relationship. Luckily we live in a digital age where it’s possible to do a lot of networking online.
Sign up to e-newsletters from nearby yoga studios, enroll in workshops, attend classes, and get to know your local yoga community. When you’re attending yoga events, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and tell people what you’re all about. I’ve found that the global yoga community is so supportive of graduate yoga teachers – there’s no need to be intimidated because we’re all here to help each other! And by immersing yourself in the community around you, there will always be a fresh dose of inspiration around the corner – maybe you’ll notice a teacher using a really interesting transition in a class that will encourage you to broaden your own class sequencing. Perhaps you’ll see a studio offering some great deals to beginner students that will get you thinking about different ways to package private classes.
4. Put Yourself Out There
This one will really vary from one person to another, but generally speaking, in order to attract private students and studio work you’re going to need to write a decent biography and have your picture taken. Just like applying for any other job, a yoga job application will consist of a CV, possibly a cover letter and a website/social media link. Work out what your priorities are: do you want to create a Facebook business page, a website, an Instagram?
In the age of content-driven media, it’s super helpful to develop a good online presence and keep your content up to date. Of course, it’s not essential and word of mouth will always be the hallmark of any good business — but I’m guessing that when a friend recommends a studio to you, the first thing you do is Google it, am I right?
5. Make Time for Your Business
Lastly, it’s important to remember that many of us will teach yoga as a second job, and with everything that we already fit into our daily lives, it can be a challenge to find the time to grow a yoga business. I found it really helpful to try to set aside a couple of hours a week to identify my yoga-related business goals, outline steps to achieve them, and then chip away at those steps gradually.
Usually on a Sunday afternoon or first thing Monday morning I’ll sit down, look at my class commitments for the week, prep my classes, set an intention for my teaching, and maybe do some online research/networking. Then the week can pretty much just happen and I don’t have to worry about running out of time for ‘yoga stuff’ because it’s already done!
Last of all, remember to have fun and just be yourself! There’s nobody else in the world who is going to teach like you, so celebrate your uniqueness, get out there and start sharing your love for yoga with the world.