8 Lessons I Learned as a New Yoga Instructor
My name is Caiti Moran and I am a recent YogaFit Level 1 graduate. I learned during Level 1 that YogaFit requires trainees to complete 8 hours of yoga community service. For this, I chose to teach at the YMCA in Westwood. My classes were taught to a variety of people -- each week I had almost a whole different group of people. Community teaching helped me learn how to teach variations of poses & modifications. The groups I worked with actually taught ME a lot, which I hadn't necessarily expected.
I learned that teaching yoga is VERY different than practicing yoga. Just a short two months ago I began teaching yoga, it is amazing to me how much I have learned already! YogaFit requires all new Level 1 trainees to complete eight hours of Community Service. Here is what I learned through the process:
1. It’s okay to be nervous - I feel butterflies before every single class I teach. Granted, I’m a new yoga instructor, so nerves are normal -- I have only taught eight yoga classes in my career so far. More experienced teachers claim the butterflies never fully go away. Plus, a little bit of discomfort is a good thing! It means we are constantly pushing our limits and stepping outside of our comfort zones.
2. Truly be present in the room - After teaching my very first yoga class, I realized one crazy thing: I barely remembered what happened while I was teaching. I was not fully present in the room. I was caught up in my own head, trying my hardest to remember what came next in my flow and completely focused on simply making it to the end of class. I’ll give myself a hall pass on this one: after all, it was my first public class. After realizing I had no recollection of what was going on in the room, I vowed that I would make more of a conscious effort to be fully present in the room each time I teach.
3. Project your voice and keep your language crisp and clear – To be honest, public speaking is a huge fear of mine. When teaching, one must project his/her voice to fill the room. It is also important to keep our language as crisp and clear as possible. This helps students listen and move in sync with your cues. Try removing filler words like “now we’re going to do this” or “come to find chair pose.” instead we can cue more directly by saying “Finding chair pose.” I am definitely still working on this one, but I know it will come with more experience!
4. Don’t take things too personally - Remember, you don’t know what type of baggage your students bring into class with them. I left a few classes thinking something like “Wow, that girl in the front seriously hated my class” or “No one smiled or laughed at my dumb jokes. What gives?!” but then I remind myself that I have no idea what’s going on in that person’s life or what brought these students to their mats that day. As the YogaFit essence reminds us: We are letting go of judgement, for myself and others. All I can do is show up, offer the best that I have and hope that students take what they need from it.
5. You’re going to mess up sometimes - Yep. You are definitely going to mess up. Lefts and rights are confusing. Sometimes I forget the names of body parts. It’s okay. Own your mistakes. Be human. Laugh it off. Move forward.
6. Breathe - One of the best ways to stay grounded and present in the moment is to actually breathe with the class. When I cue a pose and say “Staying here for three deep breaths,” I take those three deep breaths with the class. It’s a great way for me to manage class time and how long students have been in a pose, which also helps me stay calm and focused.
7. Be a student first, always - Even though I’m now a teacher, I vow to never lose my love of being a yoga student. I continue to practice five times per week and continue to educate myself through workshops, training and reading. I find now that I need yoga more than ever to help me stay grounded!
8. Be YOU - Perhaps the most simple, yet also most complicated lesson of all: be authentically you. Let your true self shine. YOU bring something unique and special that only you can bring to your class. Embrace it and own it.
Here’s to many more years of teaching & learning!
Love, Light & Namaste – Caiti Moran
Level 1 is the first step on the path toward becoming a yoga teacher or simply deepening your practice, here YogaFit provides the tools to create inspiring vinyasa yoga classes grounded in proper alignment and the safety of exercise science.
Note: In order to receive a Certificate of Completion for Level One, you must also complete eight hours of practice teaching as a community service, in which you bring the gift of yoga, free of charge, to individuals who would not normally be exposed to yoga on a regular basis.