If you read this article, chances are that you have made it through your first yoga teacher training. Congratulations and welcome to the next step in your yoga journey!
Hopefully, you took a couple of days or weeks to relax. (I know how intensive a yoga teacher training can get.)
If you stewed for a while and started asking yourself
What the heck shall I do next?
Here are three important tips that will help you start the career of a yoga teacher.
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Yes, you can officially call yourself a yoga teacher now.
It might be scary at the beginning. There are so many would-be yoga instructors taking a yoga training course at the moment.
But don't worry! The world of yoga may be vast, but it's still growing.
A recent yoga study from Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal concluded that 30 million Americans were practicing yoga in 2016. That is 28% more than in 2012.
Plus this is just in the US. Think about the number of people practicing yoga in the whole world.
So instead of worrying about landing the yoga job of your dreams right away, here are three useful (and more practical) things you could do when you've finished your first yoga teacher program.
Jump starting your yoga career without a plan is like driving a car without a license. You might be able to manage, but chances are high that you will hit something.
The first thing you should do now is to reflect, reflect, reflect.
You probably signed up for the teacher training with some expectations and dreams.
So a good starting point would be to ask yourself:
Hopefully, you have an excellent memory, or you wrote your intentions down in your yoga journal before the program.
In my course, I've met lots of people who wanted to become a yoga instructor in the future. They signed up for the teacher training just to realize they don't really want to teach.
Does this mean they haven't benefited from the course? Sure not. If they hadn't done the course, there's a high chance they would've kept on dreaming of becoming a yoga teacher.
Whether something like this happened to you or not, now is the perfect time to readjust your pre-training goals.
You've looked back on your yoga teacher training, set your goals straight, got your intentions clear. It's time to act.
(If you're not planning on becoming a yoga teacher, you can skip the first two steps and move straight to step three.)
If you've done a YA certified teacher training, you are now illegible to register yourself as a yoga teacher with the Yoga Alliance.
Although in recent years there has been a lot of negativity about them, it can be very beneficial for you as a yoga teacher in the future. Just some of the perks you can get from registering with YA: free online workshops, affiliate discounts for yoga products and insurance, scholarships, etc.
Moreover, they also keep a record of your teaching hours. This may sound unnecessary, but it can help you to easily track your progress as a teacher.
From my experience, this is one of the best ways to start building your career as a yoga teacher.
As I said before, there are a lot of yoga instructors out there. Opening your own yoga studio straight after the teacher training is hard and costly. Instead, what you can do is look for an internship at your local yoga schools.
In fact, this is how I started.
When I came back from my yoga teacher training, my former yoga instructor invited me to teach at her studio. This was a non-paid gig, but I was lucky to get a place to hone my teaching skills and gain some real-life experience. Besides, there's not much pressure on you as a teacher since students will know that you've just finished your course.
After getting to know the ropes of yoga teaching, I started reaching out to other yoga schools and expanding my professional network.
The more yoga instructors I got to know, the more teaching opportunities I had. And the truth is, the jobs just came to me.
My commitment, curiosity, desire to improve and learn from more experienced yoga professionals as well as the ability to show up despite what's happening in my personal life resulted in four teaching job offers in three different cities only during my first year.
This applies to anyone, whether you're planning to teach or not.
Keep on practicing.
Just because you've completed a yoga teacher training course doesn't mean that you know everything (and enough!).
There is still so much to learn. Being a yoga student is a truly lifelong journey.
Besides maintaining a steady yoga practice, participate in workshops, attend seminars. Not only will they promote your self-development, but they will also help you with your teaching.
Everyone has some invaluable knowledge to offer. Retain a beginner's mind, look for inspiration, and hit that yoga mat!
Yoga is a holistic system with centuries of history and philosophy. While there's probably more to it than yoga books can offer, the fact that there are so many of them out there just reinforces the fact that there is a whole world of knowledge for yoga teachers to tap into.
A lot of yoga teacher training courses require you to do quite a lot of reading. They all offer a good list of recommended yoga books, especially for learning human anatomy and proper alignment.
But your reading list shouldn't be limited to the physical aspect of yoga only.
You can choose to simply teach the physical postures - asanas, but that's merely the tip of the iceberg that you'll be offering to your students.
So my advice is to read as much as possible. Learn about the philosophy behind the practice, the subtle energy, the mindfulness. Most importantly, try to practice what you learn from yoga texts - that includes off-the-mat yoga practice as well.
Trust me, your students will feel your commitment.
Because the continuous thirst for knowledge and development is what distinguishes an average teacher from a good teacher.
Don't forget to keep breathing yourself.
There are more and more stories on the Internet about yoga teachers getting burned out.
Because many of us don't understand that teaching yoga is not the same as practicing yoga. Your breath will not always be in sync with the poses you are doing, as you'll be cueing them for your class. You have to keep an eye on students, instead of drawing your attention inside and focusing on yourself.
Besides, yoga teachers often give classes in different studios across the city. Constantly moving around and commuting can add up to the stress of our already hectic lives.
This is why it's so important for yoga teachers to relax.
Keep a steady personal yoga practice and don't neglect taking breaks. For example, if possible, go for a cup of tea in-between yoga classes. It's as simple as that, but it will make a massive difference in how you feel in the long term.
I know you probably want to give as many classes as you can give. I myself was working a full-time job and teaching 4-6 classes a week. At some point though, I decided that every holiday period I skip on teaching but instead spend that precious time with friends.
With that said, it's up to you to find the work-life balance. The ideal scenario would be to learn from the experience of other yoga teachers who had a burn-out. But we're living in the real world where ideal scenarios are scarce, if not non-existent.
So stay vigilant and don't ignore your body and mind. If you're constantly exhausted and frustrated, these are strong signals that you've gone too far, and it's time to readjust your schedule.
You've done an amazing job of graduating from the yoga teacher training program. I wish you all the luck on this amazing journey! New accomplishments and challenges will arise. So stay strong, and stay brave. And if you keep an open and curious mind, I'm sure you will keep on standing firm.
How was your yoga teacher training program? Share with us your challenges and accomplishments in the comments below!