You’ve just graduated and you’re ready to take the yoga world by storm, but sometimes it can feel a little tricky to find your voice and stay true to it. Although there may be days where it feels tricky this is the moment you’ve been working towards, so stick it out and you will find your voice and in the meantime here are a few things I wish I’d known in those early days.
I taught my first public class in a gym the day after I graduated from my teacher training. It was a whirlwind, quite literally, the pacing was too fast, I spoke too fast, the whole class was too fast for the students, but they didn’t complain. I had been going to that class as a student for a few years and that community was there for me. Sure, they were exhausted by the end, but they supported me in my journey and after their initiation by yogi fire, they were rewarded with a gentler class the next month when I was covering again. This unwavering support that they showed me, letting me back in time and time again, even as their permanent teacher one summer, helped me grow in my early stages of teaching.
When you graduate teacher training, it is a little like graduating university, you leave with a brain full of information, some experience of how to apply it, but none in the real world. Your voice as a teacher is shaped so much when you start to teach your own classes. When I first graduated sure I could teach an excellent class, structured and queued to perfection, but the depth the character was missing. Your yoga teacher skills are a little like a fine wine, great when first bottled and you wouldn’t know you were missing anything until you tasted the wine after aging. And oh boy after some aging your teaching skills will be incomparable to the great wine you once were.
"Always remember your students haven't seen the picture-perfect class in your head"
There are classes where it all goes wrong, the timing, the playlist, the equipment, your left and right (I’m sure that isn’t just me), but these classes are the ones we can learn from. We can learn how to adapt and teach off the cuff; how to make jokes about the power cut or the spider in the room. After a few months or perhaps years you will become so used to this that it will all be second nature. And please trust me on this, no matter how far from perfect you felt your class was, your students loved it, really, they did. Always remember they have not seen the picture-perfect class in your head, they have come to your class because they like you and your teaching. All they want and need is for you to guide them through the session and hold the space, and if that includes carrying spiders out the room while cueing a vinyasa, well they’ll be up for that, (yes this actually happened to me).
If I have one thing for you to know as a teacher in your early days, your students are enjoying your class more than you know.
Enjoy shaping your voice, and remember we never stop being students, even as teachers.