The time has absolutely flown by since I first ventured out to yoga teacher training. It has been filled with one class after another – a constant stream of students striving to do their best. There have been mishaps and adventures as I found my voice as an instructor and within the ranks of teachers that surround me day after day. There have been times I couldn’t imagine doing anything else and times that I thought that there must be something else.
Looking back, the teacher that taught her first class in November 2011 had no idea what she was getting herself into. I thought I was fully prepared and that I knew what this career was. But, admittedly, it is much more than I ever imagined.
Becoming a yoga teacher is complicated and beautiful, it is simple and ugly. It is life – everything rolled into one large kaleidoscope of color and noise that can bring out the best of you on most days and the worst of you on others.
If you are contemplating becoming a yoga instructor, have already signed up and are awaiting the start of your training, or maybe you are in the thick of training right now and wondering what to expect on the road ahead, I thought I would share with you the things that I wish someone would have told me as I prepared to teach.
Teacher Training is just the beginning.
You will leave teacher training with a large knowledge base of the class they are preparing you to lead, but you still have so much to learn. Do not leave teacher training and think that you know it all. You know the basics. Get in front of as many master/senior teachers as possible, as often as possible and continue your education.
What Am I Doing Tomorrow?
There is something about the random schedule of a yoga teacher that makes the lifestyle somewhat addictive. Sure, I have some classes throughout the week that I teach every week like clockwork, but they are peppered amongst the random classes I was scheduled for, the private lessons that were booked, and the workshop that I created, that makes every day slightly different and fun. I could not imagine taking a job that was the same routine every single day – it would make me feel slightly insane.
Teaching in Your Sleep.
The mind never stops teaching. I woke up last night and my mind was saying, “Focus on the stretch across the shoulder. Kick further back to increase the stretch.” The night before I caught my mind spinning with, “Go back, way back, more back.” I thought this would go away after the first year of teaching, but it hasn’t.
Yoga, Yoga, YOGA.
When you are not practicing yoga or teaching yoga, you will find that you are thinking about yoga – your practice, your students, your studio, the relative that really needs the yoga, but won’t come to class, etc.
There are more politics and drama in the world of yoga than you could ever imagine.
Stay out of it. That is my advice to you. Make choices that are best for you. Follow your heart and your gut instinct. Do your best to focus on what is most important – sharing the yoga with as many people as possible in a positive way so that they roll out their mat the following day and try again. Everything else is just noise.
You get very used to the funky smell of sweat.
If something stinks to you, it must really stink. Take care of that.
Students will look at you throughout class with faces of pain, faces that look positively pissed off, and faces of sorrow.
It is not about you. It usually isn’t even about the posture they are working on. They don’t know they are doing it. Ignore it if you can.
You should be paid well for each class you teach.
Earning money is an energy exchange. You teach a great class and give your energy to those students and the studio, and you should get energy back. In our society, the way an employer does that is by paying the teacher money. There are few situations in which you teach for free, such as, donation classes, or further education classes, in which you will learn how to be a better teacher. That also being said, wealth is about more than money. Your life will be filled with so much beauty. You will be one of the lucky few. You will have gained true wealth on many levels.
You are a business owner.
Yup. You are. Most yoga teachers are contractors, not employees, and, therefore, it is imperative you work on YOUR business. If you don't know how to get started, find a coach or someone you trust to point you in the right direction. There are many ways to run your business and opportunities available to you that you may be overlooking. When your business is working well, you have the ability to reach more people and help to heal and inspire a community.
Prepare to fall in love.
Your students will mean more to you than I can ever express to you. You will fall in love with so many people – their stories, their obstacles, their willingness to overcome it all – that you won’t know what to do with yourself. And that in the end makes everything worth it. It’s what makes this career choice, a great one.
Tori Hicks-Glogowski is a yoga instructor and yoga business coach and mentor for yoga teachers. She is the author of the book, "Views from the Podium: The Life & Times of a Hot Yogi," and has been writing and sharing her yoga experience for the past seven years. Find out more about Tori now.