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Yoga is a profound and life-altering practice that benefits so many, and for those of us called to become Yoga Teachers, it is this passion that calls us to share the practices that have been monumental for us. 

Bridging the gap from Yoga student to Yoga Teacher can often be a deep journey; taking a 200-hour training is just the beginning of the journey.

Whether you’re planning to become a full-time Yoga Teacher or considering building Teaching Yoga into your current lifestyle, here are some things we wish we’d known before we started teaching Yoga.

How to prepare to teach your first yoga class

Teaching a yoga class is not like teaching any other class. Yoga goes beyond teaching simple movements for your students to repeat.

It is about transmitting the philosophy and lifestyle of yoga to a group of people who want to learn but are still unfamiliar with the life of yoga.

To get to the point of teaching your first yoga class, you need to become a yoga instructor first:

Once you’ve got it, you’re ready to teach your first class, but it’s good to remember a few tips before you start.

8 things to know before teaching your first class as a yoga instructor

The day of your first class is approaching and your nerves are growing. Will your students love you or will they see you as just another teacher?

Well, to make sure it’s the former, it’s ideal that you heed these 8 tips:

1. To become a better teacher, you must teach.

The only way to build confidence in your voice, style, and authenticity as a teacher is to step into the role of teaching. It’s so easy to fall into a pattern of telling ourselves we’ll be ready when we’ve taken advanced training, completed x amount of years with our personal practice, mastered Pincha Myurasana, or some other expectation.

During a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training, you will deepen your practice and have the opportunity to practice teaching in a safe and welcoming container.

To get to the point of teaching your first yoga class, you need to become a yoga instructor first:

These teaching practicals are invaluable confidence boosters to get you comfortable in the role of a teacher.

However, you may not feel fully confident in the role of a teacher when you finish your training, but that’s okay and quite normal.

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After all, you’ve gone from not teaching to teaching full 60 or 90-minute classes in just a few weeks.

For most of us, exploring and finding our groove and voice as a teacher takes time. You’ll find the art of teaching constantly evolving. 

2. Practice what you preach.

Many teachers will tell you to be prepared to teach more than you practice.

While this may be the case, maintaining your personal practice will help you feel more embodied in what you offer.

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What that practice looks like will be entirely different for each individual. Be realistic in managing your expectations of yourself. 

3. You can’t be everyone’s teacher! 

Once you start teaching, you’ll have students who love your classes and make a special effort to come every week, and you may also have students who only come to class once and don’t see them again

Every yoga teacher will experience this.

Have you ever read a book someone else recommended but you couldn’t get into? Or eaten at a restaurant your family raved about only to find it lackluster, watched a film your partner loved but you merely tolerated? Yoga is the same.

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A Yoga class is an opportunity to guide practitioners through an inner journey of the self. Your particular style of guiding might not be for everyone, and as much as the people-pleasing voice in the back of your mind might want everyone to love every class you teach, that might not be the case. 

Letting go of the idea of pleasing your audience, there is more space for authenticity in your offering to shine through.

4. Know the scope of your practice and honor it

As a yoga teacher, your role is to guide students through an experience of the self; you are not – a doctor, a physiotherapist, a masseuse, a pre-natal advisor, or a therapist. 

Yoga classes can be incredibly intimate spaces where students feel connected to you on emotional and spiritual levels.

Building a community of students who feel:

  • Comfortable
  • Supported
  • And encouraged

in your classes is essential.

This also opens doorways to students knowingly or not pressing against your boundaries. 

➡️ Be aware of your scope of practice

Meaning what is and is not within your remit to offer advice or support.

You may have an extensive background in physiotherapy, so when a student comes to you with a knee that needs rehabbing after surgery, you may feel well-informed to assist.

If that’s not the case, be ok with saying I don’t know or that’s not really my area of expertise. Gently navigating these situations will build student’s trust that they can rely on your honesty. 

➡️ Consider beyond the physical as well

Students will likely experience a myriad of sensations during your class and it’s common that they wish to unpack this with you. Navigating this can be a little more nuanced.

Find the balance between offering a supportive ear and counseling; you will learn how to hold space for someone’s experience without taking it on and also when to set and honor your boundaries if you feel they are being stretched.

5. Plan ahead, but don’t be attached. 

Being prepared for the classes you’re offering is vital; you might spend a few hours perfecting a sequence or organizing a playlist.

Yoga, like life, doesn’t always go to plan; you may have a whole class of beginners at an advanced flow class, or you may be planning an energetic class only to realize when people arrive that’s not at all what is needed, the speaker may lose battery or the playlist go awol.

Navigating these changes with grace is the skill of a yoga teacher, which becomes easier with time.

Being prepared is always helpful, but you will also learn to recognize when to throw out the plan and adapt on the spot. 

6. Making a living as a Yoga Teacher 

It is time for the nitty gritty; you likely came to teaching yoga because of a love for the practice, and honoring that authenticity will shine through as you teach.

However, whether you are looking to teach yoga full-time or part-time, there are some important considerations to make when you’re starting to work as a yoga teacher:

  • You can expect to charge less than established teachers as a new teacher. However, don’t sell yourself short. Be sure to value yourself, your time, and your energy investment; don’t forget about all the training and effort you put into becoming a teacher! 

Getting a gauge on what you should earn as a Yoga Teacher will depend on your area; teaching in a bigger city may well bring in more than in a small town, for instance. Take the time to research the market and discuss options with other teachers in the area.

  • Consider your expenses – taxes, insurance, transit, continuing education, equipment, rent, phone bills, etc.
  • How long does it take to get to where you will be teaching, and what does transportation cost? Remember your energy expenditure as well as monetary. 
  • Once you know roughly how much you can expect to earn, consider how many hours/ days you can realistically work per week.

One important point I want to highlight is to ensure that what you teach is manageable financially and energetically.

When we spread ourselves too thin doing energetic work such as teaching yoga, it is easy to experience burnout or to lose the joy of teaching. Realizing that becoming a full-time yoga teacher might not be feasible for you just yet is ok. It might take some time to establish yourself and find your groove. 

7. Find your community 

Navigating any of the above points becomes much easier when you have the support of a community. A sacred community is formed during teacher training, and these connections often last long after the training has ended.

Leaning on this community and taking the time to make those connections community with other yoga professionals or people working in similar fields in your local area will help you realize you are in no way alone as you navigate these spaces.

Sharing your experience allows others to guide and support you and vice versa. 

Finding people within your community who inspire you and help you grow will significantly impact how you show up in the world.

Try not to think of other teachers in your community as competition; instead, think of them as people aligned with your passions and purpose. 

8. 200-hour is only the beginning of the journey. Allow yourself to grow. 

Students often come away from Yoga Teacher Training inspired to kick start their teachings in many different ways;  you may feel inspired to take continuing education courses (YACEPs) or take advanced training right away.

To get to the point of teaching your first yoga class, you need to become a yoga instructor first:

As a yoga teacher, continuing your evolution by exploring these different paths keeps your offerings’ inspiration, passion, and relevance alive. 

Continuing your education certainly is important. AND so is your integration. A yoga teacher training is a unique experience of personal transformation.

Take the time to integrate what you have learned to cement new ways of being and lifestyle habits. You’ll learn so much in your first few months and years as a yoga teacher that allowing yourself to embrace that process rather than thinking about where you should be is genuinely beneficial.

After these 8 tips, you are ready to teach your first yoga class.

It may feel difficult to navigate sometimes, but teaching yoga is a gift for you and your students. Allow that gift to flow through you as you teach.

Although you can craft a wonderful experience, you cannot be responsible for how the experience is received.

Know that by entering classes with the pure intention of sharing your love and the light of yoga, each person will experience exactly what they need to in your classes.