Be an Authentic Yoga Teacher by Being True to Yourself

Yoga Teacher Authentic
Photo Credit: Benjamin Balázs on Unsplash

‘Find your own voice and be an authentic yoga teacher’. This is one of the most frequent pieces of advice you will be given as you start your yoga teaching career.

Being an authentic yoga teacher means being true to yourself and your own qualities. It is great to source inspiration and direction from our favorite teachers but the key to being an authentic teacher is teaching as ‘you’.

Emulating or copying another teacher’s style can make your own teaching style more rigid and dry. Evolve your own unique style of teaching and you will automatically and naturally maintain your teaching authenticity.

Your personal qualities are the ones that are special to you.  It is your unique approach to teaching that makes you the yoga teacher that youare.  Not anyone else.  Just you.

As your career progresses, it is well worth reviewing and updating your personal mission statement. Remind yourself of your personal qualities and expectations and observe how your practice and teaching is changing.

Here are a few things to consider that will help to keep you and your yoga teaching authentic and grounded.

Humility not Ego

As a yoga teacher you are also a yoga student.  An eternal yoga student. 

Approach your teaching with humility and an open mind.  Learn from your classes and students as this will only enrich your understanding and teaching ability.

When we approach our classes and students with an air of ‘we already know it all’ we are losing the valuable opportunity each class gives us to connect, learn and evolve.

Class example:  Your overly worded verbal cue doesn’t take the students into to form of the pose you were hoping for.  Don’t be scared to smile, rewind and start again with different verbal explanation and demonstration. 

Sense of Humor not Judgement

A sense of humor in class will take you far.  If you can smile and laugh with your students you will create an inclusive and connected learning environment.

Avoid the blank look of judgement when a student can’t physically create the pose or understand your teaching points perfectly.  

Class example: The new student at the back just can’t figure out how to stack her blocks the right way.  Keep the moment lighthearted and go help with a smile so that she feels supported and not self conscious and judged.

It is your own unique qualities make you an authentic yoga teacher

Flaws not Perfection

Yoga practice is called practice for a very good reason – we are always practicing.  We’re always reaching for perfection and for this reason we will always have flaws.  It’s what makes us human.

It’s always great to teach a class that runs smoothly from beginning to end.  The smartly created flow class that glides seamlessly with smooth verbal instruction and a closes with an inspiring and uplifting savasana and blessing is great. But also rare.

It doesn’t matter that you get tongue tied or forget whether you’ve done the right side as well as the left.  This just demonstrates that you are human. It is always useful to have a class plan but allow it to evolve and change direction, if necessary, to accommodate your students’ needs and energy levels.

Class example: A robotically taught class free of any human connection is yoga gymnastics and will miss its yogic point. This can be a major turn off for students in the room wanting to practice a well rounded yoga class.  As a teacher it is healthy to show flaws.  Yoga is a human practice, so be human!

Honesty not Pretense

Be honest with your yogic knowledge.  The physical, philosophical and spiritual.

By being honest in your answers and teaching you are reinforcing your credibility.  Students will respect you for your honesty. Teaching under pretense is not only a disservice to your students but it is also a disservice to yourself and your teaching.

Class example:  If you don’t know the limitations that a very specific medical condition will have on your student’s practice, don’t guess!  Admit you do not know for sure and offer to do some research so that you can teach safely. Your students will appreciate your honesty and commitment to finding out more.

Curiosity not Complacency

Yoga study is never complete.  There is such a vast amount to learn.  Even in our own personal practice we will learn more as our bodies age, our life experiences change and our outlook on life evolves.  

Remaining curious in your yoga practice and teaching ensures that you are always learning and evolving.  There is always more to experience, see and learn.

Class example: You use the same teaching script for every pose and rely on well used sequences.  This is not a bad thing at all as you know what works but by remaining curious and constantly learning you keep your teaching fresh. This can only enrich your teaching skills to ensure that you remain authentic.

In summary, be who you are.  After all, everyone else is taken 🙂

Group of students practicing one downward facing dog on an outside patio.
Photo credit rima kruciene on unsplash

Handknitted Winter Accessories for Cozy Yogis

hand knitted accessories
Photo credit tyler nix on unsplash

Colder days and even colder nights are here. How’s a yogi supposed to stay cozy and warm to and from class? Take a look at these lovely handmade Etsy goodies for keeping cozy yogis toasty for your studio visit and beyond!

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Fingerless gloves

Cozy hand knit fingerless cloves

Don’t forget to cozy up your hands with these warm cable knit fingerless gloves. Add some style to your journey to class.

Wooly hat

Girl wearing cozy knitted hat with pom pom

Remember how your Mom told you that you lose all your heat through your head?! One of these scrumptious knitted hats will keep you stylishly warm and keep Mom happy too!

Snug legwarmers

knitted cable leg warmers

With your yoga leggings being cropped how do you keep those exposed ankles warm? Wearing a pair of supersoft leg warmers will help cozy yogis transition from the chilly outdoors to a warm yoga studio.

Cozy cowl

knitted cowl with 2 buttons

What better than a cozy, handmade cowl to keep your neck warm on your yoga commute? Sure to cuten up any yoga outfit.

Toasty headband

blue and cream hand knitted ear warmers

With your yoga ready ponytail comes exposed little ears. Protect yourself from the Winter elements with this fun, knitted headband.

Keep Cozy with Handcrafted Accessories

Snuggly blanket  

girl reading book on comfy chunky knit blanket

Keeping you cozy for an extended savasana or draped over your shoulders for a seated meditation. Super chunky and warm, this blanket will take you from yoga practice to stylish sofa throw in a heartbeat.

Chunky knit scarf

chunky knit scarf from etsy

We all need one of these scarves in our lives! A super, chunky knit to make Winter days warmer.

Soft infinity scarf

A delicate infinity scarf to snuggle in to. Not a knitted one but a crocheted one – a different craft but still a gotta have accessory!

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Please know that I am an ‘affiliate’ which means that I make a small commission if any products featured here are purchased via this website. As an Etsy shop owner myself,  I’m supporting and promoting Etsy’s talented crafting community.

yogaskinny-dip January 2019

Swimmer taking a skinny-dip in an ocean of yoga news
Photo credit efe kurnaz on unsplash

yogaskinny-dip is a monthly ‘skinny-dip’ in to the ocean of yoga related stuff going on in the yoga world.

Each month, yogaskinny-dip will feature a party bag full of bite size yoga goodies covering everything from interesting articles & book reviews to product launches & events.

Come on in and get the skinny!

1 – ArticleNew York Times – Beginner Yoga

A new year will bring with it lots of people committing to a resolution of trying yoga/coming back to yoga/commiting to yoga.  This New York Times article is a great beginner guide.  Not too flaky and vague but not too overwhelming and intense either.  The perfect balance. A good read for any one new to yoga and looking for clear information to set you on the path.

2 – AudiobookMay I Be Happy by Cyndi Lee

I read ‘May I Be Happy’ in paper format when it was first published and it makes for a great, down to earth read about yoga.  The author describes her journey of self acceptance and ultimately happiness.  If you’re not a sit down and read a book type then this is a great listen.  Now available – if you go the amazon audible route you can sign up for a month for free!

3 – MusicDeva Premal & Miten Tour 

I love Deva Premal & Miten’s music.  Most of my class playlists have one or two of their beautiful tracks.  I encourage you to do some research if you haven’t heard their music yet.  Good news for those of us in the US or Canada as Deva Premal & Miten will be on tour in May 2019.  Take a look at their tour schedule for dates and venues.

4 – PodcastJ Brown speaks to Annie Carpenter

If you haven’t listened to any of J Brown’s Yoga Talks yet then I can recommend a listen in.  He talks to some very interesting yoga people and in this particular podcast he speaks to Annie Carpenter of Smartflow Yoga.   Their discussion about 200hour teacher trainings is particularly interesting for anyone considering taking a training or for graduates of 200hour trainings and teacher trainers.

Goodie 5 – ProductYoga Mat Sale 

How about a little treat for your new year’s practice?  Manduka has a sale on a number of their yoga mats. As a Yogi who loves a bargain but who doesn’t love spending hard earned teaching earnings on expensive yoga products, there are some great deals here!

Five Ways for Yoga Teachers to Keep Learning

ongoing yoga study for yoga teachers
5 ways to continue yoga study

Yoga teachers are often expected to know the answers. But part of being the teacher is maintaining humility and knowing that you are also the student who doesn’t have all the answers.  It is important for yoga teachers to keep learning.

As yogis we are always learning. Whether we’re tentatively stepping on to a yoga mat for the first time or practicing with five decades of varied and constant practice under our yoga belts, we are always learning. 

As yogis we are always learning

I began teaching in the early 2000’s having been a student for more than a decade.  During that time yoga had been growing year on year and attracting new yogis in droves.  I studied and attended Anusara teacher trainings and began teaching regular vinyasa flow classes at a couple of great studios.  But then, something shifted.  Not the yoga or the students or the studio but me – the so called ‘teacher’.  

As my life had evolved I found myself at a point where I had stopped studying and my personal practice had slowed. My teaching was relying on well used sequences and themes and student numbers became more and more unpredictable.

the practice that I loved had stalled simply because I had stopped being a student.

When I recognized this the penny dropped!  My ability to continue teaching the practice that I loved had stalled simply because I had stopped being a student. Yoga is an ongoing practice which is why it is so important that yoga teachers keep learning.

I currently practice with a wonderful Iyengar teacher who, after class, will always say, “I hope you’ve learned something” and invariably I have.  Whether it be more understanding of the sit bones lifting or an aspect of yoga philosophy, I can always agree that I have learnt something.  And this is one of the keys to being a great yoga teacher – ongoing study.  As only by having an open mind and a student’s approach to teaching can you fulfill the role of teacher. 

5 Great Ways to Keep Learning

Experience learning once more.  

Attend classes or join meditation groups with other teachers.  Enjoy the benefits, once more, of practicing and studying in a situation where you are not responsible for leading the class.  Be open minded to all of the possibilities and take from the teacher and experience what speaks to you.

Be the student

Start at the beginning and get back to basics. Can you afford to pause on teaching or reduce your schedule to complete or repeat a teacher training from your own school or from another school of yoga?  Perhaps you could expand you training into another area of yoga that interests you such as restorative or prenatal.  Or maybe focusing on meditation or yoga therapy could provide the inspiration you crave. 

Start at the beginning and get back to basics

If time and finances are in short supply which, of course, for most of us they are, explore workshops and shorter, intensive trainings, either in a studio setting or online, to help with your learning and fire up your enthusiasm.

Be a Reader.  

Take time to read, and I mean really read, those textbooks that you’ve invested in over the years.  Go back to some of the yoga classics for asana and philosophy or explore the sutras or meditation in more detail. Take a couple of hours to actually read those yoga magazines piled on the coffee table. We’ve all subscribed to them over time but do we really get round to ever reading them?

If you’re not a paper person take time to listen to podcasts, watch videos and read posts on the many well respected yoga blogs and websites available. 

Self nurture

Introduce creativity into your life. Take a look at other practices such as mindfulness, ayurveda or massage therapy.  Take inspiration from other complimentary activities and see how these new experiences influence your approach to yoga and teaching. Embrace new creative experiences and feel the benefit of learning from new activities.  

Take inspiration from other complimentary activities

Explore other creative pursuits in whatever form they might appeal whether it be journaling, jewelry making, baking or knitting.  Getting the creative juices flowing helps to encourage new ideas and learning.

Self study  (svadhyaya)

Take a moment, from time to time, to study yourself….honestly!  Answer simple questions with honest answers to decide whether you are still working in harmony with your expectations and hopes of a yoga career.  Does teaching still bring you the fulfillment you’d hoped for?  Ask yourself the question ‘are you following the right path or is it time for change?

Wherever your study takes you the most important thing is to continue your yoga practice with a sense of wonder and a beginners mind.  You’ll never know what you might discover. 

Please know that I am an affiliate and may make a small commission, at not extra cost to you, on any purchases you may make via this blog post 🙂

Yoga Teacher Timesheet

Yoga teacher - yoga teaching timesheet
Photo by Ayo Ogunseinde on Unsplash

A yoga teacher’s teaching schedule can be a hectic one, particularly if you teach at several locations. Logging hours & earnings and maintaining a timely invoicing system is critical for your teaching and business success.

Keep track of your time & money

I have taught in both part time and full time capacities and found that even with a couple of weekly classes it has been critical to keep up with my timekeeping and invoicing. I created this yoga teacher timesheet template to efficiently keep track of those critical teaching hours and earnings.

Using this dedicated timesheet is simple and manageable. It is an easy way to keep track of your monthly hours and earnings. Below is a detailed example of how to use the timesheet (please note, the locations, dates & numbers used here are for demonstration purposes only!)

Use a dedicated timesheet

Date & Notes: At the head of the timesheet is clear place to note down the date for quick filing and a space for noting down those scribbled reminders.

Yoga teacher timesheet completed example
Using your yoga teaching timesheet to track your hours and money

Location Key: Create your own personal location key for easy reference to the many locations and venues you teach at during the course of a month.

Location key for yoga class venues
Create your own unique key for your various yoga teaching locations

Log your teaching hours & student numbers

Hours teaching: Accurately track the hours you are actually spending teaching in class. Class durations vary at different locations and understanding how your time is being used helps give a clearer idea of your hourly rate.

Class style & type: Note the class styles you are teaching and whether they are regular classes or substituted.

Student numbers: Keep a detailed log of student head count for those yoga locations where payment is based on student attendance. This also gives you insight to understand how your regular classes are growing.

Log all of your hours taught, whether regular or substitute, and keep up to date on your student numbers
Keep track of yoga teaching hours and student numbers

Invoicing & cashflow: Summarise earnings per month for each location and create an easy to refer to record of monthly invoices and values. Similarly, you can use the timesheet to keep up to date with payments as they are received and your overall cashflow.

Track your teaching invoices and payments
Yoga teaching invoicing and payment

Monthly summaries: Completing your monthly timesheet summary will create a useful log of your teaching hours and earnings. Simplify your end of year taxes by totaling up your teaching earnings every month.

Keep track of your yoga teaching hours and monthly earnings
Keep a log of those all important yoga teaching hours and monthly income

This yoga teacher timesheet is available in two versions at my etsy store, yogaskinnystudio. One is specifically designed for part time yoga teachers teaching a couple of times a week. Another longer version is for full time yoga teachers with a bigger teaching schedule.

Both part time and full time timesheets are available in three styles and colors – pink, blue & yellow.

Stay organized and up to date with your teaching and invoicing

Keeping your monthly information in a central location on a timesheet is a practical way to ensure you stay organized & up to date with your teaching and invoicing.

Once you are in the habit you will free up valuable time and energy then who knows how much more yoga you could fit in to your schedule?