Congrats! You're a Yoga Teacher. Now What?
You just completed your 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) from such and such schooling and now you are a free bird, ready to spread your yoga-fied wings and fly! But fly where? And how? I feel like one of the lucky ones and coincidentally found my teacher who happens to be a well-known and influential leader in the world of modern yoga and teaching. An opportunity arose and I was willing and ready to take it. So I dived in, head first and fully emerged myself into all things yoga. At the time, I wasn't aware of what this yoga teaching path really meant or had in store for me. But who is, right?
I am going to go out on a limb here and say that I imagine most who begin on the path of YTT aren't really sure what or how their journey will uncoil. We all go in with an idea - a grand image of what we will look like or how we will teach, act or even behave once we begin our careers. Maybe we even start to eat differently or create social networks that ring true to our calling. This isn't just in the yoga world though. In anything we do, we change ourselves because we want to be better. We want to strive for growth and evolution. No one wakes up and says, "I am going to make this the worst day of my life".
You probably enrolled in that YTT in the first place to evolve. Maybe you didn't even plan to be a teacher; you just had a burning desire to enrich your personal relationship with yourself. And this my friends, is precisely what YTT is all about. This is what taking yoga workshops is about, attending weekly yoga classes and participating in a yoga studio as a community member is all about. It is to deepen your own Self-love, Self-acceptance and most importantly Self-Realization. Because as we each do so, we became our own inner teacher and we naturally and effortlessly guide one another and make this world a better place.
But let's be realistic here, we also really like to move our bodies, breathe and maybe get a little or a-lot-a sweaty. We are intrigued with how the body functions anatomically and energetically; some more than others. We enjoy leading people through artistically crafted sequences and maybe sharing with them a piece of ourselves in our music selections. We are connecting with others - sharing and shifting energy individually and as a group.
"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience."
As a teacher, you are the guide to this journey. If you didn't know this already, you have a big role to fill. It is your responsibility to understand the human body and how it somatically and energetically functions. This doesn't mean that you will have all the answers to all the interesting questions (and yes, some of them are) that you will be asked. You, as the teacher, need to know the yoga poses and offer modifications to all levels (because most of your classes are all levels regardless of what the schedule says). You hold an open and compassionate space for people to explore their physical and energetic bodies. The most intimate relationship we have in our lives is with our own bodies and our own minds. Now here you are, as a teacher, guiding 15-30 people through an expedition of such intimacy. When I put it that way, it seems scary, huh?
Teaching yoga is bigger than just arriving to the studio, reciting a poem that has a special meaning to you, putting on the playlist that took up an hour of your day creating, instructing a selection of linking poses and chanting here and there. Teaching yoga is a whole life experience - it is a consciousness to show up and be present - it is to LIVE YOGA. We are teaching people how to connect to their bodies, so we must know how the body works - its structure, its form, its anatomy; we must have some understanding of the brains link to the body, the nervous system, the energetic system; but most importantly, we must know this for ourselves and be willing to always be a student first!
So, when I was asked for the third time to lead a yoga teacher training, again I said no. It isn't that I don't believe in myself as a teacher to lead a training. Nor is it because I don't think I am capable of it. I say "no" because I keep seeing so many newer yoga teachers who just don't know where to start or how to find their voices. I have managed two yoga studios now; one in Vail, Colorado and currently I am the Director of Programming at Yoga Bound in Carlsbad, California. I receive inquiry from teachers desiring to teach weekly. They have the drive and are a light waiting to shine bright, but just aren't ready yet. It just breaks my heart to send them on their way without offering a service or education to see them grow.
My creative wheels started to spin and in 2012 I developed a two month Yoga Teaching Mentorship. I ran the program in Colorado and it was a success. This previous program was for teachers who have already completed their 200hr YTT. It was designed to help newer or veteran teachers revisit YTT education, anatomy, and philosophy. A well-rounded program to assist you to find your own voice, feel confident in intelligent hands on adjustments, safe sequencing for all levels, understanding how to work with beginners and elderly, an open space to practice teach, and education on self-promotion, social media marketing and yoga as a business. In 2014, I ran a similar program in California.
With the over saturation of 200hr trainings now, we have more yoga teachers than we know what to do with. And unfortunately, most of these trainings are being led by teachers who haven't been teaching that long. I am a firm believer that we are students first and foremost and if you truly want to be a great teacher, it takes time and a personal investment in your own growth.
There is a movement or saying that has been circulating the yoga community for the last few years. It says this,
"Yoga will ruin your life"
It is true. All the things you used to do before you became a yoga teacher will become less and less important to you. Things such as non-meaningful conversations, partying hard, eating unhealthy, being unkind on the road or in the marketplace. Once you have yoga in your life and once you take on the role as teacher, you are now setting a path for mindful evolution and you know what, it is not easy! Nope. Not at all. It takes the 3D's!
Dedication - Determinism - Discipline
I am promoting my upcoming program. This program is a bit different than my previous mentorships. It is a ME Living Yoga Immersion open to yoga teachers and dedicated yoga practitioners who seek to deepen their living yoga in their lives! There is so much light on this path and it brings a smile to my heart to see you grow, to see that spark in you come to life; for you to find your own wings, to let them sore and take flight!
"During Kristina's Yoga Teacher Immersion, we were able to try on new things, in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment. With a new found confidence, I could better express myself, thus benefiting my students…which in turn created growth in my classes. Sometimes having all of the tools that you need simply isn’t enough. With Kristina’s mentorship and gentle encouragement, I was able to find my voice as a Teacher; as well as develop my Yoga Teaching Style."
- Beth Esser, 200 RYT, Owner & Instructor - Vail, Colorado
This mentorship program is for local teachers and dedicated practitioners who desire to deepen their practice and teaching skills in an intimate and creative space.