How to find your voice as a yoga teacher

Originally written for Yovada

So you did your first 200 Yoga teacher training course. Now, what?

My first YTT experience was nothing but humbling. It taught me everything I didn’t know and just how much there was to learn; I had been introduced to just a drop of knowledge, in a vast ocean of brilliance. It made me feel small and I wondered if I would ever be capable of honouring the wisdom of yoga in my teaching.

You see I didn’t feel the knowledge was mine to give. That spark of light that illuminates and inspires so much was something I merely hoped to pass on. I was desperate to do it well. Sometimes I was so intimidated, I struggled to open my mouth to speak at all and any form of self-expression was stunted.

It took time to become the kind of teacher I wanted to be because, the truth is, it takes effort, exploration and experimentation. You need to need to mature into the role. It isn’t a process you can rush. Finding your voice can feel daunting, but it is the key to confidence. So here are few things you can do to cultivate and nurture your own personal brand of self-expression.

Learn, then let go

Learn and then let go. Trust in what you know and let the teachings flow through you. Ditch any ideas about who you’re supposed to be and don’t over plan your classes because it kills authenticity.

Practice and all is coming

Just like your own self-practice, teaching well comes with experience and repetition. The more you teach the better with you come. According to Malcolm Gladwell it take 10,000 hours to become an expert, so just keeping putting in the minutes and release expectation over the outcome. With effort comes evolution. Try to stick to the same formula for a while, as this will give you the chance to hone and polish your delivery but be sure to introduce something fresh from time to time as you grow.

Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine

Each of us can only ever teach from our own perspective and experience. Honour tradition by all means but don’t stick to it so rigidly that its to the detriment of your own personality or personal integrity.

Pay attention

Pay close attention to what resonates with you the most. Delve into those topics that tempt you.

Keep keen self-awareness when you teach. Take note when something feels good/bad for you and consider how it was received.

Keep a teaching journal, where you can record what you planned, what you taught, what went well and what you’d like to work on next it – it can be really insightful and help provide you with direction on how to improve.

Find your purpose

Voice and purpose are often bound together, finding one usually helps you develop the other. Contemplate your passions and those things that make your heart sing. Perhaps they will indicate something you should specialise in or how to model your offering.

Speak from the heart

Yoga is a journey of the heart. So don’t be afraid to open yours and let your words come from a loving, sincere space within you. No-one likes a scripted class. Being yourself is the best way of offering a wholesome experience.

Chant

Balance and clear your energetic communication centre, Vishuddha (the throat chakra), with mantra to help empower self-expression. If mantra’s not for you sing whatever you like, just to liberate your voice. Try journalling to release thoughts and practice Simhasana or Lions breath to free fear.

When it comes to teaching, don’t be afraid to begin, just jump in. In the words of Austin Kleon, author of Steal Like an Artist, you don’t need to know who you are to get started – the only way to find your voice is to use it.