Am I experienced enough to teach yoga?
A question that every prospective yoga instructor asks themselves before joining a yoga teacher training course is: Am I experienced enough to teach yoga? It’s the most common query course leaders receive from those interested in joining their teaching programs.
People are always concerned about whether they have enough experience to make the leap from student to teacher. They worry, too, that their yoga isn’t at an advanced level. ‘If I can’t do all the poses, then I won’t have any credibility at the front of the class.’
In this article we’re going to address those fears by emphasising two key factors:
- Experience is important, but it’s not everything
- Teaching yoga is a skill in itself
Experience is important, but it’s not everything
In our article: ‘Am I ready to become a yoga teacher’ we stated that passion is always more important than skill. That is absolutely true and should be the main driver behind your decision to join a yoga teacher training program.
When people talk about yoga skills, however, they are often referring to an ability to master the different poses. While a yoga teacher training course will improve your asana ability, it’s not the ultimate objective of the program. Asana is only one of the 8 limbs of yoga after all.
A yoga teacher training course isn’t an extended yoga class. You aren’t there to learn how to do yoga, but rather to understand why yoga works for the mind and the body. As well as how to teach yoga to other people.
That’s why it’s important to have some experience of the asana beforehand. A solid understanding of basic asana will suffice. Alongside an eagerness to learn about the aspects of yoga you don’t know.
- We recommend that you have enjoyed at least 2 years of consistent yoga practice. As well as a home practice, you will have regularly attended a yoga class in a studio and/or taught by a specific teacher during that period.
- Yoga will be an integral part of your life, but you won’t necessarily be the most accomplished practitioner. You may have (though not a requirement) attempted some of the more advanced asanas, but by no means will you have mastered every pose.
It’s worth remembering that most yoga teacher training courses have a diverse group of attendees, representing different levels of experience and skill. Course leaders will acknowledge this and adapt their methods appropriately.
Regardless of how long you have practised yoga, everyone is equal at the start of a yoga teacher training course. You’re all there to learn, after all. And there’s more to teaching yoga that being able to stand on your head.
Teaching yoga is a skill in itself
It’s true in every context – the best coaches are rarely the best players. That’s because the role of the coach, or instructor, or teacher isn’t about being the best at something, but rather it’s to inspire others to reach their potential.
We mentioned the word credibility before. Yes, a yoga teacher must have a deep understanding of the theory and practice of yoga. But by no means should they be the best yogi in the room. And even if they were, relying on their prowess would soon make them unpopular with the class.
Teaching yoga is a skill in itself. Students will depend on your knowledge and advice, as much anything else. You must learn to:
- use what you know to challenge people at different levels.
- become aware of the diverse needs of the class.
- develop bespoke methods to impart knowledge in a personal way.
It’s about supporting, rather than instructing. Students only need an example to inform their efforts. An illustration they can take away from class and implement into their personal practice. A goal that they can accomplish over time with their teacher’s encouragement.
When it comes to teaching a yoga pose or a breathing technique you cannot do, acknowledging your limits will help students relate to you more – commanding the respect of others sometimes means showing them your imperfections.
A yoga teacher training course is an opportunity for you to develop your practice while learning these fundamentals of teaching yoga. Becoming a yoga teacher, however, doesn’t have to be the end result. That’s something for you to decide, once you’ve completed the program,
Some may not have wanted to do that anyway and will happily qualify with a greater insight of, and appreciation for, yoga. While others will complete the course and realise becoming a yoga teacher is their true calling in life.
Are you ready to discover your innate teaching abilities through yoga?
Drop us an email or use the contact form and we’ll arrange a time to discuss whether this is the right path for you.