1. Don’t worry, get excited

I know. You’re full of nerves right? I had dinner with four new teachers last week, about a week out from graduating their training. They largely had the same fear. What do we do FIRST?! Well here’s the good news, it’s never going to be as hard it is in the first few weeks and months of your career, so let go of the fear factor and remember what brought you here in the first place.

2. Write your bio

My what? I hear you say! It’s a peculiarity of the health/wellness industry I think that your ‘story’ is as meaningful as your experience, if not more. And this is especially true for yoga teachers, and doubly important if you’re new. It’s a tricky piece to get right, as it needs to be heartfelt without being cliched or cringeworthy. Try this for starters: write down five words that resonate with you when it comes to your yoga. Then build two of three key sentences around these anchor words. Bingo, you’re on your way…

3. Then write your CV

This might seem premature, but once you’ve wrestled with your bio you may as well go all the way. It seems crazy to suggest you can write a whole yoga CV, especially when you have no experience, but you actually have a whole lot more to say than you realise! Think about your entire relationship with yoga. Your first workshops, the componet parts of your training. We have a whole guide to your CV here but the most important thing is to get down and do it!

4. Tell your friends

Who loves you baby? (No seriously, who LOVES you!) If you have just started teaching and you’re wondering how you’re going to fill a class, or who might be fool enough to come and partake in your first ten classes (the scariest) then look no further. You might feel somewhat awkward making a big deal of your teaching to your nearest and dearest but trust me, they are your best first audience. Why not have an informal get together – 30 mins practice and then dinner?

5. Set up a Facebook page

Facebook is now as fundamental a part of our lives as breathing. It’s part of the furniture, here to stay whether we like it or not. And as it continues to grow, so does the ability to connect with our chosen audiences. You will no doubt have your own personal facebook page but seriously consider setting up a yoga specific teaching page. There are two main reasons for this: 1. It’s an essential marketing tool 2. Most teachers find they need some separation between their personal and professional social media

6. Be prepared to teach for free

I’ve seen lots of teachers waltz into the yoga world brandishing a newly-inked certificate expecting to command a kingly hourly rate from the get go. Now I am the most vocal supporter of being paid for your craft and expertise, but the reality is that in the beginning, you may have to waive any kind of payment. Think of it as good karma points and valuable experience.

“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.” -Unknown

7. Get on cover lists

All yoga teachers are human and life often gets in the way, so you can bet your bottom dollar that most studios will have a cover list in case they are a teacher down. It’s helpful if you’ve attended a few classes at that particular studio so you have an idea of their team and vibe, and think about asking to teach a trial class or at least a sequence as a ‘way in’. Sounds obvious, but build relationships with studios close to your home or work to maximise the chances of you being able to teach at short notice – flexibility is key!

8. Ask to assist

In a similar vein, don’t be scared of approaching your favourite teachers to ask if they might appreciate some teaching assistance. They will understand that everyone has to start somewhere and if they teach a particularly busy class will probably be glad of the extra pair of hands – as will their students. Plus, as with teaching, becoming great at assists takes practice so don’t be shy about offering your love to the world. We’re yogis, we like to touch! as one of my favourite teachers recently said.

9. Find your own voice

When you first start teaching, it’s helpful and necessary to emulate and draw inspiration from your own teachers. You sort of become a hotch potch of their best bits. While this is a fabulous start, try and spend some time working out what you want to say to the world with regards to your yoga. This can be a useful exercise to go through as you write your bio – what are your favourites quotes? What are your key words or magic phrases? What’s the one thing that distinguishes your teaching?

10. Publish, publish, publish

Sounds ever so grand doesn’t it? Well here’s the good news – in 2016 being ‘published’ is no longer the preserve of the distinguished author. Every facebook post, every instagram moment, we are all publishing something, most days! And you can harness the power of this to establish your professional voice as a yoga teacher. Irrespective of the medium, get into the habit of having something to say with regards to your practice and teaching on a regular basis. Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to social media either, if you have a big topic on your mind, write a long form whitepaper or approach one of the big yoga portals to be featured as a writer.

11. Practice what you teach

When I first started teaching it pretty much totally consumed me. I was teaching two classes most days so between writing sequences, preparing playlists, chosing themes, chatting to students before and after class…well, there wasn’t a huge amount of time for anything else. One thing I found incredibly helpful however was to make time before each class for my own practice, even if I only had time to go through a fraction of the class. It helped me feel more confident, and more authentic, to know that I would be asking my students to do exactly what I had just done, not just that week, but that day.

12. Have a vision

Why? I hear you ask. It’s a good question. Whether you teach a few classes a week or place yoga front and centre of your professonal existence, your students and clients will want to sense that your teaching is part of a bigger picture – along with bios / voice it’s worthwhile spending some time on this. We talk a lot about personal brand at Yoginomics HQ and it really is the key thing that will differentiate you from other teachers, PLUS enable you to connect and stay present with your purpose.

13. Think outside the box

Many new teachers experience a bit of brain freeze during the first few months after teacher training. They immediately reach out to the studio/gym environment as the easiest way of gaining experience and accumulating their first teaching hours. But try and get creative – where are your most obvious students? For me, it was my neighbours on the roof my apartment building, my colleagues in the kitchen at work during lunch break, and my best friend and his golf buddies. Those first crucial hours can be gained from unexpected sources!

“I have been a seeker and I still am, but I stopped asking the books and the stars. I started listening to the teaching of my Soul.” – Rumi

14. Use a business plan template

It doesn’t matter if you think you don’t want to set up a business, or that you don’t see yourself as a business person – there are plenty of resources out there to help you mould and shape your thinking when it comes to your yoga career. Frameworks, blueprints, and roadmaps: they are all useful tools that will help guide you in terms of your professional aims and objectives. We particularly like the Business Model Canvas – try it out, it’s a useful exercise to go through even if you feel it’s too early to be thinking about something so structured!

15. Network

The phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who’ is now beyond a cliche, and in fact has slightly grasping undertones. But there are amazing ways to get well networked within the yoga community without being salesy or over the top. Chat to your teachers (I’m sure you do already!) introduce yourself to studio owners, join facebook groups. It’s all a two way street, and they will be as pleased to know you and learn from you as you from them.

16. Run a charity event

It’s all about the feels people! Linking up with a charity – particularly one with a health/wellness focus is a great way to give back and become known as a teacher. Yoginomics supports a fabulous charity in London, OurMala (formerly the Hackney Yoga Project) which makes yoga accessible to refugee and asylum seeking women and we’ve run pop up classes in the park for the last two summers. Easy to organise and great for raising your profile.

17. Think personal brand

Another grand proclamation at first glance but I can’t stress enough how important this is – in fact I’ve spoken to numerous teachers recently who now say they wish they had thought about this from the get go. Along with your bio, voice, vision, these are the fundamental building blocks of your brand – which is essentially the feeling people walk away with after your class. It’s a huge topic, so we’ve put together the best bits of the blog to help you out!

18. Find a mentor

It can be easy after the supportive vibe of teacher training to feel like you’re in a bit of a vacuum. That close relationship you had with your peers and teacher suddenly evaporates, and it can be harder still if you trained intensively away from home. But don’t panic, help can be easily accessed, you just need to know how to ask for it. Perhaps you have a favourite teacher in your hometown you can reach out to, or, if you’re more nomadic then put a shout out to one of the many Facebook groups out there – just don’t be shy!

19. Get peer level support

Most teachers develop lifelong friendships as a result of their YTT and I am sure you are no different. But there are ways you can really make the most of these relationships (without forgetting to set time aside for hanging out OFF the mat too!) and develop a structured support mechanism to help you over the bumps during your first few months teaching and beyond. Set up a facebook group, have regular meetups, sequencing jams and idea sharing sessions, and be proactive about involving other new teachers you come into contact with.

20. Become curious

There are as many reasons for training as a yoga teacher as there are colours of yoga mat, and we all know certified teachers who may chose never to sit at the front of a class. But if you’re not one of them and you’re serious about being a professional teacher, then it’s time to match your passion for yoga with a passion for business. The journey starts here: be inquisitive about the many and varied aspects of being a freelancer and get comfortable with everything from accounts and expenses to marketing tricks,

21. Get insured

If you take your first steps in your yoga career by teaching at a studio or gym, you will be required to have professional liability insurance and there are a number of providers you can choose from so you are protected in the event of an accident in your class. However it might be worth also looking into a health insurance policy. As yoga teachers, our livelihood depends on the wellness of our physical bodies so should something happen it’s wise to make sure your income is covered. These are the hard facts friends, and all part of growing up as a teacher.

“Be a lamp to yourself. Be your own confidence. Hold on to the truth within yourself as to the only truth.” – Buddha

22. Be professionally presented

It continues to astonish me that people believe there is a different set of professional standards for yoga teachers relative to other industries. I’m not suggesting that image is everything, but we have a duty to represent ourselves and the beauty of what we teach as lovingly as possible – and this means be sparkly clean and tidy, and put some thought into what kind of experience you want to transmit to your students as their teacher and guide.

23. Don’t wait until you’re ready

I procrastinated and resisted teaching for a while once I had gained my first certification. I was nervous, underconfident, and thought I would NEVER be ready until the point at which I had no choice but to dive in as I was running a studio with an entire team of sick teachers. There are two things to bear in mind here. One is that you will never feel truly ready, so there is really nothing to lose. The second is that you won’t attain perfection the first time, or indeed every time – and that’s okay! Reassure yourself that every teacher goes through this, and (big cliche) there is no time like the present so get your skates on!

24. Keep focused

There will be times of self doubt and days where you wonder if it is all worth it. There will be times when you reach for other activities or look for distraction when things get tricky or uncomfortable. Just as we resist the impulse to fix our hair while in chair pose, try and sit with the discomfort and keep aligned with what you are trying to achieve. If it helps, write down three main things you are trying to achieve in as few words as possible and repeat them – this is your mantra and will keep you focused.

25. Look after yourself

This sounds a little obvious, but as teachers we give a lot of ourselves, we hold space for our students to relax, heal and transform and without question this has the potential to deplete our resources both energetically and emotionally. Make sure you give yourself space to breathe, to be alone and to regroup after periods of intense activity. Keep your own practice consistent, even if it’s just a few moments every day. Eat well, sleep well and drink a hundred times more water than you think you need.

26. Accept you will have bad days

It’s a widely held belief that us yoga professional float through life on a cloud, with access to an unlimited reservoir of positivity and good vibes. Not so my friends, as you well know. We are human beings bumping up against the vagaries of life as hard and often as anyone else. If you find yourself having a tricky time of it try not to beat yourself up. Reach out to those close to you, have an early night, pour a glass of wine and start again the next day. This too shall pass.

27. Keep your eye on the prize

I think no matter how challenging life on and off the mat can be, none of us would be in any other field of work. Becoming a yoga teacher necessitates a huge amount of passion and commitment and represents so much more than simply doing a job. Yoga is who we ARE not just what we DO. As a favourite teacher of mine recently said “As yogis and teachers, we already have our fair share of the joy this beautiful world has to offer. Now, your mission is to go out and share it.”

“Practice and all is coming.” – Patthabi Jois

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