I recently moved to Santa Barbara, CA and have started teaching at some studios in the area. YAY! It feels great to be back in the studio teaching again… but I have to laugh because I feel like I’m starting over from scratch. Teaching in a new space, especially after a break from teaching tends to throw me off… even though I have been teaching for what feels like a bazillion years. So I thought I would share my go-to practices for recentering. There are a handful of tips for new yoga teachers I would love to share, but today I will focus on tackling just this one issue. Here are my favorite ways to teach a great class after I’ve lost my focus or center.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #1: What to do when you’re anxious before teaching your yoga class.
As a new yoga teacher, you could be anxious for a ton of different reasons. Maybe it’s your first class in a new space, maybe it’s your demo class or the studio owner is taking your class or a million other reasons… and that’s okay. We all get anxious sometimes. New yoga teacher tip #1 for centering when you’re anxious: DON’T start your yoga class with everyone sitting or standing there looking at you. Invite them into child’s pose or down into supta baddha konasana or even just to close their eyes. With their eyes off of you, start guiding them through some three-part belly breath (deerga swasaam) or alternate nostril breathing (nadi shodhana). And do it yourself. A few minutes of either of these pranayama exercises will get you and your students grounded and centered for class.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #2: What to do when your music stops working randomly.
Okay, this honestly happened to me this morning. On a system that I don’t know how to troubleshoot (yet). Sigh. New yoga teacher tip #2: have your students hold a pose like downward facing dog, child’s pose, or forward fold while you troubleshoot your music. If possible, keep teaching the breath and they won’t even notice, or they’ll at least think it was part of the plan.
- Check your auxiliary cord and make sure the connection is secure.
- Check the settings on your sound system.
- Check your bluetooth (sometimes if another teacher has their phone in the same room and it also connects to the same sound system then it can override your connection… *sometimes*)
- If none of the above work… restart your phone. And try again.
- If that doesn’t work, roll with no music.
This morning my Spotify account was being buggy. The songs would play for ten seconds and quit. Not so cool, but restarting my phone did the trick.
Keep teaching the breath. If you need to ground, join your class for a downward facing dog or a partial sun salutation.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #3: What to do when you forget the sequence on one side.
Oops! You’ve linked together too many poses and can’t remember the other side!!! Eek! Okay, but seriously don’t freak out about this one. Once again, have them hold a pose for a few breaths while you try to remember… and if you can’t? New yoga teacher tip #3: OWN IT! You’re human, it happens. Ask your students! Laugh it off! Thank them! What would you do without them? Also, your students are your best teachers, often times they will go into the next pose without you even teaching it… a blessing in disguise!
That being said, if this happens a lot… you need to create shorter sequences or spend more time prepping for your classes. If it happens once in a blue moon, it will endear you to your students. If it happens every other class, it will drive them nuts.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #4: What to do when you fall out of a demo.
You might not be teaching advanced asana when you’re a brand new teacher, but also you might be and if you are, there is a good chance that one of these days you’ll fall out of an asana… perhaps you’ll fall on your bum or perhaps you’ll fall on your face. Real world advice: this is a great teaching moment. It teaches your students that it’s okay to fall. It’s okay to not be perfect. And you better get up and try again. Laugh it off. Keep it light. Smile. Have fun. And keep going.
I was teaching a private yoga teacher training for a student and we were taking a class together and practicing side-by-side and we were transitioning from eka pada koundinyasana up to chin stand and I hadn’t done it in a while and I used WAY too much force to lift up and I ended up skidding across the floor on my chin. It hurt, but I was fine and we had a good laugh. And my student now uses it as a teaching story in his own community.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #5: What to do when someone walks out of your yoga class.
Whatever you do, don’t take it personally when someone walks out of your class. It will happen eventually. Yes, it throws you off. Yes, it makes you doubt yourself. Yes, it makes you want to run after them and make sure everything is okay. Consider that a good thing because it shows that you care. You want people to enjoy your class. I get that. New yoga teacher tip #5: people leave classes for all kinds of reasons… smells, temperature, they don’t feel well, the level of the class, the music… honestly it is rarely because of something you’ve done. Personally, I like to let the yoga studio owner know… and that’s just so they can follow up with them if they want to. Keep going. When you’re distracted by your student leaving you might want to make your next sequence simpler, likely you will not be present as you were before they walked out. Get yourself grounded again… teach the breath, get everyone into a grounding pose, join your class for a pose or two. Give a simple *feel good* assist and move on.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #6: What to do when someone does their own flow.
Okay, I’m not going to lie, this is a HUGE pet peeve of mine. It is so distracting! Not only is it distracting, but if you’re not careful you can get sucked into questioning your teaching ability… is my sequencing good enough? Is my pacing okay? Etc. Etc. Etc. New yoga teacher tip #6: Don’t go down the rabbit hole! If they’re doing mostly the same sequence and modifying to make it more challenging or more accessible let them be (this doesn’t bother me at all). If they’re doing warrior 2 to reverse warrior and the rest of the class is doing a crescent lunge sequence it’s going to be obvious and distracting. If you’re up for it, you can bring the class down into child’s pose/down dog and quietly check in with the student… they could have an injury or something else going on. If you’re not confident enough to address the issue right away, check in after class. If you do check in with them, make sure it is from a place of care not from a place of ego, doubt, anger, frustration, etc. And be prepared for any kind of answer.
Remember that it is their practice and it might be the only chance they have all week to get on their mat. Maybe ask them to set their yoga mat up toward the back of the room the next time they come in, simply so they aren’t distracting the other students. For me personally, I partially ignore these people. I will still have an eye on them, but my main priority is going to be keeping the students that are participating safe and engaged.
New Yoga Teacher Tip #7: What to do when you’re hungry/hangry.
Oh boy, this definitely happens. You accidentally skip a meal and now you’re irritable, light-headed, spacey. New yoga teacher tip #7. Keep a snack in your bag… something simple like a bar or a handful of almonds and eat it before class starts. If you don’t have a snack available, make some tea. If you don’t have tea available, drink lots of water. Also, do yourself a favor and keep your sequencing simple. Teach your go-to sequence. Maybe don’t demo your forward folds… you might get light headed when you stand up to tadasana.
And Finally My Last Tip: What to do when you’re exhausted.
Keep it simple. Simple sequence. Simple theme (or just use the breath as your theme). Personally, when I’m tired and I have to teach I get inverted! A couple of handstands at the wall will usually give me the little boost I need. And if I don’t have time for a short inversion practice I will center class using pran mudra… it’s a mudra for vitality and reducing fatigue. Another favorite is shaking… it sounds weird, but it really helps. I will shake my right hand/arm above my head for a count of seven, followed by my left hand followed by my right leg followed by my left leg. Then I repeat the sequence from six and then five… all the way down to one! You can even do this with your class if the energy is low.
When things don’t go as planned, go back to the basics. Keep it simple. Recite a grounding mantra or hold a mudra for a few moments. Snag a copy of The Little Book of Mudra Meditations to learn more about mudras. Keep a couple of your favorite essential oils in your bag so they’re there when you need them. Try to come up with a pre-class ritual that helps you ground and center. Follow these tips and you will be able to handle anything that comes your way with grace and ease!
Do you have a favorite tip for new yoga teachers that you would like to share? Comment below!