Letter to a New Yoga Teacher

Ten things I learnt the hard way. Ten things I wish someone had told me years ago. (Perhaps they did and I didn’t listen). Ten things I constantly remind myself of. Ten things that if I don’t do exhaust and deplete me. Ten things I can never get tired of hearing ... don't give up yet ... keep reading on ...

1. Teaching yoga is not a popularity contest. Don’t define success by how many people came to your class today or how many likes you have on Facebook. Let your connection with people be deep and real - whether it be to 2 people or 200 people.

2. Stop trying to teach the perfect class. What is that anyway? Stop comparing yourself to other teachers. Just be you, getting people from A to B. Share your yoga journey, your learnings and your mistakes. Speak to the people in the room. Be real and present. People want you to be free, comfortable and relaxed - so they can be too. Maybe they will like your sequence, maybe they won’t. It’s ok either way.

3. Don’t make it about the money. Trust. Let classes organically build and maybe even, keep your day job. Work in a coffee shop (or whatever) till you have built a loyal student base. Yes, maybe you earn a living teaching yoga if you ‘work hard and be nice to people’ (thanks my friend Nat Mukusheva, I take that one on!) but IT TAKES TIME AND TENACITY. Be consistent and reliable. It’s not easy. Expect to work hard and be humbled, seriously humbled, when you teach yoga. It will floor and befuddle you.

4. Don’t take yourself too seriously. You are you, sharing what you love, with people who want to learn a bit more about what you do. Do other things, keep your hobbies and friends. Keep your life, passions and previous relationships alive. Don’t divorce yourself from having fun, your wild self, you don’t need to be some sort of ‘higher being’, you are a perfectly imperfect human being. Just like the rest of us.

5. Make friends with other yoga teachers. Meet them for tea regularly. These are your greatest allies. Make friends with yoga teachers totally different from you! From different lineages and trainings. If you feel threatened or jealous of someone, reach out to them and connect, they may become your greatest friend. Flip your competitiveness on its head. 

6. Build a strong support structure. Get a mentor, a senior teacher, a therapist and a body-worker as soon as possible. Get all of them if you can. Trust me, trust me, you will thank yourself forever for this.

7. Eat properly. Don’t teach hungry (or ‘hangry’). People prefer grounded yoga teachers rather than shaky starving ones. I know, teaching over meal times is tricky, but make sure you make it happen. 

8. Take time to listen and dial into your heart and gut. As you build your career path don’t just follow the crowd or expectations. Yogis are rebels right? We don’t need to start conforming to expectations now! When committing to something, does your intuition or your ego guide you there? Does it feel ‘right’ in your belly?

9. Constantly refine what, where and why you teach. Are you still doing what you truly wish to do? Give space to plan. Perhaps build a ritual around planning and admin days - make them sacred and special. Go for long walks in nature (without your phone) to get perspective (I call them my mini vision quests). Make an actual real-life calendar, look at it often and make it work for you. Don’t overload yourself trying to impress or please. Don’t take on too much and then find yourself on a teaching treadmill. Dream into the future.

10 . Practice, Practice, Practice. Go to classes you love (and hate), self practice regularly, meditate daily. This is what it all boils down to. This is where you will teach from. Make sure you give yourself the time and space… NO MATTER WHAT, no matter how, get on your mat.

I hope this is useful to some. And really, this is the tip of an iceberg, and if this resonates with you and you want any to be given direction of where to find some support and inspiration - please get in touch and I will be happy to send you a list of some of my most invaluable resources. 

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With love, 

Bridget x

ps. A big shout out and thank you to my teachers, friends and mentors I have met on this path - those who have supported me, those who have challenged and confronted me. Without you I would be seriously stuck.