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A Yoga Teacher’s Reflection: 3 Lessons to Consider

by Elaine Clara Mah

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Over the course of a year as a yoga teacher, I have stumbled and tripped in my classes. As a teacher, I have had my highs, but also equally many lows. In this reflection, I share with the BookYogaTeacherTraining.com’s yoga community three of the most important lessons that I’ve learned. I hope you will find it useful as well!

Keep It Simple


When working towards my yoga teacher certification, I concentrated on acquiring the most information. I was obsessed with alignment, nitpicking every single asana and studying it to death. In my early days as a teacher, I regurgitated my wealth of information to my students, only to see them getting more confused by the minute. It was only until much later that I realized that they found difficult to understand my complicated cues.

Understand your students in your class and take the time to learn what level they are at in yoga. Tailor your cues to your audience and make sure that they are simple and easy to follow. Instead of saying, “lengthen the line between your lower sternum and your navel”, perhaps you might say “open your chest”. As your students gradually begin to create awareness of their body and become more familiar with the way you teach, you can use more specific cues to help them better align.


Learn to Say “No”


I once had a student who, due to medical conditions, had been advised against practicing inversions. But she was adamant. As a young teacher, I was intimidated by her headstrong tendencies and allowed her to practice what she wanted. This turned out to be a mistake, as she experienced dizziness and nausea immediately after.

Remember the role that you have to play when you stand in front of the class. As a teacher, it is your job to instruct. It is also your job to be aware of your students’ limitations and capabilities. Help them reach their potential but also learn to say no when you know that they are not ready for an asana. Be strict in your teaching, but empathetic in your approach. Ultimately, learn to say no when you need to.


Keep Your Feet on the Mat


As I spent more time teaching, I found that I had increasingly less time for my own practice. I didn’t realize how much it affected me until I found myself out of breath while teaching a power yoga class. My practice had deteriorated significantly, and with that, my stamina also decreased. Aside from asana, my mind was also affected. My previously calm mind began to become troubled and stressed.

After that incident, I made it a point to practice more than I teach. I kept to a regular morning practice daily. Stepping on the mat regularly helped my practice as well as the way I taught. I was calmer and kinder in my words. It also made me more humble in my ways. By stepping on the mat daily, I am constantly reminded that I am always a student first and then a teacher.


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