10 things I wish I knew when I was a new RYT

I heard from a social media consulting company that the best way to get people to read your social media writing is to put it in list form. Fortunately, I LOVE LISTS. 

So, after some kind encouragement from one of my recent RYT 200 graduates, I am compelled to share this list that I wrote for those graduates. 

1. You don't have to know it all to have something important to share- your perspective is unique and valuable!

Your current knowledge is perfect as is, share what you know! Someone will connect with it in a way that they could not have had it come from someone else.

2. Give of yourself, but also protect your time and personal needs.

As yoga teachers, we are compelled to care for our students and this is a good thing! We want to stay an hour after class and talk about your kids or your downward facing dog, and so sometimes, we will!

But it’s important to protect your time and make sure that your personal emotional and physical needs are being met, too. This will help create the most successful and fulfilling types of student/teacher relationships.

3. Be Genuine.

Your students can tell, even if only subconsciously, whether or not you’re dealing with them in a genuine way. Sometimes this will mean having an awkward or difficult conversation, but being honest and precise with your words is a skill that will serve you throughout your teaching career. 

4. Laugh at yourself-you're new at this!

You WILL make mistakes. You will say something wrong, or offensive or unclearly, sometimes multiple times in one session! This is part of the learning process- don’t let it scare you away! Instead, laugh at yourself and learn something about how to do better going forward.

5. Don't compare yourself to other teachers, publicly or privately. 

Yes, I know you want to be the next Kino MacGregor. Me too! But we’re each in different places in our journey of practicing and teaching yoga and by comparing yourself to your favorite local teacher or big name instagram celebrity, you’re missing the point. Try to take your own advice and be OK with who you are as a teacher right now! Learn from these experienced teachers, yes, but don’t get caught up in whether or not you can cue lotus as smoothly as so and so. 

If you make comparisons in public you will appear under confident, jealous and petty. If you make comparisons privately, in your head or to your partner, you will feel under confident, jealous and petty. 

6. Be a YOGA advocate. No one cares which kind of yoga you do, just be a yoga ambassador in general!

Full disclosure, I stole this one from Lizzy Tomber, over at the Yogi MBA. She reminded my teacher’s in training a few years back that most people don’t know the difference between vinyasa and kundalini yoga. It is your job as a teacher to encourage people to try yoga of any kind and find the style that works best for them! It is not your job to tell people why the style you teach is the best one and everyone needs to do it. I know this is hard, you like certain styles of yoga better than others yourself and you just want everyone to know how awesome blank style is and that's OK! Just be careful not become dogmatic and honor students in their journey of finding the style that's right for them. It will benefit you as a teacher and a person to be open and supportive to ALL yoga. 

7. Focus on creating a yoga experience instead of just leading a class. You are now a community facilitator! 

As a yoga teacher, it is part of your job to make students feel comfortable and welcome at your class! I personally have found that the relationships and rapport I have built with my students is the most rewarding part of being a yoga teacher.  This is also one of the best tips I can give you regarding student retention! Sure, not everyone will want to grab a kombucha after class with the gang, but don’t you want everyone to feel as though they could if they wanted to?

8. Separate person you from teacher you.

This one is important, don’t come to put all your self esteem eggs in the “I am a yoga teacher” basket. Yes, this is an awesome job and yes, it is part of your identity now, but it’s important that your sense of self worth is not linked only to what kind of yoga teacher you are. There are so many factors that go in to why someone likes or dislikes a given class. Just a few of which are:  what time it’s offered, who the teacher is, what style of yoga it is, what kind of space is it offered in, whether or not a student likes the music that is played, what kind of marketing efforts have gone into a class, etc. Some of this you have control over, some of it you don’t! And you can’t be everything to everyone.

Assuming you’re teaching a safe and well thought out class, focus on honing your skills and trust that students that connect with you will self select your classes. With some consistency and practice, you’ll find your ideal students. :)

9. Be Flexible!

Pun intended. Be willing to throw your class plan out the window! You never know what is going to walk in the door and although you should try to stick to the class plan according to how it has been advertised online, it’s OK to make changes in a way that will suit the group best. 

10. Keep practicing!

With time, you will find your most authentic and knowledgable yoga teacher self. Just keep practicing!