In the decade that I've led yoga teacher training programs, I've found that students who have the greatest potential often display a distinct psychological phenomenon: The Anticipation of Failure.
While most teacher training programs are doing the best they can to prepare their graduates, they're still thrown into a world of "survival of the fittest" upon completion of their training. They find the yoga world (much like other arenas in life) to be filled with a maelstrom competition for jobs.
As a result their love of self is severely tested. This can manifest itself through obsession over how many likes or comments your social media posts achieve, or worrying too much about your image. In an effort to please everyone, some new teachers play it safe by stifling their authentic personality and voice to conform with other, more experienced teachers.
Back when I was a new teacher, none of the social media measurements had existed to pressure competition and comparison with other teachers. The second-guessing, worry and comparison of today only adds stress to the very people trying to share this healing art. Anticipating that your next Yelp review will be a dud, or that your performance will be a disappointment is so disheartening. New teachers don't deserve this pressure.
Here are eight psychological and emotional pitfalls that stand in the way of genuine success in teaching yoga and how to overcome them:
Stop torturing yourself by comparing yourself to other teachers status updates and fancy asana photos. Put an end to trolling Facebook and Instagram for reasons to be offended. Look to these outlets for inspiration instead.
Stop observing outside of yourself more than what's inside of yourself. You can't predict what will happen to you based on how another teacher is teaching, or how many students that person is attracting.
Unless you're giving praise or recognition, don't talk about other teachers when they are not present.
4. Scarcity thinking
Don't assume the worst, or think that another teacher's success takes away from your potential achievement. Another teacher had 75 people in class? Great! There are plenty of students out there. Focus on the large portion of the population who still haven't even tried yoga yet.
5. Fear of being your true self
Stop editing yourself down to nothingness. What works for someone else is their thing. Do your thing, whatever that is.
6. Perfection obsession
Tell the truth. You don't have to uphold a façade of perfection. Don't believe the hype about yourself. And remember that you are allowed to have bad days, too. Walking into class to teach a happy yoga class when you feel lousy sends the wrong message. This inauthenticity tells your students that perfect is the only option. It's not. Be real.
7. Fear of making mistakes
Let them see you sweat. Literally. Talk about how long it took you to achieve certain poses, whether they're advanced or not. Talk about the trial, effort and failure that came before the triumph. Remove some of the mystery.
We've all seen them: Power Yoga Teacher, Vinyasa Teacher, Iyengar teacher, Hot Yoga Teacher, Bootylicious teacher, Hard Teacher, Sexy Teacher, etc. Drop them all. You are way more than any one label. Don't get caught fitting yourself into a title just to make others feel more comfortable. Be yourself.
What all of these ideas have in common is that they feed into the always famished "Am I good enough?" machine that is your inner critic, always undermining your peace of mind. Listen to your heart. Move through the fear of failure, avoid these common pitfalls and simply do your best.