Yoga Teachers: Just Be Yourself

It’s 10 am, and the air is so thick with humidity I could swim through it. I can still hear the low slow symphony of clicks and ribbits outside even though the sun is already high and white hot. This is where my practice starts.

Unroll mat. Block under shoulders, chest wide open. Feet together, knees apart. Deep, slow breaths.

The rest of my practice is long, slow, and full of stretchy down dogs, hip openers, backbends, and my eyes are closed the whole time. It’s at about this point where my personal and public practice begin to diverge, at least superficially.

When you’re a yoga teacher, there’s definitely an element of always having to be “on,” and if you are one, I know you know what I mean. You must be an expert, an authority, but approachable. You have to be equal parts entertainer and educator. And let’s not forget - you have to be good. Don’t slack in your postures. Give them the best you’ve got. Move gracefully. Don’t hold your breath. Be aware of what everyone else is doing; make sure they’re being safe but still feeling challenged.

On the surface, the two practices look quite different. The balance only strikes when you can seamlessly weave your personal practice with your public one. Quite simply, the secret to balancing your two “lives” is to be aware of what feels good for YOU. Like, you personally. What do YOUR hips need? Do you like inversions? Arm balances? Warriors? Or do you prefer the restorative variety? The reality is that your students ultimately come to class for YOU, your “brand” and what you exclusively offer. If someone could have shared one piece of advice with me when I started teaching, it would be to stop thinking about how to be any certain thing when I teach. Myself is all I have, and it’s my most valuable commodity. I’d tell you the same thing. You got it, so flaunt it!

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