I’ve had a few questions this week about preparing for teaching auditions. I’ve also had the opportunity to have a colleague take my class and give me some feedback.
In both situations, there’s a chance to get nervous and teach from an awkward and unnatural place. But with a little forethought, you can be prepared and at the same time, stay open to being present.
Here are some things to keep in mind at your next yoga teaching audition:
1. Stick to a basic sequence.
If you have the chance to do what you wish versus having to teach an assigned sequence, stick with something simple like Sun Salutation A and B.
This will give you freedom to relax instead of trying to remember what comes next. Auditions are not the best time to try to impress the practitioners with what you know about different poses.
2. Smile and greet the practitioners before beginning your audition.
In the flurry of setting up and transitioning to teach (especially if you’re in a group audition) take a moment to stand in front of the group, smile and thank them for their time. This will also serve to ground you into your body and will provide a logical transition point to the practice.
3. Move around.
If you tend to stand on a mat at the front of the room, move around. Start at the front of the room to get a sense of the space and to view the class from a global perspective but then begin to move around while teaching. This will help create a sense of community between yourself and the class, will allow you to be closer to people to provide assists and will give you a chance to see them from different angles.
4. Even if you put a mat down at the front of the room, hold back from practicing with the class.
Speak to what you are seeing in terms of adjustments that might be needed, move around and be available to assist. You might need to demonstrate a pose, but hold back from standing on the mat and practicing the entire sequence. This can sometimes set up a disconnect between you and the class and may distract the practitioners from connecting to their body.
5. Unless you are auditioning to teach a class that includes music, hold back on the tunes.
Music can be a wonderful addition to class, but in an audition it can be a distraction and might be a turnoff to your hiring contact (depending on your music selection). If you use music primarily when you teach, make sure the hiring contact knows beforehand that you’ll be using it.
6. Leave space for silence during the practice.
When we’re nervous, we tend to speak to fill in the silence. Leave the practitioners with spaces where you are not speaking. Give them time to hear and connect to their breath. You want the experience to be relaxing as well as strengthening and this can be hard if you’re talking the entire time.
7. Look professional and wear something that fits you comfortably.
An audition is not the time to try out your flashy new yoga pants or a top that doesn’t quite fit. You want to feel confident, look professional and not have to worry about a wardrobe malfunction.
8. Provide some basic assists to connect through touch as well as demonstrate your assisting skills.
Give a few standard assists in the fundamental poses, such as Downward Dog, Upward Dog, Child’s Pose and the Warrior poses. While deepening assists are part of assisting in general, stick to basic hands-on touch.
9. Have a few thoughts to share from the heart.
What makes each of us unique as a yoga teacher is our wisdom, life experiences and expression of the practice, both in sequence and thought. Have the courage to share a few thoughts from the heart. These might be things you think about before your audition or some thoughts you’ve shared in the past that are appropriate to bring up in classes on an ongoing basis.
10. Be yourself.
We're all inspired by our teachers and we may have worked hard to find our own way, while blending what we have absorbed. Work to be yourself in your phrasing, intonation, expression, and body language. Teach from your heart, by seeing what’s in front of you and giving suggestions that match what’s happening. Share a laugh, smile, and feel your feet as you walk around the room. These physical tips will help you feel more like yourself and relaxed.
Auditions can be nerve-wracking, but are becoming more standard as part of the hiring process. Do your best and try not to beat yourself up afterwards. Remember to ask your hiring contact the procedure for hearing back on the status of your interview so you know what to expect.