When you started your teacher training, you worked with one teacher. This person taught you how to teach and gave you the skills you needed to go out on your own and begin your teaching journey. He or she also shaped your perceptions of the yoga industry and helped you start your network.
Having a teaching mentor is an important part of your development as a yoga teacher. Regardless of how long you’ve been teaching, it’s critical to have a teacher from whom you can learn and grow. Here are ten reasons to find, reconnect or look for a new teaching mentor (notice I didn’t say guru):
1. Learn new poses.
Working with a mentor is a way to push yourself, with proper support and instruction, to try new poses. While your practice is not necessarily about doing any particular pose, the challenge of trying something new and all the accompanying feelings it brings up, is an important part of your growth as a teacher.
2. Learn new sequences.
When we work with a mentor, it’s a great way to learn new ways of sequencing. While we may be used to stringing poses together in a particular way, working with someone else can broaden our minds to other ways of putting a practice together.
3. Be a student.
As teachers, we’re constantly in “giving “ mode, helping people learn and experience yoga. In order to have energetic balance, it’s important that we're regularly in the mode of “student,” learning from someone else and being in that mode of uncertainty, openness and growth.
4. Strengthen your relationships with other teachers.
When you attend classes and events taught by your mentor, there's a good chance that others attendees will be teachers as well. Senior teachers have a strong following, and you’ll have ample opportunity to build bonds with other teachers as well. The power of your yoga network for professional and personal development cannot be underestimated.
5. Feel unsure and unsteady.
When you’re in learning mode, trying new poses and sequences, you need to manage feelings of unsteadiness and uncertainty. The longer you’ve been practicing and teaching, this may be something that has fallen away. It’s important to reconnect to these feelings so you can reaffirm the feeling of a “beginner’s mind.”
6. Challenge your perception of what you can and can’t do.
The longer we practice, the more set in our ways we can get. We may also decide that there are some things we can and can’t do before we even try them. Working with a mentor is a great way to challenge our own perceptions, and in many cases, expand our knowledge of what is possible.
7. Get inspired.
Working with someone you admire can inspire you to new levels of teaching and connecting with students and other teachers. If you’re feeling stale in your practice or teaching path, it can give you a much-needed boost of energy. If you’re feeling disconnected from your teaching community, it can strengthen those bonds.
8. Learn new ways of teaching the same poses.
We all have different ways of teaching the same poses. When you’ve been teaching for a while, you may get stuck in particular ways of teaching them, both from an alignment perspective and verbal instruction. Working with your mentor will keep you fresh and inspired with new ways to present the poses.
9. Expand your knowledge of yoga.
When we’re not expanding our knowledge as teachers, we're doing a disservice to our students. Working with a mentor is a way to learn new aspects of the practice so we can bring new information to the students we teach.
10. Give yourself someone to look up to and admire.
Along with being inspired, it’s great to admire someone. This isn’t about putting yourself down, trying to be like someone else or denying your own worth as a teacher. It’s about striving to be better, tapping into your own strengths and connecting to the passion that comes from being authentic with your students and with the people in your life.
Having a mentor is part of being a well-rounded teacher. Open your mind and heart and be inspired by someone so you can tap into your own strengths and share your gifts as a teacher with confidence and clarity.