It’s been roughly a year and a half since I started teaching yoga publicly. Being able to consistently hold space for students and potential interest in friends alike has something that I have never openly acknowledged and fathomed but this is something I am coming into full acceptance and gratitude for all of this unfolding. As friends, family, and older students have approached me and asked about this recent one-year benchmark, I had to pause and think about the progress that has been made over the past 12 months and the future as to where I will be heading.
I was pretty headstrong and naive when I first began teaching. I thought I would be able to land a fully booked schedule of permanent classes each week at a variety of studios across the city. I guess that’s the general misconception of your role from anyone OUTSIDE the fitness and wellness industry.
You don’t start off with a roster of regularly attending students - nobody knows who you are or what you represent - heck, you don’t even start off with your own permanent classes.
I guess got off pretty lucky then.
I enrolled in a mentorship program at a local yoga studio last August, working with one of my favourite and well-seasoned yogis to improve my own sequencing, cuing and better finding my voice in the style and methodology that I felt most comfortable with. Within a very supportive community that I was already very familiar with of instructors, friends, and yoga enthusiasts alike, I was able to refine and simplify what it was that I wanted to teach.
A colleague of mine had mentioned that volunteering at the YMCA as an instructor would be of absolute benefit, especially while getting started, and I hopped onto that train immediately. After visiting a local YMCA centre, and auditioning with the programming staff, I was onboarded to teach by the end of September.
When I first started teaching, there were many opportunities on my palate. I must say I was blessed to have an early and consistent line-up of teaching timeslots, however, there were definitely many hiccups on the way that I wish I would have known or better prepared for. If you are starting in your career of teaching or coaching, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind:
The timeslots of these classes sometimes brings few if not, any students for the first few weeks.
How to retain new students?
How to work with the studio owner to ensure the timeslots work for most people?
Clear and efficient communication of your needs with studio management and staff
It takes time to find the environment that you vibe with and can appreciate the timeliness and effort for management staff to support you and accommodate for any class needs and changes.
Accept payment for your time
Regardless if you are teaching or assisting or simply showing up for your scheduled class - saying yes or asking for payment is not wrong nor should it feel guilt-induced.
If monetary payment is not available, then an exchange of services or other proprietary item can be requested in lieu of your time.
That being said, never do it for the money or reputation.
Try to see it from the viewpoint of your students or attend more classes yourself. Reputable instructors with a large following are never after the money
You attract the vibe of the tribe that you will naturally belong in. Don’t try to be everywhere all at once, in hopes that someone in a higher, managerial position will notice you.
Take on open subbing opportunities but also be able to say "no.”
One of the most imminent things I’ve learned while making yourself available to sub is sometimes knowing when to pass over a good opportunity to someone else. There will always be other teaching opportunities if you maintain good relationships and strong networks so be careful if you are weaning yourself thin just to take on an additional class.
You will gradually receive more opportunities to teach based on the quality of the classes you sub, not the quantity.
Not every studio will provide the support you need to grow as an instructor.
On top of thinking I could teach fast-pased power and vinyasa classes, I had to actually simplify my sequences and improve my cuing for slower Hatha-based classes.
Since then, I have learned to teach at a slower and engaging pace and make time to attend and teach more mindful Meditation, Restorative and Yin classes in addition to my regular Vinyasa Flow classes. I have also assisted a handful of classes providing hands-on touch, adjustments, massage and Reiki. Providing energy healing is a practice that enables my own