My truth about teaching yoga

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The internet is confettied with positive yoga-themed affirmations, messages of encouragement and stunning acrobatics from some of the planet’s most beautiful and bendiest bodies. There are yoga teachers, from novices to gurus, sharing their knowledge and empowering students to take to their mats in droves. And that’s a wonderful and positive thing.

Being a part of the yoga community is really special. Being a yoga teacher is an amazing privilege. But it hasn’t always been as smooth sailing and upbeat an experience for me as social media would have you believe is the norm. And I’m guessing I’m not the only one.

So I’m going to share, maybe even over share, because I like honesty and I think the internet, modern society, whatever you want to call it, encourages too many of us to lose sight of what’s real.

On the yoga teaching longevity spectrum, I’m relatively new to it all. People talk about the path to teaching yoga being a journey. For me it has been, and continues to be, more of an adventure – with twists, turns, highs and lows along the way.

I’ve been practicing yoga, with varying degrees of dedication, for around 16 years now. But the teaching game, and especially the business side of it, still holds uncharted territory for me.

I always thought it would be a thoroughly fulfilling way to do your bit to make the world even the tiniest bit more of a positive place – and it really is! I’ve got so much out of all the hours of teaching practice I’ve put in over the past year, from putting a couple of friends through their paces in my front room of a Tuesday evening to recording my teacher training video exam in another friend’s flat. I even had a practice run because the recording failed 15 minutes in the first time around! Can you believe it? Take two went without a hitch though, and I’m pleased to report that I passed.

Before I knew it, I had a regular gig teaching five or six lovely people in their seminar room at work every Friday lunchtime. That class continues to be one of the highlights of my week. I even drop in a little bit of pranayama and subtle philosophy now and then. It’s lovely to be able to help people step away from the challenges of their working day for an hour, to recalibrate and glide into the weekend feeling fabulous.

Teaching cover classes at a local gym has also turned out to be really enjoyable because you get such a wide range of amazing people in these classes, with a wide range of reasons for wanting to be there. I’ve had such lovely feedback from these groups too.

But it hasn’t all been a bed of roses. So what about the less good bits: the learning experiences? I’ve had a few.

When I first qualified, I set up a class that really didn’t turn out to be the roaring success that I’d planned for. I booked a hall, promoted the class on social media, and had about five or six people who said they’d like to come along to the first one. I was so determined for it to be a success, so you can imagine my disappointment when only three people showed up, two of whom were friends of friends who came along for moral support.

What went wrong? The issues began when I got so panicked about having enough mats and props that I ended up not being in a very good head space for the class. That afternoon, I had stalled my car at traffic lights, locked myself out of my house, and generally wondered what the hell I was thinking trying to pass myself off as a yoga teacher. Of the few months I kept that class going, I had a couple of people turn up. But I often showed up to an empty room, which really made me doubt myself and my ability.

There is a silver lining to this story though; I’m now working one to one with one of the women who came along to that class! And I’ve discovered that I love teaching on a one-to-one basis. I also now work one to one with the lovely woman who taught me First Aid when I first qualified.

It really is amazing what positive things can come from getting out into the world, being curious and talking to people, and it’s not always what you expect. I’ve relearned the old lesson that positives can often come out of negatives – but maybe not immediately. Patience is key.

It was a soul-destroying contract job that gave me the final push I needed to sign up to Sally Parkes’s 200-hour Laxmi Vinyasa Yoga Teacher Training course. It’s wonderful, by the way, if you’re thinking of taking the next step in your yoga practice.

You could say I have a lot to thank that job for. I’m a qualified yoga teacher – yay! Choosing to do that course is right up there with the best decisions I’ve ever made. And I’ll happily take a few lows in among the highs of teaching yoga because they’re all opportunities to learn and get better at what I do.

What other learning experiences and challenges have I had along the way?

I’ve had a fire alarm go off intermittently throughout a class. I’ve had to cancel a class due to the space being unsuitable. The empty class thing was definitely one of the hardest things to deal with to begin with, except for one other situation, which I had totally underestimated before I started teaching.

Picture the scene: you’ve come along to teach a regular group class, and just one student has turned up.

Let’s start with a positive example. In one case, I led the loveliest practice for the only woman who came along to a gentle flow class. She had a mild, pre-existing knee injury, so we modified and switched out poses. It turned out to be a really enjoyable hour of yoga for both of us. She left feeling calm and content, which left me feeling like I’d given her the high-quality yoga experience she’d come to class to receive. I really think our blend of personalities had so much to do with why this class was such a success.

On the flipside, I’ve ended up in an unintentional one-to-one with a strong personality who didn’t think they needed any guidance. In this case, my student seemed to pre-empt my instructions, which resulted in quite a bit of confusion. Having people who do this in a group class is fine because there are other people there who do want your help to focus on. One to one, it’s a bit different.

The biggest struggle I had with this situation was feeling like the other person wasn’t having a good experience in my class. I was aware that they probably felt just as uncomfortable as I did, if not more so. My style of yoga just didn’t suit what they were looking for. And I have to learn to be ok with that.

I focus on synchronising movement with breath to gracefully create space in the mind and the body. I’m not about trying to create ‘perfect’ asana shapes in a fast-paced, sweaty session. That’s not to say you’ll leave my class feeling like you haven’t worked for your lunch or dinner.

If you fancy trying out my style of teaching, you’ll find me at Studio iO, 3 Queen’s Place, Brighton on Mondays at 1 pm. It’s a 45-minute class so it’ll fit nicely into your lunch break.

Get in touch if you’d like to talk about booking me to bring yoga to your workplace or working one to one.

Why choose a Yoga Alliance Professionals registered yoga teacher?


With any type of physical activity, yoga included, there tends to be a healthy and safe way to do it. And then there are all the other ways.

We could be talking about something as straightforward and everyday as lifting a heavy cardboard box, to gently swinging your legs up into sarvangasana (that’s shoulder stand to you and me), right up to willingly jumping out of an aeroplane with a parachute strapped to your back.

The key thing with these activities and everything else in between is that while we’re doing them we need to take care of our bodies if we want them to keep on working for us. That’s why, whether you’re a seasoned yogi or you’re just finding your tadasana feet, being guided by someone who’s got your back – and your core, legs, arms, head and neck – should be top of your priority list.

Choosing to practice with a Yoga Alliance Professionals registered teacher gives you peace of mind. You can rest assured that you’re being guided safely into each pose by a legitimate teacher who has been trained to the highest standards.

As with any subject matter, if a yoga teacher stops learning themselves, it makes it very hard for them to educate and inspire their students. That’s why Yoga Alliance Professionals actively encourages its members to keep on learning more about yoga. This professional body’s qualifications and marks are recognised across the world, and you’ll find member teachers in every continent.

Lauren at Green Lotus Yoga is a Yoga Alliance Professionals registered yoga teacher. Her Laxmi Vinyasa RYT-200 yoga teaching qualification is registered with the Independent Yoga Network (IYN). And she is affiliated to the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA). Find out more about what it’s like to practice yoga with Lauren.

Love the idea of one-to-one yoga for less?

For a limited time only, Green Lotus Yoga is offering one-to-one yoga for just £30 per session per person. You can book up to 6 sessions per person at this amazing price.

Adults of all levels and ages are invited to sign up. Just make sure you book by 30 September 2017 to avoid missing out. Sessions paid for by this date will be valid for 6 months from the date of purchase*.

Why do yoga?

The list of benefits yoga provides covers everything from increased flexibility and strength to helping regulate blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Not to mention the many mental health benefits – from alleviating depression and anxiety to helping you stay calm in the face of life’s daily challenges.

Why sign up for yoga one-to-ones?

If you book a private yoga session or a series of private yoga sessions with us, we’ll help you get exactly what you need from your practice. You may want to increase your confidence so you can enjoy going along to group classes. It could be that you’re a keen sports player who needs to work on strength and flexibility. Or maybe you’re looking for a safe space away from the outside world to truly relax in the comfort of your own home. Whatever you need from your yoga time, we’d love to help.

Book now at hello@greenlotusyoga.co.uk or call 07736 677138.

Find out more about our private yoga sessions.

 

* T&Cs

  • Book up to 6 sessions at £30 per person per session with this offer.
  • Sessions bought on or before 30 September 2017 will be valid for 6 months from date of purchase.
  • Offer expires 30 September 2017.
  • Additional travel costs apply for locations more than 5 miles from Horsham, West Sussex.
  • You must be 18 or over to take advantage of this offer.