FINDING YOUR CONFIDENCE
In the matter of dealing with yoga teacher jitters, confidence doesn’t always reveal itself as expected.
Certainties: You love yoga. You know this from a deep place inside your being. Everything about yoga practice screams a loud, ethereal “YES!” You’ve dished out the big bucks and completed a rigorous and intensive yoga teacher training that involved some pretty deep, soul-searching work on your part. You’ve emerged as not only a committed, lifetime student of yoga, but now a certified teacher with a vast world of possibilities before you.
But, darn it, what’s with all the nerves and anxiety? Surely, your training and passion is sufficient for the role of teacher. Your heart is in the right place. You truly want to share and help others because, let’s face it, we yoga teachers don’t do it for the money. We are driven like the prototypical “starving artist”, by what seems to be a force much larger than our physical bodies, something older, wiser — the voice, the calling. Who cares if we have to eat pinto beans and rice for a year? You’re happy doing it because it feels right and it is groovy, man.
Not-So-Certainties: Can I be successful as a yoga teacher or will I meet that dreaded f-word (yes, I am referring to failure)? Can I run a business? Will studios hire me? What if I mess up or offend someone or, lordy-heavens-almighty-in-the highest, hurt somebody? What if students hate my class? Hate me? What if studio finally hires me and then (the other dreaded f-word) fires me? What kind of teacher am I?
Exhausting, isn't it?
To this, I will simply say: Teaching is another form of yoga, really a practice in itself. Not all of these questions will be answered right away just as you weren’t able to do every yoga posture in your first class (perhaps a bit presumptuous, but in regards to people that do not struggle with asanas, well, I will restrict my comments to my own mind space). In other words, you will never “get it done.” It’s the journey, not the destination and other such whimsical metaphors … you get it.
So, yep — been there, done that. Here is something that helped me when I first began teaching and feeling, at times, as though I might not be successful. A meditation of sorts, to be read before you teach a class:
Meditation for New Yoga Teachers
It is not about me.
It is not about whether they like me
or whether they are going to come back to my class.
It is not about my performance.
It is about helping people to have the best experience possible,
helping them explore their bodies safely.
It is about empowering others to seek their potential.
It is about sharing, giving, and offering myself completely.
And by opening up in this way,
giving others permission to do the same —
It is not about me.
So, you see, your confidence comes not from validating yourself and your credentials, or even from trying really hard to be the best teacher ever, both of which the outcomes are an intense focus on yourself (you selfish son-of-a …). It comes from letting go and allowing your focus to be in the present moment, which when you are teaching a yoga class, is on instructing others in their postures. When you are present and fully engaged in the moment, you are genuine. You are not focused selfishly on your performance. Confidence comes from that deep, intrinsic place, that voice that speaks so loudly to you, “YES!” Let go of the chatter, the questions and insecurity. Be honest, be genuine. Here you will find success that really means something.
Fortunately, from experience in yoga classes, you already have the tools to make this all possible. You have practiced letting go and being present and without judgement. Time to practice what you teach. Incidentally, we teach what we most need to learn.
So go on, you know you've got this.
If you enjoyed this post, please share with fellow newbies or yoga teacher trainees using the buttons below!
Photo courtesy of Anna Ferguson.