So, you’ve developed your personal yoga practice through hours of asana and meditation classes while exploring different types of yoga. You’ve taken a plethora of class styles like Ashtanga yoga, restorative yoga, and Bikram yoga and narrowed down your favorite style (or two)…
…and even taken the time to learn inversion postures – emphasis on the “learn” and not the master 😉
But mostly, through it all, you’ve fallen in love with each step and want to scream mindfulness from the rooftops. And now you wanna know how to become a yoga instructor.
Well, a 200-hour certification teacher training program certainly helps and so does understanding the Yoga Alliance.
But there are a few things that the Yoga Alliance and your certification program won’t tell you ahead of time. Being an experienced teacher myself, I’m here to give you a heads up on a few of these things.
10 Truths About Becoming A Yoga Instructor
Let’s dive deeper than the surface of hours of studying anatomy and teaching methodology in a training program. Being a good teacher doesn’t just mean that you’re certified. After all, teaching yoga goes far beyond an accredited training.
In fact, being a yoga instructor means having an understanding of spirituality that seeps into every facet of life and is just as much about your experience as it is practicing physical yoga postures.
Here are ten things most people won’t tell you about becoming a yoga instructor.
1. You gotta find your truth…
Like I said, becoming a certified yoga teacher is more than having those RYT letters next to your name and guiding students through postures. You’re guiding others along a path, be that through the lens of Yin yoga, Hatha yoga, Vinyasa yoga, Ashtanga yoga, or Yoga Nidra.
And sometimes that’s hard work.
A lot of purification comes up in the process, forcing us to face our inner demons head on and learning how to reconcile them so that we can authentically live the yogic lifestyle. In order to teach yoga in its fullest form, you must start living your own truth before you can be the vessel to guide others.
2. Good yoga instructors are always working towards their truth…
Finding your truth through yoga and meditation is hard, I’m not going to lie. But kickstarting your yoga instructor career starts with your own vulnerability. It’s uncomfortable and beautiful and draws you into the yoga community in brilliant ways.
And the work never stops.
You’ve got to always be working towards this truth. And I don’t mean the hand-holding-flower-crown-no-shaving truth that we see on airy fairy blogs. I mean the truth of, this is who I am and this is how I can work to be better. These are my flaws and this is my value. This is my worth and this worth is the same in all living beings.
Touching those parts of yourself allows you to hold space for others to do the same. And that’s what a yoga teacher does, instructor certification or not.
3. Growth will hit you in all the feels…
As you can imagine, all that vulnerability hits you hard, especially if you decide to do an intensive yoga instructor training. Studying yogic philosophy, exploring anatomy and physiology, learning Sanskrit names for yoga asanas, reading the Yoga Sutras and getting your practice teaching hours in is a lot, especially on top of extreme personal growth within 30 days.
Sometimes you’ll be soaring with love and joy…
…and sometimes you’ll sink to really dark lows. But that’s a part of the proces. You’ll experience the entire gamut of emotions throughout the process.
But rest assured that it will all fall naturally as it should and you’ll have plenty of support from your teachers and your peers. Trust the process.
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4. It’s definitely a popularity contest…
Yes, yoga is all about being authentic and organic, but the truth is marketing yourself and filling classes is all about popularity. And the more class spots you can fill, the more that yoga studios and yoga retreats will want you in their circles.
But you don’t just finish a yoga teacher certification with thousands of Instagram followers and a 3,000 person mailing list.
If you want these, you need to put in the work. It requires endless hours of unpaid self-marketing and promotion, free yoga classes to your friends, online yoga flyers for your weekly vinyasa flow classes, group fitness style yoga classes at your local YMCA, and sometimes swallowing your ego when just three people show up to your Ashtanga class. Use these opportunities to develop your teaching skills and don’t get discouraged. If you build it, they will come.
5. You invest a LOT of time and money…
Experienced teachers will tell you that gaining a yoga certification is just a small step in actually becoming a yoga instructor. Sequencing asana themes, creating playlists, building a following, constantly studying anatomy, gaining teaching experience, and scriptwriting are all moving parts of becoming a yoga teacher.
And that’s in addition to the money you’ll spend on your certification, continuing education courses, marketing, and all the other yoga teacher things. It’s not just about vinyasa and holding space.
So find a balance between what you’re willing to invest and what you can afford to invest in your time and hard-earned dollars
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6. Don’t ditch the day job, [yet]…
Speaking of hard-earned dollars… a yoga teacher doesn’t make many of them, especially while trying to gain teaching experience. Your average teacher out of certification will make anywhere from $15-25 per hour for yoga studios (depending on the location) that pay hourly, some will charge per person that attends your classes.
Taking into account all the time and planning that goes into a single class, that’s not a lot you earn as a yoga instructor. This is why investing in marketing yourself for private clients and holding workshops is a great way to make extra cash. But take it from me, don’t quit your day job YET.
7. The goal is not to master, it’s to guide…
This is one of the best pieces of advice I was given during my first certification program and I carry it with me every day. As a certified teacher, you sometimes feel like you need to know everything from prenatal yoga and kidding around yoga to every pranayama breathing exercise that’s ever existed.
But the truth is, even those with the highest level of education in the healing arts are learning something new every day. That’s how you keep growing.
8. It’s a lifelong education…
Now that we’re on the topic of growth and continuing education, let’s talk about how one learns all the fancy yoga asanas and pranayama techniques.
Here’s the secret… it’s simple, ask a lot of questions and get hands-on experience. The trick is to never be the smartest person in the room, seriously.
Go to workshops at a local yoga studio, invest in an online yoga program, explore new breathing techniques and always take the time to learn from others. And that doesn’t just mean those with a yoga RYT certification, talk to fitness trainers and instructors from all walks of the world. Take the time to study the ways our bodies can move and put your brain in a new perspective to enhance your teaching style.
9. Good yoga teachers are like good wine, they get better with time…
With all that educating and growing, this just makes sense. Like any profession, your first few years will be a lot of trial and error.
You’ll make a lot of mistakes and you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. With time, this will all settle and you’ll find comfort in your style. There will be yoga trainers you wholeheartedly connect with on every level and others you simply only connect to while on your yoga mat, and that’s ok. Patience is truly a virtue when you practice yoga when you teach yoga, and in the meditation and mindfulness world as a whole.
So when you first get in front of a room full of students, don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t go well. Sometimes it won’t. But it will get better.
10. It’s an art form…
Once you understand the work that goes into sequencing and script planning, this point will really sink in. A good yoga trainer can take all the training courses under the sun, but it’s up to them to take the practice into their own unique hands. Be that any yoga style under the sun, Kripalu, Bikram, group classes or private yoga classes. You’re the artist, the body and mind are your muses.
All that being said, becoming a yoga instructor may not for everyone, but for those who feel a calling. It can be a magical and rewarding path to follow. Remember, find your truth and listen to what arrises in your body, mind, and soul. Now go out and sprinkle your artistic magic into the world.