5 Survival Tips for Teaching Your First Yoga Class
So, you’ve finished your initial 200 hour yoga teacher training. Congratulations! You’ve got the certification in your hand and found somewhere to teach. Now you have to get up in front of a group and lead a yoga practice. Terrifying, right? I thought so too, but I promise it’s not anywhere near as scary as you think it is. Take a deep breath, make a plan, and enjoy yourself.
- Breathe. Just breathe.
Yoga students can smell your fear. It’s normal to be nervous, but don’t let it overcome you. I spend a lot of time reminding my students to breathe and then often forget myself! Public speaking is not something that comes naturally to everyone, but it is a skill that everybody can develop through practice. I needed to practice with close friends again and again before I felt like I was starting to get a handle on my nerves. The more you practice, the more comfortable you will become.
- Never apologise.
There’s a good chance you might slip up – get your left foot confused with your right, miss a pose in your carefully designed class plan, forget what that thing connecting your head to your shoulders is called, but don’t panic. Smile at your students and laugh. Never apologise. Of course it’s instinctual, to say you’re sorry, but try to get out of the habit when you’re leading a class. I have, on occasion, seen some of the most efficient yoga teachers I know lose their way. Everybody makes mistakes.The majority of the time, your students won’t even notice.
- Keep it simple.
You’re new. No one expects you to be teaching complicated classes. I know it’s tempting to be creative, but don’t get carried away. The more intricate your flow, the more opportunity there is for you to make mistakes, forget what you’re doing, mix up your left and your right, or just simply have a nervous breakdown mid-class. The first time I constructed a class, I tried running through it myself and quickly realised that I was pushing myself too hard, let alone any prospective students.
- Don’t be too proud to have a plan.
Even the best yoga teachers go into classes with a plan. Experienced teachers will have sequences that they know like the back of their hand and so formulating a class is fairly easy, but as you start out, you will need to put a lot of thought into the structure of your class. I like to have a brief plan written out in a small notebook to keep beside my mat at the front of the class, just in case I get lost and need a quick reminder of what comes next.
- Teach what you practice.
The most important piece of advice I learned during my teacher training was the mantra, “Teach what you practice.” Everyone has their limitations, even yoga teachers! A pivotal moment for me in training was when our anatomy teacher demonstrated that, due to the length of his torso, he was unable to do Parivritta Parsvakonasana (revolved side angle). It doesn’t matter how flexible or strong you are, there are just some poses that you may never achieve due to your body type. If you don’t practice Headstand, don’t teach it. If you are not flexible enough to do the splits, don’t teach it. If you don’t have the hip rotation to do Lotus, don’t teach it. It’s not just about demonstrating a pose; it’s also a matter of knowing the asana well enough in your own body to be able to ensure the safety of your students.
10 Reasons to Eat Raw During Your Yoga Teacher Training
Yoga teacher training is a life-changing experience that will require you to find focus, strength and energy if you want to learn, achieve, feel, experience and become your higher self. Being your true self means being devoid of the need to be egotistical, small-minded and petty. Remember that you are part of a much bigger picture that is inextricably connected to all life forms, including nature. Only then do you have the ability to share your knowledge through teaching.
Teaching is the absolute best way to continue this lifelong discovery at an extensive level of depth. It is a natural and likely consequence of a teacher training. In this way, sincere students learn yoga for the correct reasons and become great teachers for the correct reasons.
During a teacher training, help is needed from your teachers, fellow students, inner self, mind and body. One of the strongest tools for helping your body to function well, is eating the correct diet. Raw food has the nourishment and components that supply you with all the necessary energy, vitality and optimal cell reproduction. It helps you to keep going.
Good food has to be pure in order to keep your body healthy and alert, strong and light. Raw food helps your body and mind cope with the intense schedule and inner exploration that the best yoga teacher trainings provide. This also correlates with the first yama: Ahimsa (Ahimsa meaning nonviolence in thought, word and action to yourself and others). This promise to yourself is taken from the Yoga Sutra’s (2.35), the definitive description of yoga recorded and inspired through experiential research. I look at ahimsa as an enlightened commandment.
How Raw Food Will Help You Keep Up With the High Demands of a Yoga Teacher Training
1. Raw food leads your body towards natural health.
By eating raw you are on your way to a state of self-fixing. As the human body has the ability to regenerate cells continuously, having a raw food diet will enable your body to become pure and renewed through the intake of uncooked food.
2. Your body performs better when eating raw.
Eating in this way allows your body to feel agile and manageable. Your digestion uses less energy therefore giving you more vitality for your yoga practice. When you only practice a few times a week this might not be so important for you, but during four or more weeks of intensive training you will need your body in order to keep up with this experience.
3. Your body needs vitamins and minerals.
Raw food is rich in natural vitamins and minerals that are easily digested and absorbed by your body.
4. Raw food increases your awareness mentally, physically and spiritually.
This is important if you want to have the capacity to collect and process all the information given to you.
5. Raw food boosts your natural energy levels
In abundance, so you can rely on it to function at a top level during this extended time.
6. During a life changing experience, changes need to happen in your body too.
The body purifies itself from toxins with a raw food diet. Being clean and unpolluted allows you to reconnect with your true inner self.
7. Eating raw food puts you in a harmony with nature.
Mens sana in corpore sano (a healthy mind in a healthy body). To become a more hale and hearty, happy and sensitive person you need to have a coherent, high functioning body.
8. Food promotes longevity
According to the Bhagavad Gita (xsll.8), saatvic (pure) food promotes longevity, wellbeing, strength, goodness, happiness and pleasure. They are also rich, juicy, agreeable and nourishing.
9. Raw food prepared with an attitude of love increases our prana (life-force energy)
Which is essential if we want to sustain and utilize our maximum amount of effort wisely.
10. Raw food helps to turn your body into a temple for your mind and soul.
According to Patanjali, who wrote the most classical text on yoga, “the purpose of yoga is to lead to a silence of the mind” (yoga sutra 1.2). Through yoga, commitment, patience and compassion for yourself, you can achieve the silence of the mind, the freedom of the soul and joyfulness in your life.