So, you’ve completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training program, Congratulations! Now what? What are the next steps towards building a strong teaching skillset that engages and invites others into an experience beyond the yoga asana? Sounds like a substantial commitment. Well, that’s because it is. It’s a worthy endeavor for you, as a new teacher, to invest time in and commit to within a skillfulness of action that takes place now beyond your yoga teacher training experience.
Yoga teacher training programs should provide individuals with an opportunity to build a solid foundation on which they can then add the structural framework needed within the absorption and application of real-time teaching experiences. A 200-Hour training is just the beginning. A great start point. After completion of training, you will continue to learn, refine, and grow through the application of teaching.
It is important that within the 200-hour training experience, some key concepts of support be initiated in order for a solid footing to be established. Below are a few key concepts that will help you get started on your teaching pathway. These concepts will also be supportive of your ability to build, support, and create longevity within your pathway of service as a yoga teacher.
You will learn and develop as a teacher, through the very act of teaching. Practicing yoga and teaching yoga is not the same. Teaching yoga requires an entirely different skillset. It is important that yoga teachers begin teaching right away after they complete training in order to put into action all that was supported and learned with YTT. You can decide on what type of setting that will take place in. Be creative. Look around you and see where yoga classes are being offered and what type of class experiences are being offered. Check out class schedules at studios and gyms, community centers, and see where there is an opportunity waiting for you to make a connection and offer the wonderful practice of yoga within your community. Consider creating your own independent offering based upon the needs that you see around you. Look for opportunities where you can serve and will contribute towards your growth as a yoga teacher.
Hopefully, you were immersed heavily in practice teaching within your training experience so that stepping out to teach after the training will not feel foreign or like you’re just starting this process. Evaluate and reflect upon your teacher training experience. Evaluate how you showed up, how you contributed to your study and learning experience. Note which areas of study you feel you need to spend more time in absorption and application. All training programs will most likely tap into an overall study of topics but not all training experiences are designed or created equally with the same focus or emphasis. Depending upon the methodology and the teaching curriculum of the specific school that you received your training from, the focus may have been more heavily weighted in some areas of study than others.
Within the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program that I offer, it is of the greatest importance, for me, that trainees are equipped with the tools and in-depth practice teaching experiences within the training so that they can step out, with confidence, into teaching positions right away upon completion of the training. This is a “deal-breaker” for me. This doesn’t mean that trainees feel completely at ease with teaching right away or that development is not required. I know that I have supported and equipped them throughout the training with a layered-learning approach that sets them up for success as a teacher when they put the teaching principles into action. There is still work to be done. Now it’s time to put the knowledge into action. Absorption and application of the knowledge gained from the training experience must be cultivated through the act of teaching where a teacher learns and understands better where their opportunities for refinement are needed and strengthened. So, teach!
“When you hear 200 hours, it sounds like so much time and so much preparation for becoming a teacher, but then you graduate. You realize that you have been given this beautiful gift of a foundation but you don’t have your house yet.” Dominique Davis
Once the foundation is set through teacher training, the teacher can then build a structure that supports the transformational experiences that their teaching will invite individuals into. A skillful sequencing model or approach is a necessity and provides the framework for each class that you will teach. This sequencing structure should have been a key piece of your training experience. If you do not feel that you have a deep understanding of how to sequence and organize a yoga class experience then that is going to be a requirement for you to cultivate and learn right away. This is very important and will have a huge impact on your ability to create sustainability and longevity along the pathway as a yoga teacher. Nothing is random when it comes to sequencing. As a movement-based teacher, within the yoga asana experience, it is very important that you understand how to lead others effectively through the vehicle of their bodies within this physical piece of the practice. Your understanding of this felt experience will be aided heavily by your continued commitment and understanding found within your own personal practice. To go along with your sequencing structure, you should have developed an understanding of how to use your language to lead and direct others towards their own empowered understanding and experience within the yoga practice. Your cues and directional language matters and will have a direct impact on the experience you offer as a teacher.
Another important aspect of being a movement-based teacher is to understand and learn the body and how it moves. Asana captures our attention within the physical body. It is a powerful limb of the practice and a tool for which a teacher uses to guide students towards the pursuit of moving towards the stillness found within. It’s important that we understand better the organization and actions found within the physical layer through learning anatomy and physiology. Why is learning anatomy important? Knowledge gained and implemented through the application will always add validity and strengthen your ability to lead and guide others effectively. Within the movement limb of the yoga practice, it is important that teachers are equipped in understanding how they will connect their students to their physical bodies in order to access the interior layers of their mental and spiritual bodies. As a yoga teacher, you will do this through the continual study of anatomy, as it applies with relevance within the yoga asana practice. This understanding will heighten and elevate the practice of awareness that you offer students through physical practice. Your understanding of anatomy is coupled with the skillful sequencing structure mentioned earlier. Through the development of a strong anatomy understanding and skillful sequencing, supported by language that leads, you will be equipped to safely guide students through a supportive and adaptive experience. In this way, your guidance and leadership will build and hold a space of trust for your students and from that trust, they will feel more confident to explore a yoga practice that fits and serves their individual needs.
MENTAL VISION AND INTENTION
Some yoga teacher training programs may not include information about what steps to take towards teaching after completion of the training. This is important information to inquire about as you explore and decide on which training program you will pursue. It is important that you ask questions as part of your preparation steps for beginning a 200-Hour training. It is also important to inquire about what topics will be covered to support and prepare you for seeking teaching positions beyond the training. You should feel well-informed and supported within the vision that you set for your training experience. Seek information and training programs that will support your intention for pursuing training and your vision for teaching afterward. Remember that your personal practice preference may not be an accurate reflection of the intuitive teaching style that you develop within the training or the class style you ultimately teach. Be open to possibilities that aren’t defined by your personal preference but are produced within your organic teaching skillset that is generated and cultivated.
In Episode 2 of my Beyond Yoga Teacher Training Podcast, I have a conversation with Dominique Davis, a fairly new yoga teacher. Dominique shared some great insight and advice on setting vision and intention around your teacher training experience.
Have an understanding of who you are, and how you want to teach before you enter into the training. Cross-train and experience various teachers, methodologies, and styles of yoga prior, during, and after training.
Explore the teacher or yoga school that is offering the training that you are considering or enrolled within. If possible, practice with the teacher that you will be studying under. Explore their teaching style prior to the training. Check your energy when you are in practice under their guidance. How do you feel? Can you see yourself having a better, deeper, aligned understanding of how you want to teach through this training program?
Do not take a yoga teacher training out of convenience.
Humble your mind and heart towards others. Understand that the teacher trainer is not going to turn you into a teacher. You will need to put the work in to develop your own teaching skillset and style of teaching.
Intentions and manifestations won’t change you as a person. Sometimes after graduating from a teacher training program, we expect our yoga career to simply appear. We still have to develop and create structure upon the foundation that has been created through the training program. You must do the work. Yoga teacher training is not meant for you to emulate others, or become a version of your teacher trainer. Others have done the work before you, now it's time for you to step out and start doing the work of understanding and exploring how you will create the class experiences that you will offer in your teaching.
Remember the 200-Hour Yoga Teacher Training is a place to begin. Now, it’s time to step towards becoming a yoga teacher and then towards growing and expanding beyond.
I created the BEYOND YOGA TEACHER TRAINING Podcast as a resource to support and inspire new yoga teachers and encourage those already along the teaching pathway. Tune in and listen to new episodes weekly. Sandy will share stories and practical teaching tips from almost two decades of teaching experience and invite great conversations with inspiring guests to support you in your yoga practice, your teaching pathway...and beyond!