By Faye Martins
What are the most common mistakes of yoga teachers? We’ve all had a bad yoga class. Sometimes the mistakes or problems were obvious, and sometimes we just left with a vague feeling of unease. Most likely, after a bad class with a new yoga teacher, we decided to try something else next time. If students seem to be dropping away from a class, perhaps some of the common mistakes of yoga teachers are being made. Here are some of the mistakes, and how to correct or avoid them in our classes.
1. Taking oneself too seriously. Yoga is important, of course, but so are many other experiences in life. If you find that an entire yoga class has gone by with no reason to smile, lighten up. On the bright side, you are getting better everyday and you are teaching in a professional manner, but you have to lighten up, because a teacher with a heavy heart is going to create classes that don’t seem like much fun to be in. Think about your classes from a student’s point of view and cultivate a positive atmosphere. The end result is that your classes should be an activity students can’t wait to be a part of – again and again.
2. Overestimating skill levels or letting the ego get in the way. A good Yoga teacher recognizes limits. He or she may not be able to comfortably teach every practice that they can do by themselves. Taking a weekend workshop and trying to incorporate brand-new skills in class can do more harm than good, if the training is not complete or too advanced. Resist the urge to “show off” new skills or asanas that are newly mastered. If you find yourself frustrated with students who aren’t “getting it,” it is a sure sign that the ego is getting the way of teaching.
3. Insecurity. No practice is perfect – that’s why it’s called practice! Know that mistakes will be made and accept correction. A teacher who believes him or herself infallible is asking for trouble. I was lucky to be trained by an empath. Going back in time, when I taught classes at Aura Wellness Center in 2006, Paul used to sit in classes, because the facility in North Providence had multiple studios. My point is: Having your mentor quietly participate in the back of your class puts your ego in check. Later, I would travel and teach classes around the world, but I would always teach as if my mentor sat in my class.
4. Not treating teaching yoga like a profession. Yoga may be a calling, but teaching is a profession. Being professional means starting and ending classes on time. Overly personal or negative comments to students should be avoided, and keep blogs or emails to students on topic. Don’t gossip about other yoga teachers. Maintain records and a clean, safe area for practice.
5. Great teachers value consistency. This does not mean that practice needs to be the same every week! However, chasing trends and introducing a new prop every class is likely to alienate those students who feel as though they “clicked” with the style offered. When a new skill is thoroughly understood, by all means it should be introduced, but the general format of the class should be consistent over time.
If some of the common mistakes of yoga teachers hit close to home, don’t despair. Recognizing a problem is the first step in correcting it. With insight into the issues, a strong practice and dedicated students are right around the corner.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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