I remember very clearly the day I decided to become a yoga teacher. I had been taking yoga classes for about two years, and loved how yoga made me feel physically. I was also noticing a subtle shift in mindset that reduced the feelings of doubt and lack of confidence I had been experiencing in my career and personal life.
My enthusiasm for yoga was so strong that touting the benefits of yoga to my friends and work colleagues was a daily event, so taking a yoga teacher training course seemed like a natural step. I believed that everybody could benefit from yoga, and I was all fired up about teaching and sharing what I loved.
Having now trained hundreds of yoga teachers, I see that same spark of enthusiasm and passion in my trainees that I felt all those years ago. Most people who make the transition from being a student of yoga to becoming a teacher do so because they’ve been inspired by a teacher and by the profound effects of the practice.
Being a yoga teacher is by no means easy. But teaching yoga is extremely rewarding, and there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your students light up to their own potential through the practice of yoga. We teach yoga to facilitate transformation and change lives. Staying connected to our own inspiration, passion and purpose is essential to being able to continually show up for our students day after day, week after week, year after year. Remembering what brought us to the mat in the first place, what kept us coming back, and why we chose the path of a teacher are necessary elements in keeping our own passion for yoga alive, and in keeping our teaching fresh, uplifting and inspirational.
The main role of a yoga teacher is to show students a pathway to awaken their potential as human beings. Yoga is only a little about asana, and a lot about how we feel, think and relate while practicing. LA-based Power Yoga teacher Bryan Kest says, “The asanas are what we’re doing while we’re doing our yoga.”
Most teachers will lead people through an appropriate sequence of yoga postures with a focus on the alignment of the body; they will describe some of the benefits of the poses, and tell their students when to breathe in and out.
An inspirational teacher will take their students on an experiential journey with expertise, knowledge, patience, passion, compassion, empathy, connection and creativity. An inspirational teacher will be able to articulate to their students their own deep and personal connection to yoga, the really “juicy” stuff that will make their students’ eyes light up and trigger “a-ha moments”. To become inspiring teachers we need to transcend the technical and take our teaching to new realms where we touch the hearts and minds of our students. We need to move beyond the “what” to the “why”.
Author and visionary thinker Simon Sinek shares how great leaders in history have inspired action by communicating their “why”, their main motivating factor in why they do what they do. Sinek states, “Your ‘why’ is the very reason you exist.” Sharing your “why” – your inspiration as a teacher – will connect your students to their own passion for yoga, and this is what will encourage them to return to the mat.
Inspiring classes don’t necessarily arise from the sequence of asanas (the “what”) or the alignment cues for the asanas (the “how”), but the way in which a teacher conveys his or her passion for yoga, and what yoga means to them. Discovering your “why” could be the missing link in transforming your classes from technical to inspirational. Don’t be mistaken in thinking that technical is not helpful – it certainly is. But it’s generally not what drives people to return to your class again and again.
Sharing your “why” is about being able to communicate your passion and your purpose for teaching yoga directly with your students. It’s like a thread that weaves through everything you do – from your class descriptions, themes and sequences right down to your website, bio and business cards.
Knowing your purpose as a yoga teacher is about sharing your authentic self, and setting the intention to teach yoga in a way that honours that. If your purpose is to help people heal through yoga, your class sequences will be geared towards that goal, your language will take on a healing tone, and compassion and caring will emanate from your entire being.
Finding your passion is like finding your personal road map. When you know what your passion is, you feel motivated, inspired, and so much
clearer about your offerings as a teacher. When you’re passionate about something, it feels like a “yes”. As yoga teachers, we start with a desire to share our passion for yoga, but we can quickly get bogged down with the technicalities of teaching yoga, and
lose that spark.
Making a conscious effort to continually connect to your passion and purpose, and sharing your “why” can transform your teaching so that each time you step on the mat, inspiration flows effortlessly. Get clear about what ignites and sustains your passion for yoga, and share this wholeheartedly with your students. Be inspired, and
the authentic teacher will emerge.
TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR “WHY”
- Ask yourself what it feels like to be
authentically you. What lights you up?
- Focus on what you love.
What makes you smile?
- Discover your values. What is your
personal moral code or internal
compass that drives your
decision-making and behaviour?
- Own your uniqueness. Where do you shine? What is your special blend of talents, gifts, wisdom, strengths, skills and creativity?
- Recognise the recurring patterns and themes in your life. What are you drawn to again and again?
- Cultivate confidence. Find the edges of your discomfort and lovingly challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone.
Nicole Walsh is the co-founder of InYoga, a vibrant Vinyasa studio in Sydney’s
Surry Hills. She has been teaching for more than 15 years and is passionate
about inspiring yoga teachers to discover their “why” through InYoga’s
200-hour, 350-hour and 500-hour teacher trainings. www.inyoga.com.au,
Instagram @inyogalife @nicolewalshyoga