Dear New Teachers

What would you tell yourself?

We asked 4 successful yogis what advice they would give to their younger selves.

John Ogilvie, Director and Founder of Byron Yoga Centre

I first started teaching over 30 years ago when yoga was still on the fringes of what was considered ‘normal’ activity. So firstly I would tell my younger self that by 2018 people won’t be asking ‘why do you do yoga’ they will be asking ‘what style of yoga do you do’.

I would definitely tell myself to take it a bit easier on the asana practice and to guide myself, and my students, towards a more holistic practice that includes a balance of meditation, pranayama and self-reflection.

As I look back I can now see how hard I was on myself. How I set ridiculously high standards for myself and I stressed out that I wasn’t a good enough teacher. It is easy when you start out to look at established teachers – for me this was people like Eve Grzybowski and Shandor Remete – and to compare yourself unfavourably. What I now tell our teacher trainees at Byron Yoga Centre is that everyone can find their own niche. Beginner students often find it intimidating to go to a very experienced teacher and they actually resonate most with someone just starting out on their teaching path.

I also now think it’s so important to strive not for perfection as a teacher but for authenticity. As I had studied both Iyengar and Ashtanga Yoga, my teaching style when I started out was a little confused! It took me a few years to develop the style I now call Purna Yoga. Purna means ‘complete’,  at Byron Yoga Centre we take an integrated approach that includes asana, mediation, pranayama and philosophy. The asana is a hatha style that focuses on correct alignment and adapting, or offering variations, for all levels of practitioners.

As I moved from a yoga teacher to a studio owner to teacher trainer and then to creating our retreat centre – there were times when I thought I was too busy to teach. I would certainly want to remind myself at key moments how important it is to keep connected to students. That it is through both teaching and my own practice that I maintain the juice to keep my vision on track. There is a Zen quote that says: ‘Meditate for half an hour every day unless you are too busy. In that case meditate for an hour.”

Ducan Peak, Founder & CEO, Power Living

“Ahh…the benefits of hindsight,” I say to myself as I scratch my greying beard with a cheeky smile, acknowledging all the challenges I’ve experienced along the way.

Firstly, it would be to get clear on what type of teacher inspires you, the type of teacher you aspire to be and how serious you are about traditional practice. What level of discipline do you have? Is it a disciplined, rigorous and devoted yoga path you desire, or is it a modern path, focused on physical fitness, mobility and more mental/spiritual health benefits? Accept that choice with grace and then follow your heart. The latter choice was the right path for me, wanting to share that wisdom with the world.

I would tell myself to specialise in a specific area (or areas) instead of being a jack of all trades. For you this could be focusing on philosophy, anatomy, biomechanics, Sanskrit or something else your heart is drawn to. Treat yoga as your craft, bringing to life what yoga means to you as a way of Being.

Also, step into your power, do the work and teach your heart out. Remember, “No effort on this path is ever wasted” said Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Lastly, enjoy the journey, don’t take it too seriously and stay true to yourself.

Louise Solomon, Founder, Yogalates

How fast the years pass through movement and breath, its like one flowing vini class as I sit and reflect on self; the oh so younger teacher that I was.

In hindsight a good part of my wisdom was already there a knowing that hasn’t left it just changes form. My heart felt love my mind peace from my Yoga practise why don’t I share this with others.

So my younger wise self decides to impart on a Yoga Teacher Training, as a single mother living in a share home minimal income living week to week.

Those were the days when Centrelink paid for Yoga courses and in sleepy old Byron as it was back then I balanced coffees trained and embodied motherhood. Like really what was I thinking.

Innately I had the trust the faith I used mantra wrote positive teaching vibes “I am a great Yoga Teacher” many many times…. I reflect on that and I think wow that manifested a toast to“ the power of thought “ and would I change anything the answer is no.

It was a struggle on many levels wasn’t easy but I wouldn’t be where I am without the many lessons on my path and that’s called living!

Moment by precious moment, class after class after class the immersion into Darhma; and I still to this day love the person that I am when I teach.

My note to self would be: Not to worry as I did; I did struggle with doubt.

The only person holding my younger self back was me and to stop participating in that mindset.

Not to worry about the judgment of others as its more a reflection of them

That your self worth consists of who you are not what you have

Trust Love OR Not to think that you know all there is to teaching Yoga. The path to being a good teacher is the learning curve of life the decades will teach you refine you. The many client’s bodies that both challenge and ease you. The adapting and excepting of change through science and function in the embodiment of posture breath and prop. Keep an open mind.

Bianca Machliss, Director Yoga Synergy

That’s a good one – I would tell myself today what I told myself then – it takes time to become a good teacher and the essential ingredient is having passion about what you are doing – just keep practicing and learn from every class that you teach and attend – examine each class (keep a notebook) and see what made it great or not great and use that information to improve your own teaching. Check the responses of students all the time to what you are saying and doing. If you stick at it (anything) then in 10 years you might be ok at it. Accept and know that you don’t “know” everything, have the humility to move students on to a more experienced teacher if they are as good as you or need more, don’t feel you have to have the answer to everything, when you don’t know you don’t know – say so and try to find out the answer……Unfortunately I think most of the “graduates” and new teachers today are so full of ego they think they just know it all……

I was a very reluctant teacher – I didn’t “want” to do it – I was asked to do it. Usually I find my best teachers that I train are the ones I spot and gently push into doing it – because they don’t come from an ego position of thinking they are great they can be moulded and encouraged to believe in themselves, and they pay more attention to what they are being told to do – the ones that know it all already just don’t last with me – and often do not continue teaching…..

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