- Step 1: Articulate Your Reasons for Doing Yoga and Take the Time to Discover What Motivates Your Students
- Step 2: Focus on the Style You Like
- Step 3: Obtain the Necessary Equipment
- Step 4: Decide Where to Hold Your Sessions
- Step 5: Ensure You Have Clothing Suitable for Yoga Poses
- Step 6: Set the Structure of Your Yoga Teaching Sessions
- Step 7: Continue Training and Reviewing Your Practice, Even After Becoming a Yoga Instructor
Before you start teaching your first yoga lessons, you need to feel confident you're properly prepared.
It's natural to be nervous when the time comes to teach your first sessions—whether you're offering private classes online or have secured work at a larger yoga studio, it's natural to wonder if you're good enough.
You can guarantee success if you ensure you've allocated adequate preparation time and to try and maintain your positivity throughout the session.
Now, take a few minutes to read our seven steps towards mastering the art of yoga teaching.
Step 1: Articulate Your Reasons for Doing Yoga and Take the Time to Discover What Motivates Your Students
As a new yogi, it's essential you understand the reasons behind your yoga practice.
Think back to your first few classes—what were your goals?
Perhaps you wanted help to:
- improve your sleep cycle
- reduce your stress level
- increase mental strength or physical health
- find work-life balance
- learn relaxation or meditation
People decide to learn yoga for a range of reasons—both physical and emotional. Your job is to read these reasons and help develop their practice.
Part of becoming a yoga instructor involves motivating your students and providing help with their practice to achieve their desired goals.
Above all, the secret to success in yoga teaching is authenticity—a sound personal practice is key.
Step 2: Focus on the Style You Like
You have to enjoy what you teach—a student always benefits from a passionate teacher.
Everyone will remember a class when their teacher was:
- just going through the motions and clearly didn't like the subject or the work
- full of life and enthusiastic about their lessons.
Think back to different yoga lessons and how they were taught. Which ones made the greatest impression on you?
They were probably lessons with good flow and balance, where you felt motivated and energised the class. Now it's your turn to try and help others achieve those feelings.
Becoming a yoga instructor is one thing—filling your classes with students is the next step.
There are a large number of yoga styles. In Australia, some of the most popular ones are:
Which style or styles do you prefer? Your teaching will be better if your sessions concentrate on one or two preferred styles.
If your favourite style is less common, this opens the door to online or private lessons.
Even if you're new to instruction, there is nothing to stop you teaching a more popular style at a studio, and running private sessions, in a less common style, as a freelance teacher.
Step 3: Obtain the Necessary Equipment
It doesn't matter if you're teaching a group class, a private lesson at home, online classes or even producing videos for YouTube—you require the right equipment!
This doesn't mean you need to rush out and spend all your money on every item available. In fact, most forms, such as Vinyasa, only require the bare minimum when it comes to props.
Essential equipment for your home or group class includes:
- yoga mat (for comfort and to allow you to maintain poses)
- cushion (useful for meditation)
- yoga block
- yoga strap (to artificially lengthen parts of the body, like the arms)
- trolley or bag to store and transport equipment
Many students prefer to buy their own basic equipment but may ask for recommendations for the brands you use. This will make it easier for them to replicate your poses and achieve results that are similar.
The expectation in a beginner yoga class, particularly in the first session at least, is that essential equipment will be available for free use.
Step 4: Decide Where to Hold Your Sessions
Many people see yoga as a means to achieve good health, inner peace and harmony. Benefits may include improvements in relaxation, body and soul balance, strength and wellbeing.
Even the best meditation practice will not help meet these goals if class participants are surrounded by the distractions of noise, movement, smell and temperature fluctuations.
It doesn't matter if you are outside, in a studio, or even in a private or online setting—if the ambiance does not work, or lend itself to calm, you might as well go home.
The right location could make or break your sessions. Try a few different spots yourself first—if you like a place, if it works for you, chances are your students will like it too.
Depending on where you live, consider outdoor lessons. Try the beach or your local park.
If you decide to book a space at a community centre, school or studio, it could be a good idea to check who is using the other areas at the same time. Meditation and relaxation might not be so effective if a ukulele group book the room next door.
When you are planning your classes, you should consider even the most minute details—if want to use music for relaxation, is there a power point if your device needs to be charged?
If you are keen on outdoor lessons, do you have options for the inevitable wet-weather day? What about winter? What is the cost of rent?
For a private, one-on-one yoga session, you can be a little more flexible:
- travel to your student's home
- use your own home for the class
- meet at an outside location
In all cases, a space that can be easily and quickly adapted or used exclusively for yoga lessons is ideal. A dedicated space is also essential if your intention is to record videos to upload to YouTube, or for online classes.
Step 5: Ensure You Have Clothing Suitable for Yoga Poses
The right clothing is a must to ensure comfort and to allow free movement into each pose.
Particularly for a beginner, but just as applicable for students at every level, clothing that is too loose or too tight will:
- affect your ability to balance
- reduce or hinder your flexibility
- cause trouble with breathing
Essentially, you will find your body will be unable to flow smoothly between each pose. Ultimately, you will not gain the full physical and emotional rewards.
Yoga wear should fit your form but not restrict your movements.
Ideal clothing choices, for both women and men, include:
- close-fitting singlet top or T-shirt with capped sleeves (loose sleeves will get in the way)
- sports leggings of your preferred length, judo or yoga pants, or shorts (again, baggy shorts may be annoying)
- light, flat shoes (optional but a good idea if you're in a hall)
- if necessary, something to hold your hair back, such as elastics, hair tie, or sweat band
- women may require a supportive sports bra (but not one that restricts your breathing)
Clothing to avoid:
- overly tight clothing as it will restrict your movements, affect your breathing and make you feel uncomfortable
- clothing that is too loose as it may ride down or up in certain poses
- necklines that plunge or clothing that is revealing
- accessories such as watches and other jewellery (earrings, necklaces, bracelets)
Suggest to your beginner students that they wear clothing they feel comfortable in, but that will also allow you to check their form so you can help correct any poor posture.
Step 6: Set the Structure of Your Yoga Teaching Sessions
Each school (Vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram, etc.) will have its own routine with different poses, breathing techniques, and body sequences. How you set up the session itself, however, will usually be the same.
To begin, you will encourage relaxation and breathing exercises to help calm the mind. The goal is for students to step aside from day to day life.
Next is a period of stretching to warm up and prepare the body for the lesson ahead.
The majority of the lesson time is used for the yoga sequences. These vary according to the type of yoga class but in all cases, your focus is on achieving the balance of correct breathing and the flow of movement.
Closing the lesson often involves the instructor taking students through a meditation sequence. This practice is designed to lead to mindfulness and to gain the full benefits of sessions in terms of health, strength, relaxation and wellbeing.
Whether you have been teaching for some time, or are just becoming a yoga instructor, remember to seek feedback from your students at the end of all classes. What did they enjoy? What would they like more of? What areas were not clear or were difficult? Did they feel they benefited and how?
Regularly revisit your pricing. Ensure your session price is affordable but still covers your costs and makes a profit. Don't necessarily feel that cheaper prices will gain more clients — some people equate excessively cheap rates with a lack of credibility.
Step 7: Continue Training and Reviewing Your Practice, Even After Becoming a Yoga Instructor
In a practice that is continually evolving and growing, you cannot afford to stop learning. In fact, the best teacher considers herself to be a lifelong learner.
As an instructor, it is a good idea to regularly book yourself in to attend training classes. Yoga Australia contains information about further training, workshops and videos to enhance your skill set. Consider attending classes put on by other instructors — you can pick up some great teaching ideas this way.
Of course, it also stands to reason that any good teacher is also a regular practitioner of their subject. Your students will expect that you practise yoga every day yourself, and if they think you don't, you instantly lose credibility.
The key word here is regular: 15 minutes every day will see more benefits than two hours once a week.
Once you're ready to begin, how do you find students? Check out your local yoga studios to see if they need a new teacher. Of course, you can also add your profile to Superprof and start searching for students through us.
If you're more of a beginner, or want to learn some new styles, search Superprof for 'classes near me'. You will find oodles of tutors for all styles throughout Australia.