Teaching Yoga: Are You Ready?

Whether you’ve practiced for years or just found yoga recently, there are a few things to think about before you start teaching yoga. Many devoted yogis may tell you that determining when you’re ready to teach is a personal decision, an ethical matter as important as any other you may face in your teaching career.  So how do you know when it’s time to lead?

According to Yoga Journal’s article, there are three ways to know you’re ready to teach yoga.

Teaching Yoga: Practice, Practice, Practice

Even if we know the poses and the technique, we really don’t become powerful teachers until we understand the body and the mind and how they integrate, and that just takes years and experience. It means that making the practice a genuine part of your life is the key. How much time this takes will vary.

Teaching Yoga: Stay Connected to a Tradition

Sharon Gannon, cofounder of the Jivamukti Yoga School in New York, points to guiding principles passed down from yoga master T. Krishnamacharya (who taught both B.K.S. Iyengar and K. Pattabhi Jois). According to Gannon, Krishnamacharya identified three qualities that make a good teacher: connection to a lineage, dedication to the yoga sadhana, and compassion for students. In other words, Gannon adds, they should be “blessed by their own teacher, practice every day themselves, and sincerely like other people.” (Yoga Journal)

The history of yoga is one of evolution, but each new branch of the practice has benefited from earlier teachings.

yoga teacher adjusting a student during a yoga classes
Yoga teacher adjusting a student during a yoga classes

Teaching Yoga: Practice Karma Yoga

It’s good to start out with the goal of offering your teaching as a service. You have to pay your dues, perhaps volunteering, teaching friends and family. Then it becomes really obvious to the individual whether they are ready, and whether they have enough vidya, or knowledge.

According to Yoga Journal, teachers emphasize that a new teacher is well served by starting out with a patient attitude and by hanging on to other work for a while so that the yoga teaching isn’t pressured by the urgent need to make a living. This also will give you more time to begin to understand how to prevent injuries in the classroom, which can be a particular concern for students of brand-new yoga teachers.

A yoga teacher looking over her sequence getting ready to teach a yoga class
A yoga teacher looking over her sequence getting ready to teach a yoga class

Ultimately, keeping your own practice as a primary part of your life is essential. A lot of people start teaching and don’t have as much time to practice, but you must make the time available. When you’re sharing something that you’re experiencing in the present moment, or maybe experienced a few days earlier in your practice, it’s much more vibrant.

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