On Teaching

yoga books

It’s been 9 weeks since I finished my yoga teacher training program. It feels like it hasn’t been so long since training on the one hand and on the other, it feels like it has been a really long time. Funny how time can do that to you, huh?

Currently, I’m teaching one class at week at a lovely studio in Prospect Heights and I’m on the sub list at another yoga studio and at a local gym (thanks Carly!). I’m in the midst of the audition process (formal and informal) at a couple of other studios.

The whole process of auditioning and finding teaching opportunities deserves its own post. Suffice it to say, it has involved a lot of pounding the pavement, showing face at studios and serendipity.

I’ve been mulling over in my head what I wanted to share with you about my experience teaching yoga so far. I wanted to create a nicely packaged post for you, full of lessons learned and meaningful insights (and why I think that it’s taken me so long to write this post). But I don’t have a neatly packaged post for you but I also think that’s the nature of teaching – things aren’t always nice and neat.

yoga sequence

Sometimes Jasper likes to help me with my yoga sequences.


This, by far, has been the biggest lesson for me. Things don’t need to be that complicated. Remember when I was worried that I had put together too simple of a class for my teaching final? I’ve been learning that I need to pare things down even more. Once I have a solid structure, I can start to build back up.


There is so much that I could say about each pose, about alignment about yoga philosophy, about everything but I can’t. If I did, we would hold one pose for 15 minutes and I’m pretty sure that would guarantee that no one would come back again. Instead, I need to be really clear – before my class – what I want to share and what I want to try to teach that day.

Something will always go wrong.

From not being able to figure out how to work the radio at the first class I ever taught (so no music) to not being able to dim the lights for savasana to forgetting bits of my sequence to not articulating something clearly (and finding the whole class in a completely different pose than you wanted), something will inevitably go wrong.

I’m learning to not get attached to how I expect the class to go and to let go of those mistakes when they happen. It’s kind of like meditation – observe and let it go. I’ve been surprised at how easy this is for me to do in the middle of teaching. Thank goodness because otherwise I would completely freak out!

It’s not so hard.

Remembering my sequence hasn’t been as hard as I thought or expected it to be. I spent about a month putting together and getting comfortable with the sequence I taught for my teaching final. Now, I’ve put together a class the night before I have to teach. This is not to brag but more to share that I’ve become more comfortable and confident in my ability to put together a class and a sequence.

It’s hard.

But it is still hard to put together a good class. It requires spending time on the mat myself – both playing around at home and taking classes from others who inspire me – and being really clear about what it is that I want to teach. It’s also really hard to teach mixed level classes and providing enough direction and attention to students at both ends of the spectrum.

It’s also hard to silence my inner critic. While I’ve been able to let go of things during class, as soon as class ends, I start obsessing about things that I could improve on. I also obsess about whether or not it was a good class or whether I’m a good teacher.

Honestly, part of the reason that I have put off writing this post is that I’ve been waiting for that feeling – that feeling of OMGthisisamazing or that I nailed it. I haven’t quite had that feeling yet. One the one hand, I have gotten great feedback and it has been a good experience so far, but on the other, my inner critic nags me.


I don’t want this post to sound like a cry for approval or affirmation. I just wanted to share my experience thus far. I know that this is an ongoing process – a journey, right? Finding my voice?

How do you silence your inner critic?



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  1. says

    Auditions – wow. Definitely raises the stress level, huh? Putting together a class to teach, no matter what the subject is, is hard. We have an idea of how we want it to flow but things don’t always happen that way. Plan for hiccups is more like it. I know the first ever client I trained or class I taught was a disaster. They ruined my perfect plan by asking too many questions and got me sidetracked! 😉 It definitely is a journey. You’ll find your groove.
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..Elliptical RunningMy Profile

  2. says

    Thank you for writing this with such honesty. I will have a new appreciation for my yoga teacher as a result and more importantly although I am not planning to teach yoga I hope to begin running workshops and your experience starting something so new and how you have made mistakes and it is okay you are learning is actually inspiring me to get out there and have a go. I keep waiting thinking I need more information, more experience and yet I have all I need, what I need now is to take action., congratulations on such a courageously successful beginning to yore yoga career,
    Karen Main recently posted..Australia, my fabulous sunburnt countryMy Profile

  3. says

    Whether it’s teaching a class or running a race, there’s no such thing as a perfect day or a perfectly executed plan. But the twists and turns and unexpected bumps along the way make us stronger. And often make for the best stories! Thanks for sharing your journey with us. As for that inner critic, the older I become, the easier it is to tell that bitch to shut up!

  4. says

    It sounds like you are doing amazing. I knew before you started teaching that you were meant to to this. That darn inner critic! Sometimes it can suck the life out of us, yes? When I catch “him” in the act, I silence mine with a meditation. I visualize someone very dark as the inner critic and then God or my inner light comes and pushes “him” out. It’s tough though, you’re teaching something very vulnerable with not very much wiggle room–you can’t really fake it! It’s like being a new kid at school, it will get easier with time. Have I told you recently how amazing you are? LOVE you!

  5. says

    Honestly, I’m not so good at silencing my inner critic. She’s strong and she’s such a regular around here that sometimes I don’t even notice her presence.

    I’ve waited for that nailed it feeling so many times … but life isn’t really made up of those feelings, is it? I mean, they’re rare. The feeling of having completed something – often a little bit imperfectly – is much more common. But almost always, when I look back, that feeling was more than enough, even though it didn’t seem so at the time.
    Shana Norris recently posted..10 Weekly Goals.My Profile

  6. says

    Thanks for this post! Having just finished weekend two of teacher training it’s strange to think of myself being at the point that you are at. I guess my first thoughts are….how will I ever be able to do that?! We all have inner critics pretty much daily (it’s actually a huge part of what we learned this weekend). We learned it’s about recognizing those and learning different ways to turn away from them and move in a different direction. You seem like an absolutely fabulous teacher! If I ever find myself in Brooklyn I will attend!
    Kelsey at The Primal Yogi recently posted..21 Day Sugar Detox Update and Why I Had One Cheat MealMy Profile

  7. says

    I think that teaching (of any sort) takes time and experience to ever feel comfortable. I remember my first few years as a teacher having more experienced teachers saying that no matter how well your plan and prepare, flexibility is the number key!!!
    I’m glad that you have some places to teach and some other things in the works!!!
    Kim recently posted..The Law of Diminishing ReturnsMy Profile

  8. says

    Teaching any class can seem like a daunting task, but when you have someone like you with experience and LOVE for yoga, it can only be an enjoyable experience!

  9. says

    Yes, yes, agree 1000% with all of this! Simplify, and it doesn’t all have to be said, choose your words, let the rest speak for itself, and silence your inner critic. this job is one of the hardest, I think, in terms of self esteem and affirmation because by nature, you open yourself up to criticism no matter what, and you learn from feedback, and from doing, doing, doing. I love seeing your progression and evolution and imagine how different you’ll feel in 6 months? a year? two? It’s crazy awesome :)
    Jolene recently posted..After a crazy week, it’s just okay.My Profile

  10. says

    Auditioning for classes. Yeah. That is nerve wrecking. And you are in a really competitive market in Bklyn. I was hired to sub a class down here sight unseen because there aren’t as many teachers and the place really needed someone! Teaching WILL get easier. At a certain point, you think less about the sequencing of postures. It becomes a fluent second language for you. And then and maybe only then, you will have the space in your brain for other things, like making light hearted conversation with your students while teaching them. It will become less scripted. It will be awesome. It already IS awesome! xo
    Ilene recently posted..You Gotta Be: Ask Away Friday with Tamara Camera BlogMy Profile

  11. says

    First, congrats on your budding future as a yoga instructor!

    And second — I totally get it. As a teacher, myself (not of yoga, but of ever-so-judgmental adolescents and young adults), I can feel for the “Things will always go wrong” observation and like how you’re acknowledging it and letting it go. As for the obsession over how things could have gone better or been improved, that’s okay–that’s IMPORTANT, because that’s how we DO get better. Not ever class will be perfect, but as long as you learned something from it to apply next time, then it was a golden lesson.

    Great post, thank you for sharing these insights on teaching yoga! The lessons here apply to many domains.
    Dare You To recently posted..Debunk the Debunkers and listen for yourselfMy Profile

  12. says

    My inner critic never shuts up! Just today one of the teachers told me my son didn’t eat his lunch and I took it as some sort of personal failure on my part b/c I give him the same thing to eat almost everyday. Luckily I was able to stop myself and just see it for what it was – he wasn’t hungry for lunch today. That’s it. I love that you wrote to “edit” and pare things down. I absolutely need to do that with my class instruction AND life in general.
    Allie recently posted..The Rundown: Hell WeekMy Profile

  13. says

    I love that you jumped right into teaching right away! I did the same with spin- even though I knew things wouldn’t be “perfect” I found it really helpful to push myself right into it and just learn as I went… and there were definitely those days with music or sound issues, or other problems… but it works out, and as long as you stay cheerful and confident, no one really cares. :)
    Laura @ Mommy Run Fast recently posted..Deconstructing our CravingsMy Profile

  14. says

    Oh, you worked in plenty of great insights. I like how so many of them reflect yoga and meditation itself. Plus, how could you go wrong with Jasper’s choreography! Yes on the edit. I have a yoga DVD I can’t stand because the instructor does not stop chattering for one second. It’s probably more annoying on a DVD because I’d have to hear the same thing over and over if I ever did it again. In live classes, as long as the instructor is talking at a conversational pace and takes her own deep breaths I don’t mind almost-constant guidance.
    Coco (@Got2Run4Me) recently posted..The Value Of Paying For Fitness ClassesMy Profile

  15. says

    As someone who just started teaching indoor cycling, I can relate to so much of this post. [In fact, I just had a major microphone/sound system malfunction today!] As a perfectionist, it took me awhile to accept that…I probably won’t ever teach the perfect class. I’ll probably always wish I’d made some calls differently, or changed how I described something, or wish I’d spent more time on some element of position. Especially in the beginning, some parts are going to be rough around the edges, and frankly, very imperfect.

    So I’ve been reminding myself to prepare as best I can, relax, connect with my students and – most importantly – remember that having a relaxed and fun instructor is MUCH more important than one missed position change. Most students will leave with an overall impression of the class, NOT a memory of one specific thing I (or you!) did right, or wrong.

    So keep up the good work – and remember that, even for an instructor, it’s still called a “practice”!
    Holly @ Run With Holly recently posted..Good Mornings for a Wednesday (January 22, 2014)My Profile

  16. says

    Why do I have this feeling that you’ll never really quite feel like you perfectly nailed it? Maybe a little bit of who you are and a bit of what yoga is..a continuum. But I do know this: any teacher who puts as much thought and planning into it as you do has got to be good. People can tell when an instructor has bought in the way you have. I think you’ll have a big following wherever you go before you realize it!
    misszippy recently posted..Columbia Mall shootingMy Profile

  17. says

    Reading your post brought back a flood of memories from my first days of teaching high school English. I can remember the same anxiety and uncertainty: how would I fill the class period? And there were those rough moments where the kids didn’t get the assignment, or there was silence for long periods of time or I didn’t fill the entire class period. And then sometimes it just comes, you surprise yourself at you own creativity and ability to go with the flow. Honestly, I think that the teacher in you, you’re desire to become a yoga teacher came from a place of wanting to teach and so at some level what you need to get past that inner critic is inside you and has been all along. Navigating the early stages can be a learning experience, but it will really hone your skills and you’ll continue to surprise yourself over and over.
    Sarah @runfargirl recently posted..What’s your approach to racing?My Profile

  18. says

    The inner critic is so hard to silence! But, as teachers (I teach choir), I think it’s important to be gentle with ourselves as we are with our students. So, I try and pump myself up sometimes. I’ve been focusing on confidence a lot lately, because I think it’s something I, and many , lack. Yoga helps me with confidence. Love reading your reflections on yoga teaching!
    Emily recently posted..mtn mama: warm fuzziesMy Profile


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