If you’re thinking about taking the plunge and signing up to do a yoga teacher training course, there will be a multitude of doubts, excuses and fears that arise in your mind. As yogis, we’ve already thought, felt, and experienced them all — so let us metaphorically take your hand and lead you through them and out the other side.
1. I’m Not Good Enough
Real students want real teachers. Think about the teachers that have led you on your yoga path. Are they perfect? Do they have poses that they prefer? Of course they do! They’re human beings, not super-beings.
It’s reassuring when your teacher has a little wobble, or says that she can’t quite do the full pose that day, because it makes you realise that you don’t have to be perfect when practising yoga, you just have to be present.
My best friend has firmly and repeatedly taught me that comparisons are unhealthy and unimportant. There will be plenty of people out there who aren’t as ‘good’ as I am at some of the poses, as well as plenty of people who are a lot better (luckily) because we are all on a learning journey. As it says in the Basic Guidelines for Teachers of Yoga:
“To become a teacher, be a learner first.”
2. I’m Not Flexible Enough
This is similar to the first doubt, but with a crucial difference. Some people have a clear physiological advantage in achieving what looks like the perfect yoga pose. Some people are just born bendy, others have come to yoga from a dance background. Those people can bend in half and do the splits from the moment that they start yoga, but that doesn’t mean that they’re any good at teaching it.
In fact, it can actually mean the opposite. In order to teach a pose, it helps to know how to work to get there, and if you’ve never worked it’s harder to teach it. Instead, we need to be grateful for the poses that we find hard, because they’re the ones that we’ll be able to teach on a deeper level.
3. I’m Too Busy to Teach Yoga
Most of us are super busy already juggling careers, families, social lives and other duties. Yoga is something we love and we’d like to take it further, but the thing is, we just haven’t got time!
The truth of the matter is that you make time for the things that are most important to you. Becoming a yoga teacher will equip you with poise and equanimity for all the other aspects of your life. It will teach you to study yourself and see your strengths and weaknesses.
It may also be that you need the support of those around you to help you make time. They won’t know if you don’t ask, so let them know that you’re thinking about making a commitment to teach yoga, and you might be surprised at how the support of those around you gives you the final boost to go for it.
4. I’m Too Old to Teach Yoga
Age is no barrier to yoga. Take Tao Porchon-Lynch, officially the world’s oldest living yoga teacher, as an example. She’s 97 years old and still teaches regular yoga classes and is also a ballroom dancer. This inspirational woman says the secret to her longevity is her commitment to her yoga practice.
“Yoga is the essence of the dawn of life and it sparkles inwardly.”
Both my current yoga teachers are in their late middle age and the amount of knowledge, wisdom and compassion they have is limitless. Whatever age you start yoga, the benefits for the body and mind are boundless. Instead of seeing your age as a barrier, open your mind to your own potential.
5. I Have to Follow the Yogic ‘Religion’
Yoga is not an exercise fad or a passing phase. It is a one strand of an ancient philosophy with the final aim of enlightenment. There are many cultural traditions that come with yoga but it is up to you, as a person and a teacher, to choose how much or how little of that to incorporate into your teaching and practice.
Some yoga ‘rebels’ such as Tara Stiles have come up with their own strand of yoga which separates the yoga from its past, and that’s fine. It’s also fine to follow the principles of yama and niyama (a code of social and individual morals) and begin your class with a chant to Patanjali, or to play Indian music to recreate the amazing experience you had in an ashram in India. If there are students that don’t like it, they won’t come back, but the ones that do like it will!
6. I Won’t Earn Enough Money
At the beginning you may have to supplement your teaching with another income, but like any small business it’s a seed that, with enough care and attention, can flourish and grow into something bigger. Just as you are embarking on a journey to become a yoga teacher, you will also be embarking on a parallel journey as an entrepreneurial businessperson. If you take it one step at a time, you will build up your business student by student and class by class.
By becoming a yoga teacher you will become part of a community built on a shared passion, and all the yoga teachers I know are very happy to pass on their hard-won knowledge of how to turn their yoga teaching into a successful business. Remember, every teacher offers something different to the yoga community. Believe in yourself and others will too.