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New Yoga Teacher Checklist: How to Rock Your 1st Yoga Class
Reading Time: 5 minutes 33 seconds
It can be a bit nerve-wracking to be a new fitness instructor. You don’t have the knowledge of an experienced yoga teacher—also called a yogi—which can cause you to doubt your abilities. You may also fear that your yoga teaching methods will be ineffective. This can make it even more difficult to get in front of your first yoga class.
However, just because you’re new to teaching yoga doesn’t mean that you can’t absolutely rock your first session as an instructor. This checklist can help.
How to Use This New Yoga Teacher Checklist
The goal of this new teacher checklist is to better prepare you for yoga instruction. It will help you develop your knowledge in this fitness area. It also helps you fine-tune your teaching style while increasing your comfortability in front of yoga students.
Although it is laid out in a step-by-step format, you may have some of the steps already covered. In that case, simply skip over those steps and move on to the next. You can also change the order of the last few steps if you wish. This checklist is meant to serve as a basic guideline, so feel free to modify it if needed to better suit your situation and needs.
With that, let’s take a look at what you can do to begin to establish yourself as a top yoga teacher, even before ever leading a yoga class.
Step 1: Complete a Yoga Teacher Training Program
In a yoga teacher training course, you learn the ins and outs of effective instruction. You are taught how to break down yoga poses so students use proper form. This is important for injury prevention. A teacher training program also increases your knowledge of yoga in general. You learn more about:
- The yoga philosophy and this practice’s history
- Basic yoga anatomy and which yoga asana (pose) works which body parts
- The difference between each yoga style (Hatha Yoga versus Vinyasa Yoga, for instance)
- How to serve special populations, such as by teaching prenatal yoga
- Tips for becoming a highly regarded instructor
How do you know if you’re ready for yoga teacher training? If you have a passion for this practice and a desire to teach others, that’s all you need to begin yoga training. It is during training that you’ll learn everything else needed to become a yoga teacher.
Step 2: Obtain Your Yoga Certification
The next step is to become a certified yoga instructor. Obtaining your certification shows that you have a basic level of knowledge in yoga instruction. This provides a sense of security to both potential employers and potential students.
Other benefits of earning your certification include learning how to be more efficient as a yoga teacher, gaining a competitive advantage over non-certified instructors, and boosting your credibility. All of these together can make you a more sought-after yoga teacher.
In some cases, the yoga school you attend will offer certification after completing its training course. The ISSA is one. This online yoga teacher training program provides certification upon passing the final exam. Steps one and two are rolled into one, saving you some time and streamlining the teaching process.
Step 3: Put Basic Protections in Place
Once you have a solid foundation for teaching the yoga practice to others, it’s important to put basic protections in place. The first is yoga insurance.
Having liability insurance offers protection if one of your students is injured during a yoga class. Even if their injury is accidental, they can still sue you as their teacher. Your insurance policy can help offset the costs of defending yourself in court. Depending on the policy, it can pay a portion of your legal defense expenses. It can also reduce your portion of a pay-out should a judgment be entered against you.
If you want to work at a yoga studio, liability insurance may be required as a condition of employment. If you run your own yoga business, proper coverage can help you keep your doors open if faced with a legal battle as it absorbs most of the costs.
Another protection to put in place is liability waivers. These are forms that new students sign indicating that they understand and accept the risks associated with the yoga practice. This limits situations where they claim that they didn’t know the risks.
Step 4: Study Another Yoga Teacher (or Two)
It’s often said that if you want to be good at something, study someone who has already mastered that activity. As a new yoga teacher, this involves watching another teacher in action. Find someone who is a highly regarded yoga teacher and pay attention to how they instruct their students.
You might find this yoga teacher in your local community. Maybe there’s a local studio where everyone gushes about a particular instructor. You can also study the methods of an online yoga teacher. This can be incredibly helpful if you also plan to lead an online class.
Watch what the teacher does and doesn’t do when providing instruction. If you’re comfortable, reach out to them and ask for a quick conversation. Talk about the pros and cons of being a yoga teacher. Inquire about their experiences and ask for advice.
Step 5: Practice Teaching Yoga to Friends
How do you gain teaching experience before your first class? “Enroll” your friends as students and lead a mock yoga session. See firsthand how they respond to your method of instruction. Are you able to easily lead them into each asana, or are they having trouble understanding what you want?
Practicing with people you trust is a great way to begin to hone your training style. You begin to learn what methods work and how to best communicate with your students. It also exposes the areas where you may need additional yoga teacher training.
Step 6: Live a Lifestyle Consistent with the Yoga Philosophy
Have you ever gone to a doctor and had them talk to you about living a healthy lifestyle only to see them eating a high-fat fast-food lunch or see them out back smoking a cigarette? When their words don’t match their actions, it’s hard to take their advice seriously. The same is true for a yoga teacher.
The more you live your life consistent with basic yoga philosophies, the easier it becomes for your students to follow your suggestions. They’re more inclined to listen to your recommendations about equipment, such as which yoga mat to buy. They’ll also look to you for guidance when trying to live their own life of peace and enlightening meditation.
Step 7: Join a Yoga Community
Becoming a part of a community that embraces yoga gives you greater insight into what is important to students taking your class. You become a better yoga teacher because you understand those you are teaching. You know how their mind works and how to best reach them.
Some yoga communities include finding a community on the social media platforms you use or building your own fitness community. Spending time with others who have a passion for yoga, even if only on a virtual level, helps stoke your passion even more. And the more you learn about this practice, its philosophies, and benefits, the more you can translate all of these to your future yoga class students.
Ready to start your journey as a new yoga teacher? Enroll in the ISSA’s Yoga Instructor Certification course. This online training program teaches everything from proper yoga posture to how to build a successful yoga business.
Certified Yoga Instructor
Yoga means to "join together". And as a certified yoga instructor, you'll be able to join your passion for health and wellness with a thriving career in the fitness industry.