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What to Expect When Teaching Your First Yoga Class

Reading Time: 5 minutes 15 seconds


DATE: 2022-01-27

Teaching yoga is a great way to help people receive the many benefits of this practice. It places you in a position where you can actively help others decrease stress while improving their fitness. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health adds that yoga has also been found to relieve pain, manage chronic disease, and potentially aid in quitting smoking.

That said, even if you are proficient in yoga, standing in front of your very first class can be more than a little stressful. One way to relieve this anxiety is to have a better idea of what your first day as an instructor will be like. This can vary depending on whether you’re teaching at a yoga studio or fitness center, or if you will be leading an online class.

What to Expect When Teaching Your First Yoga Class in Person

When teaching in person, you may be experiencing increased anxiety because you will be face to face with your students. If you’ve not spent a lot of time in that specific yoga studio, these feelings can be even more intense.

If your first experience teaching yoga involves leading a group class, you can expect students to enter the room at staggered times. This is beneficial because it enables you to engage with each person individually. You can introduce yourself, learn why they joined, and start to get acquainted. This pre-class small talk can begin to ease your nerves.

If you are providing private sessions as a yoga teacher, the first session generally begins with learning more about your student. Are they a beginner or more of an experienced yogi? Have they ever taken a yoga class? If so, what type of yoga was it? Hot yoga? Power yoga? Restorative yoga? The more you know about your student’s exposure to this practice, the better you can tailor your session to them.

It’s also helpful to check in with your students regularly during the first class. Give them the opportunity to ask questions as they arise. Assess how they’re feeling about a particular posture or yoga sequence. Their feedback will help you when teaching future classes. It will also begin to shape your teaching style.

At the end of the class, a common closing phrase is namaste. In Sanskrit, this means “I bow to you” and is a sign of respect. It tells your class that you appreciate them. Typically, they will say namaste back, reinforcing the teacher-student connection.

When You Are New to Teaching Online Yoga Classes

The nice thing about teaching online is that you get to lead the class from familiar surroundings. You can do it from the comfort of your home or, if you’ve been teaching in person for years, from your studio. Either way, there is some level of comfort in being in an environment that isn’t new to you.

During your first online class, you may experience some technical challenges. This could involve having problems with your audio or video. That’s why it is helpful to do a test run. Ask a friend to go online with you. Make sure you can hear and see them and they can hear and see you. Work the bugs out before leading your first class.

On a larger scale, it’s possible that the online site you use could develop issues as the time for your first class approaches. Should this occur, one option is to reschedule. Another is to use a different online platform. For instance, ask your students to join you on social media. Go on Facebook Live and do your first class from there. This may not be ideal, but it can get you by until your original platform is available again.

If you will be teaching a private yoga class online, get with your students beforehand to learn more about them. When you understand why they are interested in yoga and their goals, it’s like you already know them. It gives you something to talk about as you work to build your relationship.

How to Overcome Performance Anxiety as a New Yoga Instructor

The thing to remember is, just as you are new to teaching yoga, some of your students are new to this practice as well. As a beginner, they likely have a bit of anxiety. Sometimes it helps to recognize that they are probably just as nervous as you. This alone can ease some of your stage fright.

You can also reduce your anxiety by becoming intimately familiar with your yoga sequence. The more you practice, the more your performance anxiety will reduce. Your training will automatically take over in that first session. This will help you seamlessly transition from the Sun Salutation to your next poses seamlessly. You operate partially on muscle memory, reducing the odds that you’ll forget the next step.

Also, instead of developing preconceived notions of what your first class will be like as a yoga teacher, keep an open mind. Let go of your concerns and quit imagining the worst. Take a deep breath and allow yourself to enjoy the process, whatever it looks like.

If you’re still feeling a bit nervous, reach out to a fellow yogi and share your concerns. Tell them about your performance anxiety and ask for advice. The yoga community is great for calming your fears. You get to learn from the other person’s experience, saving you from making the same mistakes.

Boost Your Confidence with Yoga Teacher Training

It can be especially rewarding when you see a yoga beginner finally master a new pose or asana with proper alignment. Or when a long-term yoga student tells you that they have reached a higher level of mindfulness by developing a regular yoga practice. This boosts your self-confidence as a yoga teacher. You can also increase your confidence by completing yoga teacher training.

Teacher training provides the skills needed to take your students on their yoga journey. It helps you better understand the yoga philosophy and you learn a variety of helpful teaching tips. These include how to break down each yoga pose to effectively explain it to a new student and which breathing technique to use to create the right effect (Kumbhaka for a still mind or Kapalabhati Pranayama, which is more energizing).

When choosing a teacher training program, select one that works with your lifestyle. For instance, online training programs enable you to complete your classwork when it is most convenient for you. If you work full-time, you can do your studies before or after work. If you have a family to take care of, you’re able to do your homework when the kids are watching a movie or when tucked in bed for the night.

Another factor to consider before choosing a teacher training program is whether it provides yoga certification. Many yoga studios and fitness facilities require that their instructors be certified. Completing a course that doesn’t offer this designation means that you wouldn’t be qualified to apply.

If you are building your own yoga business, being certified gives you credibility. It tells potential students that you have the education and skills necessary to teach them the yoga practice. It also sets you apart from other teachers who lack this certification.

Some teacher training programs offer students a few “extras” that can help you increase your success as a yoga instructor. As an example, the ISSA provides its students a free professional website and unlimited educational support. You also have access to the online student forum where you can begin to create friendships with other future yoga teachers.

Ready to boost your confidence with yoga teacher training? Check out the ISSA’s Yoga Instructor certification program. This course will prepare you for your very first yoga class, and every class thereafter. Even if you are a beginner yourself, you will soon feel incredibly comfortable with this age-old practice.

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