Why Acting Like You Own the Joint Will Make You a Better Yoga Teacher

Amy Ippoliti by Amy Ippoliti | January 30th, 2012 | 12 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga

Confident yoga teacher

Have you ever taken a yoga class and the teacher was sheepish, visibly insecure or just not confident? C’mon, you can tell me — did you want to walk out?

I don’t blame you if you did.

When you go to a yoga class, you expect your teacher to be in control and to have your back so you can let go, relax and feel safe as you bend into shapes you’ve never seen before. You don’t go to give your teacher a boost of self-esteem!

In reality, the majority of new yoga teachers naturally lack confidence, and that’s why their classes often have very few students.

When I started teacher training, I had been seriously practicing yoga for 11 years, and I still thought I was too “new” to be a teacher. Talk about lack of confidence!

Of course, who wouldn’t feel meek? Yoga is a 5,000-year-old practice, with long lineages of masters, endless complex teachings and intense practices. It’s intimidating.

But if you want your students to come back week after week, you’ve got to get past the fear and timidity and act as if you “own the place.”

And I don’t mean you have to act like a guru or a head honcho. You’ve just got to make your students feel like they can count on you. It’s really no different from how a parent advocates for their child. A parent might feel far from confident, but she must project to her child a sense of calm, collected, self-assurance, so the child feels that all is well.

We’ve all had moments where we thought we wouldn’t be able to stand up for ourselves, and then, lo and behold, we did. We’ve all had moments where we felt frazzled, unsure or out of our comfort zone, and yet somewhere we found the power to step up and fight for what’s right.

Well guess what: If you want your students to enjoy your yoga class and return for more, you must stand up and advocate for them as the confident teacher you are.

Your students depend on you, give up their valuable time to come to class, and on top of that they pay for your time! You owe it to be present and there for them. If you have to, imagine you are Mr. Iyengar, Shri Pattabhi Jois, Indra Devi or [insert your favorite teacher’s name], and project the presence of a bold and courageous leader!

When you do, your mind, body and heart will start to believe you. Then you really will own your power and charisma as a yoga teacher.

So go on – get out there and act like you own the joint!

Practice yoga with Amy Ippoliti on GaiamTV.com!


  1. Cool, love it Amy!

    Adele | January 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  2. I literally just taught my 2nd class ever yesterday and you are so right. Like they say “fake it till ya make it”
    next week I own the joint!

    tiffany | January 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  3. Thanks Adele! Tiffany – that is so great. Congratulations and keep fakin’ it till you make it. <3

    Amy Ippoliti | January 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  4. I like that approach, Amy. I don’t always pull it off, but — to me — “owning the joint” means softening, getting big and spacious enough to include all of myself, everyone in the class, and the class setting itself. Open to Grace, you might say. If I feel myself getting too contracted and myopic, I try to look around and see what is presenting itself, see something that’s going on besides my own tangled thoughts and use that as an anchor or a lifeline if needed. Make a joke–that’s the best thing. Then I stop taking things too seriously. It softens me and them. I can trust that all I need to do is be myself, that all the study, practice, preparation, and living will come together in the moment, without forcing it. It’s like the iceberg, with most of its mass and volume below the surface–the self that you’re presenting to the class is supported by the hidden Self, by Yoga. You’re in the Ocean, shaping it and being shaped by it. Those little glitches and perceived mistakes — merely ice cubes. On a good day… :)

    Randall | January 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  5. Love this Amy and am sharing it will all the teachers I know and a bunch of peeps going through TT right now. Perfect advice as always. xoxo

    Laurie Myers | January 30th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  6. Thanks for sharing this Amy! In my first few years of teaching, I’ve noticed the way I leave the class feeling… sometimes elated and some times depleted. It all ties in to the confidence that I project and share with my students. REading this article was a GREAT reminder. :)

    Jenna Jeantet | January 31st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  7. Right on Amy. This is a crucial concept for new (and experienced) teachers, especially since so many people are intimidated by yoga when they come to it. In order for someone to trust your instruction as a teacher, they have to feel like you trust yourself. And that shows in the confidence, and the way you hold space, as a teacher.

    Katrina Ariel | January 31st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  8. Great discussion – thanks so much for your comments and ideas – such good stuff here!

    Amy Ippoliti | February 1st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  9. Thanks for the excellent advice, Amy! As a new teacher who struggles with nerves every time I walk into my classes, my new mantra will be “I own this joint!” before each and every class!

    Deborah van Tellingen | February 1st, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  10. I was amazed at how when I went from teaching in someone else’s space to then getting my own small studio space and teaching in my own space where I did really “own the joint” my attendance became more regular and my teaching took off. I never really attributed it to that, but I can see how my confidence did rise when I knew I was truly in complete control. Now I’ve got the internal confidence to teach anywhere, but I wish I had known this little tidbit back in the day!

    Shiva | October 2nd, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  11. you’re the bestest Amy!

    chrissy | October 24th, 2012 | Comment Permalink
  12. Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! So glad this is helping. :)

    Amy Ippoliti | October 29th, 2012 | Comment Permalink

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