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!