Yesterday afternoon I taught my first 75-minute foundations yoga class to complete my 250-hour yoga teacher training program at MokShana Yoga Center. I only made a few minor cuing mistakes and ended up coming up short on time (which meant students got an extra long savasana!), but overall Ida (the studio owner) said it was a great class and said I seemed very comfortable teaching. Yay!
I’m so glad my nerves didn’t show, because my stomach was in knots for weeks about teaching a full class. Having experience as a personal trainer definitely helped with cuing and watching the alignment of students, but I only have experience teaching one-on-one, not in a group. I also have an intense fear of public speaking, so doing this program and teaching my first class was way out of my comfort zone. But that’s a good thing. The more I challenge myself to do things I’m afraid of, the less scary they will become.
Here are a few of the things I did to prepare to teach my first yoga class:
- Practice, practice, practice. I prepared my routine near the end of September and practiced it several times a week each week right up until my first class. Not only to perfect the poses, but also to practice speaking the cues out loud to make sure they made sense. At first I had everything written out in my notes, then slowly cut back to where I only had a few trickier cues written down and mostly just had the name of the poses. This helped to keep my notes concise, making them easier to look at if I needed to.
- Start the class with a meditation. After a brief intro, I had the students lie down on their backs and led them through a guided breath awareness meditation for the first 5 minutes of the class. This was a great way to ease into speaking, as no one was looking at me and I could read right off the paper in front of me.
- Have a few extra poses planned or note poses you can ditch in case you’re short or long on time. Okay, so I didn’t do this but I highly suggest you do! I ended up adding in a few at the end which were seated when students were already lying down, so I had to have them come back to seated. If I had planned better I would have added them in earlier before students were on their backs to make the transition smoother.
- Remind yourself that no one is there to be critical of you. In yoga teacher training one of our instructors said it is natural to be nervous about teaching yoga because you care and you want to do a good job. I had to remind myself of this often in the weeks leading up to teaching my first class. The students are there to learn, and will be more worried and critical about their own asanas than they are of you. They understand you’re new and want you to succeed. It’s probably the least scary place you could practice public speaking!
The morning before teaching I saw this post from Brené Brown on Instagram and thought it was so fitting:
View this post on Instagram
“Choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid at the exact same time.”
That’s a great way to sum up my first yoga teacher training experience.
As for what’s next, I’ll be spending the next few weekends with Matt painting our spare bedrooms and turning one into an at-home yoga studio so I can teach family and friends (and to have a nice space for myself to practice in, since it’s the only activity I can do right now). Then hopefully in December I can teach a few more community classes at MokShana and perhaps in some other spaces in the new year.
To read about my experience of the yoga teacher training program at MokShana, check out the links below:
- Run. Lift. Yoga teacher training!
- Yoga Teacher Training Week 1: Initial thoughts and learnings
- How I’m switching up my daily routine to live a more sattvic life
- Yoga Teacher Training update: Handstands and the five koshas
- The two best styles of yoga for endurance athletes
- Yoga Teacher Training Update: 3 weeks to go!
- Why everyone should take yoga teacher training
- How to design a yoga class around a theme