You Are the Only YOU! Authenticity is the Key to Inspiration
Why are you teaching yoga?
Chances are you did not get into it for the introductory salary. Chances are you got into teaching yoga because you had something to say and you wanted to make a difference in someone’s life.
And for a while, things go great. You wake up inspired and excited to teach. Everything is shiny and new. Your students are thrilled and your classes are full.
And then one day, you hit the wall. You can’t think of a single new or innovative idea, and the thought of teaching “The Dog” one more time makes you want to bark out loud, or at least whine.
Like a love affair, teaching yoga is good until the day when it is not.
But do not worry, because there is a new book to help you find inspiration and use it in your teaching to keep your classes fresh and your students motivated.
Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga by Michelle Berman Marchildon, is a powerful new book for yoga instructors. It shows teachers in step by step detail how to make their class not just exercise, but an experience students will not want to miss. And it all begins with you.
So I ask again, why are you teaching yoga?
Most of us who became yoga teachers spent 200 hours or more in Yoga Teacher Training programs that spent time discussing philosophy, asana, anatomy, pranayama and a myriad of other concepts required by Yoga Alliance.
Most YTTs however, did not spend that much time discussing you, and why you wanted to teach. So even if you have been teaching for 20 years, I invite you to step back and think for a moment about what is the main reason for why you teach.
I believe that every teacher has a unique message they want to communicate in a class, and a unique reason why they teach yoga. For example, I am an older teacher who feels a little diminished in my strength and endurance. Therefore, my main inspiration is to help others re-discover their potential through yoga as I did. I call this, “Finding more on the mat.”
One of my teachers often comes to a theme that embraces the idea of self-acceptance. Another friend of mine talks about self-love, especially when you have done something ridiculous, again.
The first step to finding inspiration that feels authentic and unique is to identify your main message. I call this a “Yoga Brand.”
So, before everyone goes crazy that the last thing we need is another brand of yoga like Bikram or Ashtanga, that’s not what I mean. I want you to find the main motivating factor for why you teach, and boil it down to a few words. This way you are clear in your intention.
Some “Yoga Brands” or Reasons to Teach Yoga:
- I want to help students heal their bodies.
- I want to help students find more peace in their lives.
- I want to show students they are strong and capable.
Once you figure out exactly why you teach yoga, then it is easier to find the themes that are more authentic to your path.
I frequently hear from teachers that when they theme their class they feel inauthentic, or even like a pretentious yoga phony. Often this is because while the theme they picked is a good one, it just isn’t one that feels right for them.
For example, the worst class I ever taught was on love. OMG! I was talking about how we should all be love and feel love and I think I even played a song about love. I wanted to hang myself.
Obviously, “love” is a great theme for yoga. It just wasn’t great for me. I am better at teaching about strength and potential. Once you know your “yoga brand,” you won’t make the same mistake when you choose your themes.
This is one of the exercises outlined in Theme Weaver that have a single point of focus: you. If you re-discover your path, you will find it easier to follow. Like a labyrinth, if you stay with it, the path will lead you to the inspiration within. Your classes will fresh and inspired, and take less and less time to prepare.
So I ask again, why are you teaching yoga? The answer will lead the way to more: more authenticity, more inspiration and more motivation for you, and your students.
Reprinted with permission from Teachasana. March 2013.
Michelle Berman Marchildon is the Yogi Muse. She is an award-winning journalist and the author of Finding More on the Mat: How I Grew Better, Wiser and Stronger through Yoga, and Theme Weaver: Connect the Power of Inspiration to Teaching Yoga. She is a Columnist for Elephant Journal and a Contributing Editor for Mantra and Origin Magazines. She is an E-RYT 500 with Yoga Alliance and teaches Hatha Yoga in Denver, Co. You can take her classes on www.yogadownload.com, or www.yogasteya.com.