You may be thinking of finally getting certified to teach yoga or maybe you’ve been through a training but feel less than confident to teach actual people in an actual class. There are many things need to be covered in a 200 hour yoga teacher training program which can make it difficult for the teachers to cover all the bases or for the students to absorb everything they need to really be prepared.
In my in-person and online yoga teacher training programs, I focus heavily on the three things I think are the most important in any yoga teacher training program. These three items make up my main pillars of my programs.
- Alignment and Cueing
- Planning and Sequencing
You may think that confidence is just something that will happen, that there’s no way you could know if a training will make you feel confident or not. I’m here to tell you that I’ve spoken with many graduates of in-person as well as online yoga teacher training programs and the main thing they lack is confidence. I’m not sure if it’s because the lead instructor is seen as the Guru and can’t be bothered with questions or what the exact reason is, but I do hear often that trainees either didn’t feel like they COULD ask questions or they didn’t get the opportunity to ask them.
I make sure in all of my trainings that the trainees know that they can ask any questions they may have. NO question is stupid. Too many times I see newer teachers ask questions in Facebook groups only to have more experienced teachers bash them for not knowing the answer. Really yoga teachers? Come on, that’s NOT being very yogic.
Everyone has the right to ask questions and we all learn different things in our yoga teacher training programs. If someone acts like your questions are stupid, remember that’s on them, NOT you. You are bringing up an insecurity in them. Try not to let that bother you. Find a mentor who you can ask questions without being brought down or made to feel less than.
I also teach my trainees that everyone has a unique voice and gift to share with the world. Yes, there are a lot of yoga teachers nowadays, BUT there is ONLY one YOU. You have been through unique life experiences that have made you who you are today. You have a perspective that needs to be shared with the world because only YOU can share it. You don’t need to know everything there is to know about yoga. You only have to be able to teach an inspiring and safe class. From there, you can weave in teachings based on the knowledge you have accumulated over your life. You can teach them how to take their practice off the mat and into their every day life.
Never let anyone make you feel inferior.
Alignment & Cueing
People ask me how I can properly teach alignment through an online training. I actually really like this question because I believe that having to teach alignment online is actually a lot harder than doing it in-person. If you can effectively communicate how a student should move their body with only your words, you will have an excellent advantage. Once you develop this skill, you will be able to weave in the teachings you want to incorporate and focus on many other things during your class.
It’s much easier to just be able to go over to someone and move their body into the right position but if you can do it with your words, you’ll not only help that one student “get” it, you’ll help all the others in class as well. It also helps the student learn it on a much deeper level when they can adjust their body on their own, without you manipulating their body into position. You want to train the students to have that mind-body connection and learn how to move their body according to what you say.
It’s also a lot more well-known now that more people might suffer from trauma than we realize. It might be in our best interest to not physically touch all of our students, so the better you can communicate with your words, the less chance you have of bringing up those traumatic thoughts in a student. Even if you ask students before a class if you can adjust them (which I highly encourage doing before each new class), they might not know that it will affect them.
The other reason you might not want to physically touch all of your students is that when people do yoga, a lot of emotions and energy are released. The more you touch someone, the more likely you are to absorb the energy they are releasing. This is especially harmful if you are teaching many classes during the week. Make sure to always ground and protect your energy before teaching a class and “release” any energy that’s not your own after class. I also teach a segment on this in my trainings, make sure yours does too!
Planning & Sequencing
This one seems like a no-brainer to me but you’d be surprised how many new teachers don’t know how to plan or sequence a class! Some trainings only give sequence templates for the trainees to follow while some follow a set sequence so they don’t really learn how to sequence for any other demographic, pinnacle pose or energetic effect.
Now I’m not saying this is wrong, it’s just a different way of doing things. I want to make sure my graduates know how to plan and sequence a class in a variety of ways. In my mind, yoga is not a one-size-fits-all approach and I want to attract trainees that want to teach yoga to the individual. Not every teacher is blessed to live in a big city and can find students to fit their “level 3 hot yoga class”.
I train teachers to organize their classes in a few ways which may include:
- pinnacle pose (all poses lead up to this pose then cool down after)
- energetic effect (do you want to instill an emotion like inspiration or maybe you just want to relax or energize your class?)
- theme (this could be working on poses for a certain chakra or poses that remind you of a particular Goddess or moon phase, the options are endless!)
In all, when you are looking to find a yoga teacher training, make sure you find one that covers all the bases that are important to you. That might include different things than what I’ve mentioned here and that’s OK! Just like I don’t want to teach trainees to teach yoga as a one-size-fits-all practice, the same holds true for yoga teacher training programs. Feel it out, talk with the main teacher and see how much 1:1 time you get with them so you know you’ll be able to ask all your questions and feel confident in what you are learning and practicing.
Good luck and namaste,
Crystal Gray is an E-RYT 500 yoga teacher, teaching since 2005. She’s owned a successful yoga studio as well as a 20-acre organic vegetable farm with her husband. Crystal is a Yoga Club tribe leader and online entrepreneur, creating the Yoga Goddess Academy and her online yoga teacher training. She leads in-person trainings as well as retreats locally and abroad.