Why Should I Become A Yoga Instructor

         

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If you’re asking the question, there’s a good chance the answer includes, “Because you want to.” This isn’t just a snappy answer, but points to the deeper truth that the desire to become an instructor contains its own motivation. Your attraction signals that the process has something to offer you. Is it possible that you just want to satisfy your ego? Sure. This motivation figures in almost every new teacher’s complete set of aspirations, if they’re honest. The key is to find the deeper understanding and surrender, and decide that you’ll satisfy that urge by becoming a student on a new level, learning a craft and allowing it to transform you.

Do you have to want to teach to become an instructor? Absolutely not. Some qualified instructors never teach a single class once out of training. Either they started the process knowing that they were in it for the knowledge, understanding and wisdom or they learned during the process that the yoga teacher gig wasn’t their cup of chai. Your own practice will be utterly transformed by the process of becoming a teacher an this is more than enough reason.

But often trainees do go on to teach in their own right. How do you know if you’re ready? Going through the process will bring you to new insights and self-awareness that will help you discern your own readiness. But there are some general guidelines you can use to guide your reflection on whether you are called to teach.

How long have you practiced? As a general rule, you’ll get the most out of teacher training if you’ve practiced regularly for at least two years. Teacher training will assume some basic knowledge that includes sensory knowledge, how it feels to be in poses and how to build them from the inside out. If you’ve learned the difference between holding a pose and expressing a pose and can feel the lift of your pelvic floor in Downward Facing Dog, you’re on the right track.

Do you have a daily, personal yoga practice? This isn’t essential before beginning, but is something you’ll cultivate during training. Does this sounds exciting or draining to you?

In general, there is no pose or set of poses you must have mastered in order to enter a teacher training program. There’s not usually a pre-requisite such as “must have a five minute Handstand” or “must float in Peacock with ease.” However, know that you cannot teach poses you do not do. Your practice feeds your teaching. Your inner sensory knowledge of the poses, their effects and their building blocks is your stock and trade as a yoga teacher. If your personal practice slips, your students will know it quicker than if you break wind. If you try to teach a pose you read about in last month’s Yoga Journal without mastering it first, count on tripping over yourself, perhaps literally.

That said, it stands to reason that you should have more than a passing familiarity with all standing and most balance and many seated postures and several inversions. You should at least be proficient at Plank, if not more advanced arm balances. Yoga is an experiential and experimental endeavor; if you haven’t felt it with your own body, you are not qualified to teach it. A basic guideline for any new pose, technique, meditation or pranayam is that after practicing it daily for three months you probably know enough to teach it to others.

Is this the right time for you to undertake an intense training program? Is there a teacher training in your area, or will you have to travel? Can you create space in your schedule and your family’s life so this experience isn’t just squeezed in between work and soccer practice? How will this affect the rest of your responsibilities?

Finally, the traditional answer to whether you’re ready to teach is that you are ready to teach when people ask for your teaching. Are you the person that friends ask about aches and pains or how to stretch their mid-back? Do friends ask you about breathing or leading questions about meditation? If you are embodying your practice to the extent that others are noticing its effects on you and wondering if they could have some, too, then your time has probably come.


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