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Misconceptions about yoga teachers

While I’m not an extremely seasoned yoga teacher, over the past three years, I have been asked a lot of questions about what it’s like being a yoga teacher.  So I’ve put together a list of questions or assumptions that I’m often hit with…

Being a yoga teacher must mean I’m really good at yoga

There really is no such thing as being good at yoga. So if you’re worried about going to a yoga class and not being good enough, you should never ever walk into a yoga studio and feel judged or feel uncomfortable for that reason, so if you do, it might not be the right fit for you. But there really is no such thing as being good at yoga and that is the hill I will die on!

That’s what I love so much about yoga is that we can come into a room and everyone is at their own different levels and everyone has their own different abilities. And as a yoga teacher, we don’t care if you’re good at yoga, whether you’re bad at yoga, whether you think you’re good or bad at yoga, I know I’m just really grateful that you came to the room and that you’re here sharing this space with me!

You’re a yoga teacher? You must be really flexible!

Being flexible doesn’t equate to being a good yogi, or it doesn’t mean you’re any better than anyone else. A lot of yoga teachers that I know might have been former dancers or a gymnast when they’re a bit younger and they’ve slowly transitioned into being a yoga student or a yoga teacher. And while being more flexible in that regard does help to make the physical postures a lot easier, those who have studied yoga will understand that there are eight different limbs of yoga and a physical asana practice is just one of those limbs. So being flexible, being able to touch your toes, being able to transform your body into a pretzel shape is wonderful! But there are seven different other arms of yoga that we practice and that should be incorporated into our lives. So being good at one thing over the other, doesn’t really matter. It’s a matter of finding a balance between all of those limbs of yoga.

Do you teach yoga full time?

And does it pay really well? Yoga teaching does feel like a full-time job sometimes because I might be running around all over the place, teaching a couple of classes a week and it takes a lot more energy than what you might think, or it might take a bit more energy than some of the other jobs I do.

But most yoga teachers that I know still work full time or part-time, or they have other sides gigs that help support their lifestyle. But most yoga teachers you’ll find it’s not their full-time job.

Do you teach yoga for free?

There’s also an assumption that we love yoga so much as a teacher, that we just do it for free!. And I do, I really, really love teaching and facilitating yoga classes and I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it, but also it really frustrates me when it’s brought up or that people are expected to offer their yoga teaching services for free.

My yoga teacher training(s) have cost me lots of money and it costs a lot of money to still be a yoga teacher. I must have insurance, generally a registration with Yoga Alliance or some sort of fitness registration and other costs that come with running your own business. I need to have a first-aid certificate, my CPR certificate, and all of these little things, they all start to add up after a while.

Unfortunately, people can take advantage of new yoga teachers, that we shouldn’t be compensated for teaching because it’s just a good thing that we should do, or that people believe that we should just be offering this free of charge.

I went down the route of being a ‘Karma Yogi” for a yoga studio once and it’s something I regret doing and I’ve learned my lesson now about not working for free. I can’t go to my landlord and say, “Oh, well, I’ve just been working for good vibes this week and positive energy. So can you please take that instead of taking in money for my rent?”

If you are a yoga teacher starting out, please be mindful about where you go and do any karma yoga tasks and what they’re asking of you.

Do I practice every day and are my chakras all aligned?

It’s an assumption that we’re super calm and we just float around on this beautiful yogi cloud. We smell like incense and candles all day and everything’s wonderful. This is a reminder that sometimes we can get stressed and we aren’t perfect beings. But I think it’s important to remember that once I step into a classroom or a step into a studio setting where I’m teaching that that is my moment to be professional as well.

And I love when teachers are honest with their students, so if they have had a bit of a rough day or something has happened and they want to talk about it, then they’re allowed to as well. But knowing that your teacher might have had a really stressful day and sometimes we don’t let it show.

Am I up at 5am every morning meditating and practicing?

I’m not a morning person and I’ll just be completely honest about that. I don’t like getting up early. I’m definitely a night owl and. While the morning is such a beautiful time to practice, it’s not my desired wake up call.

There’s this assumption that it’s something we should do as yoga teachers, that we need to be up and practicing what we preach. But a yoga practice can look so different for everybody. For me, it’s not about getting up at 5am.

I know there are people that they will do that every day and that’s built into their routine. I really enjoy an afternoon practice or something that can wind me down at night. And also knowing that a yoga practice doesn’t have to look like a physical asana practice.

Yoga can look different for a lot of people. Some days my yoga practice will be to be sitting down for five minutes, taking note of my breath and switching off my phone. It doesn’t have to always be about jumping on a yoga mat and going through some sun salutations.

I must be really popular and used to teaching hundreds of students per week!

An assumption is that all yoga teachers are uber-famous and a really big deal. And that is one big piece of fake news. The idea of having popular yoga teachers is something that really irks me and. There’s an expectation that you might be teaching somewhere and you might be teaching hundreds of students a week over a couple of classes, or that every class that you teach will be packed out.

I can safely say that the most people I’ve ever had in one of my yoga classes is 13 people. There have been times when I’ve been teaching no one has turned up. There have been times when I’ve taught yoga and only one person has come, and I learn to try not to take it personally.

If you can find a way to balance all of these things, by doing a job you love and also earning money for it, then you found the perfect combination. Namaste beautiful yogis!