07 Dec One year on from Yoga Teacher Training
So it’s been a year since I returned from Ubud, Bali from my yoga teacher training.
Don’t ask me how 2018 seemed to disappear in a flash but I guess that’s what happens when you start getting older…
I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about the past year and how my expectations were versus my reality. There is 100% a massive expectation when it comes to yoga teaching that everyone is aligned with their mind, body and soul and that there’s no way someone teaching a yoga class could be themselves suffering from internal fears and stresses. They look so calm and collected in front of a class – that’s how they must be all the time, right?? Wrong!
I started teaching in January 2018 and I started suffering massive bouts of anxiety after teaching my classes. I would go silent and work myself into a state before class, and then afterwards burst into tears thinking it was a horrible class (when I’m sure it wasn’t). I placed so much pressure on myself to be this perfect yoga teacher. I felt like a fraud. I was wearing a mask while teaching.
Which leads me to the expectation versus reality.
Teacher training alone is VERY different to the real world. On my training, we were in a little bubble for a month. I knew that wasn’t how the real world worked and that things would be different when I got home. But I left feeling confident that I was capable of teaching classes in my style. I left thinking I would probably pick up jobs quite easily. I live in Melbourne’s North – there are literally dozens of yoga studios within a few blocks of my home – how hard could it be?
Turns out really bloody difficult. I was very lucky to secure a job teaching once a week at a studio, taking beginner classes. I was so excited. My confidence would only grow from here. I had friends who knew I was a teacher now, surely they would all be coming to my classes and I would be hosting full classes every time I rocked up to teach! I had VERY high expectations.
Reality is, if you’re a new yoga teacher, it’s difficult to gain a job right away without knowing someone who’s willing to give you a chance. And then, getting people to your classes is another challenge. I think it would be extremely rare for a new teacher to pick up a job teaching at an esteemed studio that fills out with 30 students every class (if you are reading this and this happened to you, I think that’s amazing – however, this is not something I’ve seen with any yoga teachers I know).
Sometimes I had 10 people in my class. Sometimes I had two. Sometimes I had none. Yes, none. My internal anxiety was feeling with each class as people came and didn’t return. Why didn’t they come back? What did I do wrong? Was it because I made that joke? THEY JUST MUST NOT LIKE ME!
It’s part of life that people will come and go and not every single person on this planet will like you. It’s a difficult pill to swallow that I’m not universally loved by every human I come into contact with… (this is a joke, please laugh) But it does suck when you’re starting out and it feels like you’re struggling to make that connection with your students.
I took a few months off in the middle of the year to go travelling and work on my other career (you know, the one that *actually* pays the bills) and took a break from yoga for a while. No real personal practice and it was three months before I went to a studio class. It was a break I needed (you can read more about that here)
When I returned, I realised it was not about me. Yoga teaching is a job. A wonderful job, but also just a job.
Some people come to yoga because they need to exercise, because they need an hour away from their kids, because they need to just have some alone time with movement and breathing. I genuinely think it is a very small percentage that come to yoga either a) for the teacher or b) because they want some other worldly experience. I think it’s vital that all new yoga teachers remember that.
Over the past few months I’ve picked up a few more classes and met new students who keep coming back. I’ve been rejected from roles (rejection stings on any level!), and had false hope about teaching jobs that have just fizzled out or disappeared.
However one thing remains the same (which has been the same since the beginning of 2017), I WANT to teach yoga. The reason I saved my money, traveled to Bali and locked myself down in Ubud with 20-odd other strangers for a month was because I wanted to learn how to become a teacher. I now get so much joy from teaching, it’s one job that makes me really happy.
I know there will be tough days and great days, but as long as I remember that my focus is sharing fun, encouraging yoga, I know that it is only up from here.
For all my new teachers, I hope this provides some solace that things aren’t easy. But one of the most important things they taught me on my teacher training is that “yoga isn’t easy, and life isn’t easy”. Rise to the challenge, I know we can do it.