I used to think that I couldn’t teach yoga because I lived in London There were already so many amazing instructors to learn from – and I was awe-struck. They all seemed to have so much training, so much experience – more than my little lifetime, that’s for sure. And it wasn’t just the teachers – it seemed like everyone and their pet chihuahua had done a teacher training.
I remember going to my first yoga audition – and the studio told me that I should re-train with them because I had timed my breath cues differently. It almost crushed me – I didn’t like being “wrong,” I didn’t like the feeling of “not quite there yet”. But more importantly – I really didn’t like the thought of having to mould my teaching to fit someone else’s version.
The thing with yoga, breathwork, and any healing modality is: it’s personal. You can’t leave your heart out of the room. You bring it in with you, with all its sensitive, tender empathy, and you share it with those inside.
But the other thing about yoga is that just like no two hearts are exactly alike: no two practices are exactly alike. No two teachers are exactly alike – and that’s exactly how it should be.
So instead of choosing to retrain, I walked away. And the very next yoga studio I auditioned for became the one that was the catalyst for so many opportunities. Because, you see: it fit my vibe. I didn’t have to go around changing my vibe to fit theirs. I played my music, I brought in my Palo Santo, I explained asana in my own way. And those that vibed with me, stayed.
Whether you want to teach in person, online, or a mix of both, please believe: there is a space for you. There are real-life humans that need your touch; there are corners of the internet that need your name on it.
No matter how many times you think something has been done, trust me: the way you do it will still be special. Because no one is exactly like you – no one has exactly your blend of gifts and talents and viewpoints and life experiences. And just like me –you will find those that see your heart. You’ll find those that see a bit of themselves in you. You’ll find those that are magnetised to you, because they fit your vibe.
There is space enough for you.
A lot of yoga teachers ask me how to be more creative.
“Where do you get your themes from?”
“Where should I go to learn new transitions?”
“How do I make my class/workshop/meditation more exciting?”
My loves. Inspiration is everywhere. There is meaning in everything – every tree you wander by, every conversation you have, every hectic journey you take. You just have to be interested enough to look.
Look in the unusual places. Listen to non-yoga podcasts about inspiring humans. Watch TED stories about real-life survivors. Go to a workout class and take inspiration from those that train with weights. Visit a florist and ask them about the story behind the flowers. Experiment with your own practice. There are no wrongs, only different versions of right.
Most of all – go with what feels good to you. When something resonates with your being, you express it in a way that draws others in – whether it’s a specific hip stretch or an over-arching theme for a course. We learn so much from others, yes, but there is so much wisdom already in your bones, in your body, that can be poured out to those that need it.
And last but not least:
If there was one thing I wish I knew when I was starting out, it would HANDS DOWN be this: Your greatest strengths and your deepest wisdom lie in the areas where you struggled the most.
What made you start doing yoga? What made you really fall in love with it? What part of the yoga journey do you hold most dear? Those parts are your superpowers. Those battle scars that have become pieces of art – those are your USPs. Lean into them.
I fell in love with yoga because it allowed me to feel without “performing.” I fell in love with it because it teased out years of blockages that my poor body was holding on to. The tightness of being misunderstood. The tension of being shy and insecure. The restriction that came with always worrying about being left behind.
The asanas, the mindfulness, the community, the breathing – oh my god THE BREATHING – they all tied together to allow me to let myself be me, just a little more than I did before.
When I teach, this is the part that I teach from. The part that remembers the shy girl in the corner, all racing hearts and knotted insides, just wanting to breathe easy. The part that wants each person to remember that they, too, are worthy of breathing easy.
When I teach, I remember the struggles I’ve faced along the way. I remember when I first learnt headstand. I remember when I crashed out of my first pincha. I remember the time I re-tore my hamstring, or the (only) time I had to walk out of yoga class.
And when you teach, my loves, please remember: you are there to make others remember how to breathe easy. You are there to remind others that we are all share the same struggles. We might drink our coffee different, and our ex-boyfriends may have different names – but our souls feel the same things.
Your struggles are your superpowers. Own them.
Photo by Steph Marques