7 Ways to Become a Better Yoga Teacher

I was called to teach yoga by a desire to share the benefits that I experienced during the course of developing and deepening my own practice.

If you’re a yoga teacher, I’m betting that your primary motivation for teaching is the same as mine. Almost every teacher I know arrives at their Yoga Teacher Training program with a desire to serve others by sharing the gift of yoga.

The science of yoga is described in the Bhagavad-gita as ‘the king of education, the most secret of all secrets, and the purest knowledge’. Krishna – the speaker of the Gita – makes it clear that his motivation for delivering these teachings is compassion, that he speaks of this divine science out of love, and that even though he is equal to all, no one is more loved by him than one who delivers these teachings to others.

Teaching is an art that you never stop learning. Here are seven ways you can take your experience of yoga to a higher level and elevate your unique value as a teacher:

  1. Spend some time in an intentional spiritual community: there’s no substitute for living with people who are fully immersed in a spiritual lifestyle, even if only for a short time. Visiting an ashram, participating in the spiritual practices of the community, and seeing first-hand how members of a community practically apply the values of yoga to daily life can be both inspirational and transformative.
  2. Take an advanced yoga anatomy course: go beyond the basics to learn more about the physical body of muscles, bones, and tendons and how it’s connected to the metaphysical body of energy, thoughts, and feelings. By expanding your knowledge of how each part of your body works in relationship to all the other parts, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of why you feel what you feel in your practice and understand more about why the same pose looks radically different from one practitioner to another.
  3. Learn Pranayama from an expert: Pranayama is a specialized science that very few yoga teachers really know how to practice much less teach. The liberation of the life force through control of the breath is the fourth limb of the yoga system and yet we tend to skip past Pranayama and jump straight to meditation. By learning how to practice and teach Pranayama from someone who really knows the science, you can add a missing link to your own practice and really differentiate yourself as a teacher.
  4. Learn how to practice ‘yogic’ meditation: Most of the popular meditation practices taught in yoga studios are actually Buddhist practices that have been integrated into modern, westernized yoga. And while ‘mindfulness’ and other Buddhist forms of meditation have their value, ‘yogic’ meditation, as described in the Yoga-sutras, is quite different in both its techniques and objectives. Again, very few yoga teachers practice or teach the object-oriented form of meditation recommended in the original yoga tradition. Developing a yogic meditation practice will open up a whole new dimension of yoga for you to share with your students.
  5. Svadhyaya – guided study of yoga wisdom texts: The first few times I tried to read yoga wisdom texts like the Bhagavad-gita I was reading on my own and I felt lost. My inability to access them left me feeling frustrated. It wasn’t until I studied them systematically, under the guidance of experienced teachers, that I was able to wrap my head around them and apply their teachings in my own life. The fact that I was studying in a group setting also made a big difference. The best way to deepen your understanding of yoga philosophy is to find a community of like-minded people who are studying with a qualified teacher who can connect the ancient wisdom texts of yoga to life in the modern world.
  6. Learn about Ayurveda: It’s not called ‘the sister-science of yoga’ for nothing: the principles of Ayurveda have a direct correspondence to the principles of yoga. Learn how to practice yoga in harmony with your natural bodily constitution, with the cycles of the sun and the moon, and with the seasons. For practitioners who want to experience the health benefits of yoga beyond what they get from their physical practice, Ayurveda provides healing and rejuvenating body-care regimens, food-based practices, and meditations that round out a complete lifestyle of yoga.
  7. Enhance your communication skills: Getting a concept out of your head and into someone else’s is an art form. When it comes to effectively sharing your personal realizations, the ability to clearly articulate your thoughts is just as important as speaking directly from your heart. Learning techniques of effective communication will help you build confidence in your own voice, amplify the authenticity of your message, and empower you to deliver transformative experiences to your students.
  8. If you want to expand your horizons in any of these seven ways you’re probably asking yourself, ‘how can I find teachers and a community that will enable me to deepen my understanding, extend the scope of my practice, and acquire these kinds of teaching skills?’

    The answer: The Bhagavata-sevaya School of Yoga Advanced Yoga Training  program at Sky House Yoga in Silver Spring, MD. It includes a complete 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training curriculum lead by yours truly and my friend and colleague Ashley Litecky Elenbaas.

    The 300-Hour Yoga Teacher Training program also includes a weeklong retreat to New Vrindaban, an intentional spiritual community in the beautiful hills of West Virginia. It also includes an Ayurveda module lead by expert Ayurvedic practitioner Hannah Leatherbury and modules that provide in-depth training in teaching methodology, yogic meditation, and yoga philosophy.

    The program also features an Advanced Physical and Energetic Anatomy course with Machelle Lee and a Pranayama course with Braja Kishori. These two courses, taught by two amazingly qualified teachers, can each be taken as stand-alone courses for Continuing Education without having to commit to the entire 300-Hour YTT program.

    If you would like more information about our Advanced Yoga Training program, come to our Information Session at Sky House Yoga on Saturday, June 16 at 1:00 PM. You can CLICK HERE for a complete description of the Advanced Yoga Studied Program.

    And if you have any specific questions, write to me at hari@hari-kirtana.com.

    The world needs the gift of yoga. You have a special talent for sharing yoga. The Bhagavata-sevaya School of Yoga Faculty is eager to help you develop your talent and offer your gifts to the world.

Hari-kirtana

I’m a yoga teacher based in Washington, D.C. and the author of In Search of the Highest Truth: Adventures in Yoga Philosophy. I lead Yoga Teacher Training courses, workshops, and yoga classes. I also serve yoga practitioners as a private instructor and assist yoga teachers in their professional development.

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