4 Tips To Bring You Back When You're Teaching Yoga

I’ve taught some pretty awesome yoga classes.

And, I’ve taught some really bogus ones. Where I walked out with the experience of being “off.”

Lately, I’ve been in an inquiry on what exactly that is.

It’s disconnection.

In the best classes I teach, I leave feeling grounded and connected to the people who were with me. I shared cues and aspects of myself that were real and true and essential for the moment. I experience ease and joy.

In the bogus classes, I try too hard. I attempt to reinvent the wheel (literally) and dazzle the masses. In those classes, I’m totally in my head. 

We can’t be in our heads and with others at the same time. Period.

If you feel disconnected while you’re teaching, great news! You’re in your head. And because we know that, we can do something about it. 

If your head is like most heads, it can get loud in there. Also like most people, what seems true in our heads simply isn’t the case out here, with the rest of us. Behold: little tricks of the trade to get you back out here, where everything is just fine and connection is yours.

Touch someone. You’re a yoga teacher and that means you can touch people without it being weird (unless, of course, you’re being weird. Don’t do that.) Our physical touch is a profound tool to get us back to reality. Like putting your hand on a hot stove. That’ll jerk you back to the present. Except this is much more pleasant and powerful. 

Stop talking. I’ve learned that if I’m talking a lot in a class, it’s good feedback I’m in my head and trying too hard. If I’m in my head/trying too hard, I’m not being with the people who showed up. I’m not seeing them because I’m thinking of the next cool thing to say. Now I know to be quiet and listen. When I hear other people breathe, or see a possibility in someone’s pose, the single thing will land more powerfully than the 40 things I just crammed into one pose.

Stand in one place and teach. There’s a correlation between my trying too hard/feeling disconnected and my walking around the room a mile a minute. When I notice myself moving throughout the space without any sort of purpose, I make myself stand in one place and teach. Close to people. It can be uncomfortable. On the other side of the initial discomfort, though, is freedom. Soon, what I’m saying has an intention based on my looking at my students. Because I’m more connected to the floor, the students experience more connection from me.

Remember it’s not about you. I can’t tell you how freeing this is. The classes that feel the most heavy/disconnected are the ones where I’m making it all about me. I’m trying to “wow” people so that they’ll tell their great-grandmothers about what an amazing yoga teacher I am. When I say to myself, “It’s not about you right now,” my shoulders drop, my breath flows and I’m up to something bigger.

Jessica Kenny is a writer who teaches yoga or yoga teacher who writes, depending on the day. For a long time she did neither and was not very happy. She is a Certified Baptiste Teacher in San Francisco and contributes articles to many online and print publications. You can keep up with Jess and her ginger self on her website and Instagram.

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Great article! Very comforting to know we all go through these things as instructors:) The moments where I have felt the most connection to others where, in fact, when I allowed myself to be vulnerable and be seen. Thank you for sharing:)

Kate Stiffler on May 08, 2015

Thank you for this! This really resonates with me, and is so helpful.

Shannon Leahy Rolston on April 24, 2015

This is just perfect. Had this conversation with a fellow yoga teacher after a class I taught where I felt “off”. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Melanie Giggs on April 24, 2015

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