Five Ways To Up Your Yoga Teaching Game in 2016

We yoga teachers are growth addicts. We love transformation, both ours and others’. The clean-slate-ness that comes with a brand new year has us tasting the next big breakthrough more than ever. We’re energized and inspired to take action in our teaching, to bring it to the next level.

So how?

Once I know what I want, I have to write down clear next steps, or else I won’t make moves towards it. So, behold: concrete actions you can take this year to grow your teaching like never before.

Regularly video your teaching. *Gulp* Resistance to recording our teaching is common, especially when it’s video. Resistance, though, is just a sign that there’s something here for you to pay attention to. No one knows you better than you. While feedback is a great way for others to point something out to you that you might not see yourself, video is a great way for you to see what others can’t see. By recording your teaching , you can make big shifts more quickly.

Put the 5 Pillars into your teaching. I call this the Pillars Game, and let me tell you, it’s really fun. Inspired by Paige, the game looks like this: Teach five Sun A’s and B’s, and in each one, land one of the Pillars (Drishti, Breath, Foundation, Heat, and Flow). So, for the first Sun A, tell your students where to look. During the next, cue breath. And so on. Each pillar is powerful on its own, and together they create power, ease, and action. Not only does this game help me master an amazing piece of the Baptiste Methodology, but it also gets me out of my head and with my students. And, if you want to see the power of the Pillars in transforming your own practice, then this is for you .

Sign up for a program this year. Whether it’s a day , a weekend, or a weeklong training , get to a program this year. In the last two years–before Baptiste Yoga existed in SF as it does now–being a student at Baptiste programs left me feeling like I grew my yoga practice and connected with a like-minded tribe. When I’d return to my classes, I was re-inspired and had something new to share. Don’t forget to be a student first, with an unquenchable thirst for growth.

Make sure you lead (at least) one program this year. That’s right, you. You don’t need more experience or knowledge than you have right now to create and develop your own 2-hour workshop, or a weekend program, or an intensive teacher training. In fact, you can’t have more experience until you give it to yourself. I didn’t feel “ready” to lead my first workshop or go solo in my first teacher training. Raising my own stakes forced me to play at a higher level and–you guessed it–grow. If you’ve led workshops and teacher trainings before, how can you up the ante? Find a topic you’re passionate about, break it down, and share it with others.

Stop trying so hard. Like, really. When I’m trying too hard in my teaching, it’s usually a sign that I’m feeling “less than” in some way, and my trying too hard (over-talking, people-pleasing, etc.) is a desperate attempt to overcompensate for something that isn’t even true. You don’t need to over-effort to reach people. You connect more truly just as you are. When you stick to Methodology, you give yourself the freedom to be yourself. Allow yourself to be imperfect this year (and every year).

Jessica Kenny is a Director of Teachers at Baptiste Yoga San Francisco . She is also a freelance writer, ginger, and amateur sandwich eater.