I remember the very San Francisco hill I was climbing when I called to sign up for my first yoga teacher training. No part of me planned to become a yoga teacher. I had a full-time job I loved and a career path in marketing that excited me. I was traveling often (as I was on that day) and I simply hoped to deepen my yoga practice: to go beyond what drop-in classes offered and to free myself from the constant need for a studio.
I struggled not to sound too winded as I explained this to the patient teacher on the other end of the phone.
What Happened Next
I didn’t leave my job. I didn’t even start teaching nights or weekends. On paper it would be another two and a half years before I took a “real” step in the direction of becoming a yoga teacher.
Looking back the years that followed were filled with baby steps fueled by the momentum of my teacher training. These baby steps — some yoga reading, some informal teaching with friends, some exploration of mediation — were what felt right. They weren’t a grand gesture or radical life change, but they were slightly different than the steps I was taking before.
I've spoken with so many yoga teachers who have had a similar experience, and so many new graduates who are afraid about life after training. My perspective now is that steps are steps, whether they are big or small.
Today I’d like to share some of the baby steps that have supported me in my post-training experiences. Whether you're hitting the ground running as a teacher or simply letting your new knowledge sink in, here are some practical tips for keeping the yoga alive when training is over.
Engage with your new community of yoga friends. This community will be so important as your interest in yoga grows (and it will only grow!)
- Support your fellow graduates on Social Media as they start their teaching endeavors. Give lots of likes. This will keep you inspired and they will return the favor when it’s your time, too.
- Reach out to your teachers periodically. It doesn’t have to be specifically pertaining to yoga. Teachers have good life advice, good reading suggestions, good travel tips.
- Seek out MeetUps, festivals, workshops and other yoga-related events in your area or on your travels. Start to commit some of your resources to these kinds of activities. They will keep you fulfilled.
Keep Up Your Practice
- Find a studio if you’re rooted in one location. Do what you have to do to attend classes and become a part of the community. If membership is out of your budget ask about their Karma Yoga program and trade a few hours of work for classes. New studios especially are looking to foster community and can be a great home.
- Yogaglo is an amazing resource for teachers. At only $18/month with a free trial, you have access to some of the best teachers in the world. It’s like an IV of knowledge and new content for you as a teacher.
- YouTube is a great resource for home practice as well! Great teachers like Adriene Mishler and Tara Stiles offer amazing practice and tips.
We’re told that the things that scare us the most are the things we need to do most. In the world of teaching yoga there are some creative and minimally-frightening ways of committing to this.
- There is endless opportunity internationally. You can trade teaching for room and board at some of the most magnificent locations around the world. If a life (or at least several months) of travel excites you teaching yoga is an amazing way to do it. Sites like Yogatrade and Workaway are making this possible.
- Practice on your classmates. If you live near each other that’s perfect. If not, plan Skype sessions so you can practice teaching out loud.
- Just say yes. If someone — anyone — says they want a lesson, schedule it on the spot. Try not to find any excuse.
Build Your Online Presence
Most people will tell you it’s important to at least have some sort of online presence.
- Follow like-minded accounts on Facebook, Instagram, even Pinterest. Some personal faves: Mantramagazine, iamhertribe, Seane Corn, yoga_girl
- Squarespace is amazing for building a beautiful website as simply as humanly possible. For free platforms, Wix, Weebly and Wordpress are great options.
- Make a “Yoga” page for yourself on Facebook. Or simply use your personal page as an outlet for sharing your interest and offerings in yoga.
Build Your Offline Presence
- Get some cheap and cute business cards using Vistaprint or Moo. You never know when you’ll meet a new studio owner or a beginner seeking laid-back private lessons — and an unexpected opportunity might feel exactly right.
If there’s one thing that will keep you connected to your yogic path it’s reading. Stay up to date on research in yoga, stay rooted in history with the ancient texts and have fun with the endless reading in between.
- Teach.yoga is a great resource specifically created for teachers.
- Yoga Alliance publishes interesting research. Browse their stuff from time to time.
- For the physical books, try to organize a swap with your classmates. Chances are most people have a few books they’re done with and this can keep variety plentiful and costs low.
- Come back to your training manual. Not immediately, but keep it somewhere safe and revisit it when the time feels right. It took two years for me to open my first manual again but I was SO grateful I’d kept it.
Most importantly trust that whatever you’re doing is right. If I’d started to teach two years ago I think I would’ve turned away quickly and perhaps forever. But last August I lost my job overnight and it suddenly felt really right to look up the hill I’d started climbing that day in SF.
And to my surprise I learned I’d never stopped climbing.