If you are currently enrolled, or looking to enroll in a yoga teacher training, you will have to be prepared to put your skills of teaching to the test through a proper audition. Interviews to be a yoga teacher are conducted much differently than your typical job interviews, and generally they include a proper ‘audition’ as well. I have seen this done in several formats. In some cases, you will be asked to teach a full class anywhere from 30-50 minutes to a room full of volunteer students. In other cases, you will be asked to ‘pretend’ that you have a class full of students, and to do a five to ten-minute demo in front of your prospective employer. In either case, it is important that you do your best, and bring all your knowledge and understanding of yoga (both on and off the mat) with you. Keep in mind these following ten tips when preparing for a yoga audition.
Professionalism is key
This will show the potential employer that you take your job as a yoga teacher seriously. Show up early to your audition well-groomed with clean clothes, hair typed up, and your own yoga mat in tote. Keep your towel, watch, and props all well arranged around your mat. Make sure your bag, shoes, and phone are stored and out of the way. Start and end on time. Clean up after your audition is over. It’s the small things that will make your audition successful. One’s discipline is a big indicator of what kind of yoga teacher they will be. I once interviewed a candidate who canceled her class 15 minutes after she was supposed to show up claiming to be sick, and then showed up 20 minutes late to her next class with me. Any guesses if she got hired?
Be well-prepared to teach
There is only one thing you need to do during the entire yoga audition – that is to teach well. This means coming prepared with an effective yoga sequence, having considered what levels you will be catering to, the demographics, prop options, pace, and possible modification. Be ready to accommodate small changes in your sequence on the spot if needed. Do not teach the sequence blindly. Be a confident and knowledgeable yoga teacher. Teach to who is in front of you to the best of your ability. Offer gentle modifications for lower back, sensitive knees, weak wrists, etc. even if nobody has them. This will show the potential employer that you know how to accommodate multiple levels of a yoga practice. It is good to get your left and right sides correct when you teach – remember, you mirror them. This way, you demonstrate a sense of control and preparedness over class.
Keep it simple
This is where a lot of auditions go wrong. Oftentimes, yoga teachers try to do the most advanced poses with complicated sequence transitions. While being creative is good. try not to complicate it too much. An audition or yoga class is successful when the students have a successful experience as a result of the teacher’s ability to sequence. They should make progress from one pose to the next with control. Be appropriately challenged but not over-challenged. A good yoga teacher knows when to push and when to draw students back.
Be prepared with modifications & variations
This is one of the most important things to showcase during an audition – the ability to handle multiple levels of yoga practitioners across all ages. This requires you to be knowledgeable about providing variations, progressions, and regressions to yoga practitioners as needed. And even more importantly, able to accommodate simple needs such as weak knees, lower back discomfort, menstruation, wrist issues etc. in a group yoga class. Always offer these in an audition. Show strong, clean, well-positioned demos for everything. People want to see you walk the talk too. It shows them that you have knowledge and empathy – a killer combo for a yoga teacher.
Instruct poses vs. naming them
This is crucial, and my personal pet peeve. You want to get into the habit of telling people how to do the pose. This requires detailed instructions on how to get in and out of each pose, and most importantly how to do the pose correctly. What actions to do. Where to balance the weight. How to be less effortful and gain maximum benefit. Work smarter not harder. Most often yoga teachers only name the poses and expect people to position themselves correctly in those yoga poses with bare minimal focus and attention to detail. Demonstrating alignment and knowledge of a safe practice will not only gain you extra brownie points with your potential employer but also ensure that you do your job as a yoga teacher to the best of your ability.
Maintain good eye contact with the group you are teaching – no matter how nervous you are. The key is not to read into their expressions too much. Just keep the focus on you teaching their bodies and try not to shed energy on what they are thinking or if they are enjoying the class. You can ask them later. Keep yourself on track. Eye contact will show the potential employer your confidence, your command over the class, your ability to notice people in class, and more.
Interact and build rapport – dialogue vs monolog
You want to ‘talk’ intentionally to your class and not just go on with a set dialogue. At certain points, ask if the class is doing okay, if they understood a certain alignment point, or if they can see what you are demonstrating in a certain pose. When you practice to ‘interact’ with your class as opposed to just a monolog, your class will feel more connected to the practice and you as a yoga instructor. All your students are a great resource and this will help develop a network too.
Walk around the class. Leave your mat and position yourself well
Sticking to your mat and practicing the whole class shouts ’newbie’ instructor. Plan sections that need demonstrations and your visual body cueing, and leave certain sections to walk around the class. It’s not about you, it’s about them. And this will bring you into the student’s space. They will feel noticed, and you can even offer corrections when you move around. This way you are able to watch and correct more than just being stuck on your own mat doing your own practice. You are taking on the role of a yoga teacher and not a student at that point. People are looking to you to lead.
Open and close class well
The open and close of a class sets the tone for an audition. Start the class well. Maybe with a few minutes of silent sitting with breath focus, or in any way that your yoga tradition has initiated you. This will help students settle down, disconnect from all other distractions that they came from, allow late comers to find a spot, and set a certain discipline for every class. Similarly, do not let a class just end after a pose. Finish off with Shavasana (corpse pose) and a brief silent sitting or OM afterward. This will complete the circle of experience from start to finish of class – ensuring that participants leave feeling refreshed and relaxed.
Feedback and Goodbyes
Invite people to come talk to you after class. Ask for feedback about the class, and be open to suggestions. Be willing to help or go over any pose additionally, if they would like. Sign off with your name again and thank them for their time with a big smile. Stay seated on your mat as they leave and clean up after your class.
Again, whether you are preparing for your yoga teacher training, are a new yoga teacher seeking work, or are a more seasoned yoga teacher who frequently self-evaluates your teaching style, then these 10 tips can help you get where you’re trying to do. Please share your comments below – let us know if these tips have worked for you, if you have any questions, or if something we haven’t mentioned helped you have a successful audition as well!