Home For Teachers Should you only teach yoga poses you can do?

Should you only teach yoga poses you can do?

by Arundhati Baitmangalkar
yoga poses

Have you ever wondered, as a yoga teacher should you only teach what yoga poses you can do well? What if you’re a brand new yoga teacher & you’re still developing your asana skillset? You’re relatively new to the world of teaching yoga but already feeling the pressure to be more? How do you get there?

I was asked this question in our recent Mindful Yoga Teachers club meeting. This is undoubtedly a very important question that comes into a new yoga teacher’s mind at some point or the other. I’ve got you covered with this one…

The short answer is Yes! You should only teach what you can do. Because yoga is an experiential practice. A teacher can lead the students only as far as she has gone herself. Anything beyond that would not be based on Santosa (contentment) & Satya (truth). This could lead to harm & more confusion in the yoga world.

It’s natural to feel insecure as a new yoga teacher. Learn to embrace it. Follow this by taking deliberate actions that will help address this. The solutions are rather straightforward. It’s just that you’re probably being unrealistic about the timelines & discipline required to get to where you want to go.

Check why you feel this way? Could it be because you’re looking at people who’ve done this for a very long time & trying to measure up to them? Know that your start will never look like someone’s middle.

This very dilemma is a great place to experience our yamas & niyamas in play. Here’s how all 10 yamas & niyamas can be applied to this problem.

Applying Yamas To Yoga Poses…

  1. Ahimsa (practicing kindness): By only teaching that which you have experience & skill for, you keep yourself & others safe in practice. This also teaches you to be kind to our body & to accept what it is in the present moment.
  2. Satya (truthfulness): Being truthful includes acknowledging where & when you feel stuck. Being okay with what it is & more importantly what isn’t.
  3. Asteya (nonstealing): Not stealing from yourself in the present moment. Not stealing from your student’s journey.
  4. Brahmacharya (moderation): Learning to practice moderation in all things including ambition & practice
  5. Aparigraha (non-hoarding): Not holding on to students who were never meant to be yours in the first place

Applying Niyamas To Yoga Poses…

  1. Saucha (purity) : Purity of thought starts with purity or clarity of intention. Why do you wish to teach what you can’t do?
  2. Santosha (contentment) : Learn to be content on the ups & downs of the journey.
  3. Tapas (discipline) : Develop a strong tapas for your yoga. When you have tapas nothing can stand in your way.
  4. Svadhyaya (self-study) : Remember you’re a student first in yoga. And always. Study. Do the work. Practice. Keep your eyes on the yoga – all the time.
  5. Ishvara Pranidhana (dedication to Ishvara) : Try to practice de-attachment from the fruits of your actions.

7 things to start today to get better at teaching yoga poses…

Understand that this experience is common for new yoga teachers. You’re not alone. This question comes up repeatedly for new yoga teachers.

Strive to get better at your yoga first. Before trying to teach it. This goes beyond just mastering asana. When you can live your yoga even in the hardest moments of teaching, you will experience more santosha.

There is a real gap in the teaching world. We’re too quick to go from teacher training to teaching others. We need to be students of the practice first. Do this & watch the game change for you.

Practice consistently. That’s the only way you will get to where you want to go. Be realistic about timelines & where you are.

Teach an audience that’s appropriate for your skill level. That will help build confidence & help deal with imposter syndrome.

For your own practice, step out of your comfort zone & build your practice with a teacher who’s invested in growing your asana practice. This will mean challenging yourself on a regular basis.

Take the long view. If you invest consistently, where will you be 6 months from now? Yogis took a lifetime and more to practice their yoga. Living yoga masters know there are no shortcuts. We just get tangled in a messy web of social media & the internet, don’t we?

If you enjoy conversations like these & have questions of your own, join my monthly mentorship community called the Mindful Yoga Teachers club.

Also, check out this episode from my weekly podcast. Best 10 mindset shifts for yoga teachers. Will truly change how you think as a yoga teacher.

If you enjoy this type of content, let me know on Instagram. It makes my day when you message me & share your story.

You may also like