YTT is a magical time.
From learning about the philosophy and history of yoga, to discovering the benefits of embodied movement and mindfulness, you’re taken on a journey of intense self-discovery and introspection. This journey is shared with a close group of peers, and a feeling of community and connection knits together the inward and outward journeys of finding and teaching your truth as a yoga teacher.
But what happens after YTT officially ends? What’s the best way to navigate feelings of overwhelm and perhaps a sense of loss at having to continue your journey more or less alone?
This blog post walks you through 5 things every new yoga teacher should do to keep their momentum going. It’s important to note that, just as with YTT itself, this next leg of your journey should begin with self-reflection and a focus on identifying what you truly want before trying to get a job at the biggest yoga studio in your city or thinking you need to be the next Instagram influencer. Without a destination in mind, it’s hard to know which direction to go in.
1. Identify Your Core Values
“Integrity is choosing courage over comfort; it’s choosing what is right over what is fun, fast, or easy; and choosing to practice our values rather than simply professing them.”
– Brené Brown
One of the biggest traps new teachers make is saying yes to every opportunity that comes their way. When we say yes to things that aren’t fully aligned with our values, we end up taking on work that feels draining or allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of for the sake of “exposure.”
That’s why I think it’s important to take a break between trainings and really think about what you want. Think about the things that feel really true to you. It’s important to do this initially, before putting too much energy into any particular direction. In order to teach your truth you need to look at yourself and decide where you can be most of value. That begins with figuring out what you value and what you want to bring to people through your unique energy as a yoga teacher.
Danielle Laporte’s Desire Map might be useful as you start digging deeper. In her words, finding your “core desired feelings” allows you to intentionally tap into how you want to feel and what you want to create for others.
Identifying your values is like creating an internal compass. Once tuned, your compass will help you gauge whether or not what you’re doing aligns with what matters most to you. When you need to make a decision, you can check in on your true north and make sure you’re choosing opportunities and partnerships that feel right.
How to identify core values
1. Start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Why do I want to teach?
- What is most important to me?
- How could I apply this?
- What originally prompted me to take YTT or to get involved with yoga at all?
2. Once you answer these questions, check out Brené Brown’s list of values. See if you can narrow your values down to 2-4 words that feel right.
These values will become a filter for anything that enters your world. They will give you permission to say no to something that doesn’t align with the kind of life you want to live and they’ll attract the things you truly want.
Knowing your values is about knowing what’s important to you, not what you think should be important to you (aka people pleasing :P).
Remember: core values can change over time, so you’ll want to revisit them regularly.
2. Trust Your Intuition
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
– Albert Einstein
Once you’ve identified your core values, it will be easier to start listening to your feelings and intuition as opportunities arise. Listening to your intuition can be tricky at first, so it’s important to start small as you build this muscle.
Sometimes we can confuse fear and intuition. Fear can masquerade as not wanting to do something even though it might be exactly what you should do. I like to think of fear as an indicator that you’re approaching the limits of your comfort zone. Of course it’s important to listen to fear when it makes sense to, but you also need to be willing to question where your fear stems from instead of allowing it to paralyze you into inaction.
Intuition, at least for me, comes in the form of a thought. I call it a ‘download’ when I suddenly know intuitively what I should do, even though my rational brain tries to justify all the reasons why not. I’ve trained myself to listen to these downloads, explore their possibilities, and to embrace change.
For example, if you’ve identified that community and accessibility are important to you, you might listen to that voice that urges you to apply to teach that 12-week community yoga program advertised in your local library. Or maybe you’ve always wanted to teach yoga to kids and you wake up one Sunday and remember one of your friends from high school runs a daycare.
Practice listening to your gut feelings and intuition, however they come to you, and I promise it will become easier to navigate the opportunities that come once you’ve identified your core values.
However, if something doesn’t feel right, it’s not. And it’s okay to say no. When it feels like you’re pushing through mud to get something done, try moving on to things that are flowing more easily. Pursuing these opportunities will help you optimize your energy output.
3. Let Your Teaching Be Your Learning
“You teach best what you most need to learn.”
– Richard Bach
Many new teachers get stuck in what I call the “training loop.” A feeling of not being ready or like you don’t have enough knowledge can lead you to thinking you need to take every specialized training there is—from yin yoga to prenatal— before you can begin to teach. While there’s nothing wrong with taking more training, it’s better to be intentional about how much time and money you spend learning—especially after your first YTT.
Similarly, perfectionism and impostor syndrome are two things to watch for as you work your way through the gap between graduating YTT and pursuing a yoga teaching career. You might have a grand vision of what you want to do: the big retreats you’ll lead, the prestigious yoga studios you’ll teach at, the huge numbers of people you’ll be able to help. Keep your big dreams in mind, but don’t let them overwhelm you.
If you’re waiting until you feel absolutely ready before taking action, you’ll stay just where you are. Wanting to put together the perfect class plan, studying every yoga pose and every detail about human anatomy, taking endless workshops and adding yet another book to your yoga reading list delay the areas where I think the most important learning happens.
Bottom line: to be a better teacher you need to teach. You need to show up in front of people to learn the skill of being in front of people.
This is especially hard for perfectionists. But in order to actively learn and grow, you need to give yourself permission to make mistakes. Reading, studying, and taking online courses is obviously an important part of continuing professional development, but at the beginning of your teaching career don’t let it get in the way of actually learning and practicing how to teach. Reading about teaching is not the same as actually teaching.
Think of practicing what you want to learn as you do it. If you want to learn how to guide a meditation practice, you need to guide meditations and build up your confidence and skill level.
You actually have to try stuff and learn what you like and dislike. Iteration is the key to landing the ‘perfect’ opportunity.
4. Develop Your Soft Skills
“It is not the strongest or most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
– Charles Darwin
You need to learn more than how to teach yoga to run a yoga business. And if you want to teach yoga (even part-time), make no mistake, you will be running a business.
So as you do the work of learning as you teach and allowing your values to filter out the best opportunities for you, you should also focus on skills that complement your teaching. They will set you up for success.
Every job has a different set of soft skills. For yoga teachers these include business planning, time management, online communication, networking, marketing, budgeting, accounting, and more. These are skills you need to develop as you go.
You can be the best yoga teacher in the world, but if you don’t invest in these soft skills you will have trouble navigating the business world and making your teaching career sustainable.
As a new yoga teacher, I took lots of notes after each class and built up a collection of class plans. I used Excel spreadsheets to keep track of how many classes I taught, how much money I made, and how many students came to each class—all so that I could learn how to manage my energy/time and money. It also really helped when tax season rolled around or when I needed to negotiate a pay raise or price increase.
5. Take the Next Right Step
“The way through the challenge is to get still and ask yourself, ‘What is the next right move? What is the next right move?’ and then, from that space, make the next right move and the next right move.”
– Oprah Winfrey
Houses are built brick by brick. So too big visions are realized step by step. With so much learning happening and so much self-reflection and inevitable course correction, remember not to get too caught up in your big ideas. By taking baby steps that approximate the vision you have for your life and career you’ll open up so many more possibilities.
For example, I’ve always dreamed of living by the ocean and journaling every morning as I looked out over the water. One day I realized that I could wake up the next morning and sit on my balcony overlooking the river near my house. By looking at what’s right in front of you and taking the next step that feels right you’ll be able to get so much closer to your dreams.
Taking the next right step means integrating the four concepts we covered today: you need to turn inward to figure out what you want, learn to trust your intuition and take small risks in the direction you want to go, and then you’ll be able to use your initial teaching opportunities to learn and grow into your potential. And it all starts by taking the next right step in that direction.
Not sure where to start? Here are some next right steps I’ve put together for you
- Watch the replay of our “5 Things Every Yoga Teacher Needs to Do Post-YTT” webinar here.
- Apply to our 300hr YTT program here.
- Get access to our premium online course “The Next Right Step: 8 Weeks to Clarify Your Vision and Purpose as a Yoga Teacher.” Register
For the best value, join our Teach Your Truth membership, built for yoga teachers who want to expand on their YTT training through ongoing professional development, one-on-one mentorship, and community. Your monthly membership (which is a business expense, by the way!) gets you access to all our quarterly courses as we roll them out, our monthly Purpose + Profit online workshops, and a Business Toolkit where we’ll be adding tons of useful resources that will help you build up your soft skills.
That’s it from me. Let me know where you’re at in your journey in the comments!
Keep living your truth,
Clarify your vision and purpose as a yoga teacher in our premium online course, The Next Right Step. This 8-week course will help you if you're feeling unsure about what to do next on your yoga teaching journey. Whether you're a newly certified or experienced teacher, this program will clarify your values and align them with your vision to become the yoga professional you know you can be! We only open the doors twice a year. Once you’re in, you have access to the course forever.