Have you ever been to a yoga class and thought, “Wow, I wish I could elevate people just like (insert awesome yoga teacher here).”
Don’t get me wrong, being inspired by these yogis can be extremely uplifting, especially as a yoga teacher. However, it might also cause a “WTF am I doing with my life” moment along with it. These small gaps of doubt are not unusual, even among skilled and professional teachers. For every 50 people who love your class it’ll always be that one person that you think about. You know the one, it’s that student with the frown on their face.
Ok, so before I get into this, what’s up with this saying “you can’t be everyone’s cup of tea”
Let me start with this: I freaking love tea. All types of tea. I prefer organic and certain types of tea at certain times of day but what the hell, I’ll take what I can get. This is kind of like yoga. There are certain styles I’m naturally drawn to or certain teachers but I’m pretty open to new experiences. But here’s the catch: not everyone will have this same open mind. And even those with an open mind will still have a preference. This is the true reason no one can be everyone’s cup of tea. They’ll always be too strong, too soft, too raw, too reserved, too spiritual, or not spiritual enough; at least to the “right” person. So what’s a yoga teacher to do? Here are a few tips to keep you on the right path.
Let go of any ideas about the “perfect class”
It’s hard as a yoga teacher, especially for those just starting out. Even as an established yoga teacher there will never be this idea of the “perfect” class. There will also be students out there who won’t appreciate the incredible ideas and insight being brought to the table. There will likely be a pose, pranayama, or meditation that “should’ve” been included but the vibe just wasn’t right or it didn’t fit the sequence. Don’t worry, it’s ok. Sometimes letting go and accepting that everything happens for a reason is the better route to travel. It’s great to have a class plan but any yoga teacher should be open to throwing those ideas out the window to fit the needs of the class. Being flexible and open is part of what yoga teaches us: that we should except ourselves exactly as we are. The idea of developing what’s known as “santosha” or contentment.
Don’t let negative feedback get you down
A couple of years ago I remember looking at this beautiful piece of art. It was truly love at first sight. When I showed the piece to my husband his reaction was “yea, no thanks.” The painting and what it brought up for me was felt deep in my soul but I knew that it wasn’t for everyone. Teaching yoga has a similar catch. When someone offers negative feedback, be open to what they’re saying without being quick to judge. Take what’s needed from their feedback and let go of what doesn’t work. One of the ways that I’ve grown as a teacher is to open myself up to seeing something from different perspectives. Negative feedback has caused me to reflect on what I truly want to offer. I haven’t taken every piece of advice but it can be very valuable as a teacher.
Stop trying to compare yourself to other people
So those celebrity yogis? Most of them probably started out just like you. And even those who didn’t, they’ve attracted their tribe and they’ve likely built their client list slowly over time. Focus on connecting with students in an authentic way that will naturally draw people in. Which brings me to my last point…
Be yourself, always!
The real question is, “do I feel good about what I’m offering and how I’m serving others?” And if the answer is no, what needs to shift in order to make it a “hell yes.” It seems simple, but people pleasing is a common practice. When there’s strength of character and confidence it’s normal to lose a few students but here’s the good news: they aren’t your tribe. Luckily, putting your energy into being yourself will attract the right crowd. Students can sense the genuine vibes and when a teacher is sharing what they are passionate about.
The next time there’s a negative thought about teaching yoga, consider this: there’s people out there who don’t like ice cream. Or massages. Or kittens. So naturally, no one can be everyone’s cup of tea. Let go of any ideas about developing the “perfect” class and never let feedback get you down. Focus on being yourself and shifting your energy to sharing what you love so you can always shine your brightest.