Valuable addition: Why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher

Journaling is all the rage. The many variations of therapeutic writing are suitable for almost any situation in life. Numerous journals that you only have to fill out are now on the market to help you get started.

Journaling has also arrived in yoga classes. By means of specific reflection questions, the effect of the individual asanas can be additionally deepened, whereby the students profit even more from the practice.

As a teacher, you should definitely consider making journaling a regular part of your own routine, and not just offer it in your classes. Why? Here are my top 3 reasons why you should use journaling as a yoga teacher.

Personal growth as a teacher through journaling

Of course, in addition to teaching, you shouldn’t neglect your own practice. By documenting it-whether you’re practicing on your own or taking a class-and noting what felt good and what didn’t, you’ll get a better sense of what might be good for your group, which asanas are appropriate for which subject, and more. But you shouldn’t just write about your yoga practice, you should also engage with yourself through journaling.

With regular journaling you get to know yourself better: As a person and as a teacher. You learn who you are, what your values are, what you want to stand for, what you are comfortable with and what you are not. The better you are in touch with yourself, the more authentic you can be in the classroom.

Refined cuing

As you get into the habit of keeping track of your own practice, you will notice that your announcements become more accurate over time. Why? You are much more intensely aware of how individual exercises feel and what they can trigger on a mental level; what parts of the body are involved, where attention should be directed. If you incorporate this knowledge into your announcements, they will become much more understandable and vivid for your participants.

More creative lessons

Have you ever wondered where to get fresh ideas for new lessons? One way is to keep an “inspiration journal”. In it, you record everything that could be inspiring for your classes: creative sequences and transitions that you picked up as a participant; asanas that you didn’t know yet; announcements that were particularly on point; but not only things from yoga class, but also from everyday life. Quotes, experiences, and interesting conversations might give you topics for new lessons.

No matter what strikes your fancy or how banal it may seem to you – write it down! Feel free to add comments to the entry about why you think you could use this point in your teaching.

So, both personally and professionally, you can benefit greatly from journaling. Just grab a blank notebook and pen and get started right away!

Have fun writing, teaching, and growing!

Man sieht die Knie und Hände einer Frau, die gerade eine Yogamatte ausrollt

Yoga Teacher Training – My Experience

“Yoga teacher training – yes or no?”

I never thought I would ask myself this question. It had taken me too long to get into yoga as a student to imagine taking on the role of teacher.

Me? In front of a class? NEVER!

But once I was hooked, it happened pretty quickly.

Before  – the decision making

Barely a year had passed since I started practicing yoga regularly when my then-teacher mentioned in class that a new training was starting soon. “Doesn’t concern me,” I thought. “What am I going to teach people, I haven’t been at it that long myself.”

But then, the following week, my teacher came right up to me after class and approached me about the training. She said she had a feeling about me that this path might be right for me, and that she was sure I would make a good teacher – and no, she doesn’t get a commission for recruiting “yoga trainees” 😊

Hmm… could I do this?

With a warm tea in hand, we talked for a long time that evening. About the training, her own experiences, my concerns about it, but also about us in general. In the process, we realized: we have a lot in common. When she signed up for the training, she was in a very similar life situation as I was at that moment, and for her it was the best decision ever.

She also shook my conviction that I was too inexperienced when she told me that another participant in our course had already signed up – you don’t need any profound prior knowledge or practice, it’s enough if you have the desire and interest to delve deeper into the subject matter: the philosophy, the mythology, the anatomy, the correct alignment of the asanas and much more.

In any case, I felt like it, and so I took an information brochure home with me, which I read from cover to cover over the next few days.

Ok… maybe I can see myself in this role after all 🙂

It quickly became clear to me: this is actually exactly the right thing for me. But to be honest, I also had some jitters. Two years is quite a commitment, not to mention the cost and work involved. Training once a week, plus several intensive weekends a year… that intimidated me a bit.

However, I also saw the great experiences I would have; the things I would learn; the interesting people I would meet.

Over Christmas, at home with my parents, I talked to them both about it. My mother advised me to wait another year to solidify my own practice. I distinctly remember my gut feeling at that moment: no. It’s now or never.

I didn’t know it yet, but two years later, that feeling would prove to be absolutely right. But more on that later 😊

Back in Frankfurt, I registered – and got the very last place. Shortly after that, the training started. That’s how much time I had taken to make the decision!

The first experiences

Just in time for the very first evening of training, I fell ill. With a sore throat, a headacheand fatigue, I dragged myself to the studio because I did not want to miss the first evening under any circumstances.

Despite my condition, the special atmosphere totally resonated with me. The magic of the getting-to-know-each-other ritual was clearly tangible, and I felt: this is the place for me. Although I still had concerns about my personal practice level, I became calmer during that first evening.

All set for yoga practice….
…and for theory

Shortly thereafter – still a little under the weather – I went to visit my parents and went to yoga in their area. When I returned, my mother (who was rather skeptical about the training) was completely blown away. She was like, “You suddenly look so much healthier than you did before class – if that’s what yoga does for you, I’m all for it!”

Once the initial sickness was over, I really got into it. I felt right at home with the flow of the training evening – meditation/pranayama, theory, asanas – the content, and especially the people. An environment that had previously unsettled me quickly became my comfort zone.

Ashram and studio weekends

This positive impression was confirmed on the first weekend we spent together in the yoga studio. On two days, we dove extra deep into exciting topics such as Hindu mythology and got to know each other even better.

But the real adventure were the intensive weekends in the ashram. For many of us it was the first time in such a place, so we were not yet used to the long days, the early rising, the eating rhythm and the extended kirtan singing in the evening. Especially the latter was strange for many of us at first and then quickly became something to look forward to.

Breaks on Ashram weekends – yoga in nature!

Eleven girls in one room – can that work? It sure can!

We had a lot of fun in the room, which we were allotted to on every training weekend, with only one exception. In the evenings, before going to bed, we exchanged reading material; during breaks, we sat together in the bunk beds with our newfound friends, chatted, snacked and sometimes even drank a “smuggled-in” coffee.

This very special mix of “class trip meets spiritual retreat” very quickly became something I began to look forward to. Yes, it was also exhausting, but at the same time I refueled my energy every time.

My ritual after a weekend of multiple hours of doing yoga

Exams

Those who know me know: exams are absolute hell for me. In the yoga teacher training it was no different. It already started at the first teaching rehearsal: Palpitations, sweaty palms, stage fright, fear of failure.

That’s what my weekends used to look like – and I didn’t hate it!

Fortunately, however, it turned out quite quickly that I felt very comfortable in the role of teacher and the nervousness went away as soon as I sat in front of my group. So the practical exam was much less nerve-wracking for me than the theoretical one. Teaching a lesson whose exact sequence was precisely prescribed – which I didn’t have to plan from scratch – and which I had practiced in this form umpteen times before, that wasn’t too scary.

The theory, on the other hand, scared the living hell out of me, and that was despite the fact that I was studying diligently. I wrote flashcards with which I repeated the material on the bus and train, but I still worried that I wasn’t prepared well enough. The idea of taking a written exam for three hours made my stomach hurt – my lucky hamster, who has accompanied me during exams and job interviews since my school days, was of course essential and was by my side during both practice and theory..

All my flashcards and my lucky charm hamster – good to go!

At least the studying was fun because the topics were super interesting. I dealt with anatomy, mythology, philosophy, teaching didactics, yoga for special target groups and much more. Even today I am amazed at how much knowledge I accumulated during this time. And actually, I was able to reproduce it, because I passed the exam 😊

Afterwards

I completed the exams in January 2020 – shortly after that, Corona hit.

I DID IT!

Soon after, I realized that the inner voice that had advised me to rather not wait another year had been absolutely right. Corona spread, due to which I came into short-time work and suddenly had a lot of time. So I had enough free time to do the Ayurveda correspondence course, which I had already flirted with during my training; and to do further training in therapeutic writing. Then, as soon as it got warmer outside and it was possible to teach outdoors, I was soon teaching four classes a week at a senior citizens’ residence in Frankfurt.

None of this would have been possible if I had joined a year later. And not only that: the training itself would have been completely different – with fewer face-to-face and more online evenings, without the intensive practice of corrections, without the cozy ashram weekends with eleven of us in one room.

Looking back, I am still incredibly happy about my decision to follow this intuition.

Personal development

It sounds like a cliché to say that a yoga teacher training makes you grow personally a lot. But I can assure you: it’s true.

Because I did a two-year training, it was a very sustainable process. I wasn’t in a kind of bubble for three weeks and then thrown back into everyday life, but the training with all its teachings and people became part of my everyday life.

I established some new habits (for example, starting the day with yoga, not eating meat anymore…), learned a lot about myself (I can be really striving when my heart is on a subject) and made friendships that last until today.

New morning routine – better than coffee!

Another aspect that was a real enrichment for me was the spiritual component of the training. While rituals, kirtan & co. were alienating for me in the beginning, they soon became things I even longed for when I was going through difficult phases.

Probably most importantly, I discovered a new comfort zone for myself and feel right at home in the yoga world and in my role as a teacher. I’ve broadened my horizons tremendously and couldn’t be more grateful for it.

My advice to you

If you are thinking about training, I can only encourage you to do it. Even if you don’t want to teach afterwards, you will benefit greatly from it – I promise! If it is somehow possible for you, I would advise you to choose a longer in-service training instead of doing an intensive training in an exotic place for a few weeks. Why? First, you logically learn much more theory in a longer training and also gain much more routine in teaching. In addition, as described above, you build the new activity directly into your everyday life. If you spend three weeks in Bali, for example, the content and new habits can fade away very quickly back in Germany.

However, this is only my personal view. The choice of the right education is very individual, so inform yourself, look what fits best to you and your needs and possibilities.

I wish you from the bottom of my heart that your experience will be as fulfilling as mine!

Common fears that might keep you from taking a yoga teacher training course

If you’re passionate about something, you want to share it. Yoga is no exception. Once you’ve experienced firsthand the positive effects the practice has on your body and soul, sooner or later you’ll want other people to benefit from it, too. At the same time, the desire to learn more about yoga itself and to delve deeper into its origins, underlying philosophy and anatomical aspects also becomes stronger. Since such details are rarely taught in yoga classes, many opt for yoga teacher training.

But taking the step to actually enroll can be difficult and take some overcoming. Some dream of such a training, but don’t really dare or have doubts. That’s what happened to me – and years later, I’m more than happy I took the plunge.

Here are the most common fears that might keep you from becoming a yoga teacher – and why they are unnecessary.

“I’m afraid to speak in front of people”

Do you dread lectures, speeches and presentations? You think that’s why you don’t want to stand in front of a yoga class? Then I have good news for you: teaching, especially teaching yoga, is very different from lecturing. It’s more like instructing than lecturing. The yogis and yoginis in your class are ideally with their attention inside, more engaged with themselves and their practice. No one expects you to be particularly confident, poised – it’s about relaxation, empathy, precise announcements, and pleasant adjustments.

“My practice is not advanced enough”

It is not necessary that you have been practicing for years or that you have mastered all the asanas before taking a Teacher Training. Your practice will deepen automatically with the training. At the same time, it’s not necessary that you can do all the contortions you’ve seen on social media afterwards. First, asanas are only one aspect of yoga, second, you don’t have to master, teach, or demonstrate all the asanas, and third, there probably isn’t a yoga teacher who can.

“I have physical limitations”

Whether they are significant limitations, such as a chronic illness, or minor ones, such as effects of an old injury that don’t otherwise affect you: You can definitely do yoga teacher training and teach, too. The very thing you think is a shortcoming can be your unique selling point. Many who also think they can’t practice will feel inspired by you. Those who have a similar affliction as you will benefit from your experience.

“I’m not spiritual enough”

While yoga is definitely a spiritual practice, there are enough interested people who are more interested in the physical aspect. These are the people you could reach. And for exactly this target group there will also be a corresponding training. Most providers have information events before the start of the training, where you can find out whether you feel comfortable with the atmosphere and the yoga style. Choose an offer that suits your personal preferences.

“I do not see myself in the role of a teacher”

You don’t have to! It’s perfectly okay to take the training just to deepen your own practice. Many people do that. I myself actually just wanted to dive deeper into the subject matter, but then realized in the course of the training how much I enjoy teaching. Who knows – maybe you feel the same way? And even if not, the training period will certainly still be an experience you won’t want to miss.

Are you currently thinking about getting trained? Do you have any concerns that make you hesitate? Share them in the comments!

Time to get started – 7 tips for newly qualified yoga teachers

The yoga teacher training is over, the exams have been passed – but what happens now? No matter how long your training went; now that it’s over, one aspect of your life that was a fixture for you for some time is missing. The goal you were working towards has now been achieved. It’s no wonder that there is a feeling of “what now”, because not all of us gain absolute clarity about how we want to start our yoga career during the training. But even if that’s the case for you, the following tips can help.

Here are my seven tips for brand new yoga teachers:

Find your voice

Ideally, the participants of your classes will only follow your voice. Basically, you shouldn’t even have to demonstrate the poses, so people in your class can be completely with themselves and maybe even keep their eyes closed. At the latest in Savasana, when everyone is in final relaxation, your voice is what guides them through this last phase of the class. Thus, your voice takes on a very special significance. While it is clear that you do not guide your students in the same voice you would use to chat on the phone with your friends, it should be equally clear that you should not disguise your voice. Therefore, try yourself out: Feel free to talk to yourself and experiment with different volumes and pitches. Seek advice from friends and family. What sounds natural, what sounds artificial? This question leads me to the next point.

Be yourself!

Authenticity is important in yoga class. Whoever comes to your class doesn’t want a perfect Instagram fairy or a well-toned superhero in front of them. Whoever comes to your class wants to see a real person. So don’t be afraid to teach yoga as you are. Maybe you have a unique approach, an extraordinary view on yoga? Don’t be too shy to stand by it! If you are very spiritual, but you are afraid of scaring people away, be spiritual anyway! Maybe that’s your niche as a yoga teacher. If you enjoy talking to your students before class, feel free to admit when you’re having a bad day. Whining and spilling your whole private life in front of them is not a good idea, of course, but simply admitting that as a yogi:ni you don’t only have days full of rainbows and unicorns will make you approachable for your students.

Take your own practice seriously

Even if you are demonstrating exercises in class, teaching does not count as your own practice! Why? Because you are holding space for others at that moment. This means that you are not as in tune with yourself as you would be during your own yoga session. You can’t turn inwards and feel as you would in a class just for you, when you are paying attention to a class, giving adjustments, and guiding. Therefore, hit your own mat regularly and dedicate yourself to yourself. The more often you experience the asanas, pranayamas, and meditations yourself, the more vividly and accurately you will be able to guide your students through them, giving your classes that extra something. Plus, of course, it keeps you physically and mentally healthy and makes your teaching better, too.

Get inspired

It’s beautiful to just get on the mat and let yourself be guided by what your body needs at that moment. But it’s also wonderful, especially as a yoga teacher, to take the other position in the yoga studio every now and then and just let yourself be guided. Both variations offer a lot of inspiration. If you like sequences particularly well, make a note of them and use them for later yoga classes. But also, be inspired by your everyday life and the people around you – this way you will collect themes that can be easily woven into yoga classes.

Teach as much as you can

If you are like me, then stage fright is an issue for you. Especially then, it’s important to face this uncertainty regularly so that it loses its dread. Teaching should feel natural to you. Therefore, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way to teach classes. Write to studios in your area and ask if they need teachers or if you can get on a substitute list. Teach interested friends and family members. Join Facebook groups and network with like-minded people – teaching or substitute opportunities may arise. Maybe you’re already daring enough to organize your own classes, or you want to record videos? No matter what the best method is for you – put what you’ve learned in training into practice and gain routine and confidence!

Avoid the “training trap”

Don’t get me wrong: continuing education is great and necessary. I always see myself as a student and am incredibly inquisitive. If a topic excites me, I want to dive into it as deeply as possible and learn as much as I can about it. It’s also important to stay up to date and keep refreshing your knowledge base. What you should avoid, however, is the thought of not being able to start teaching until you have done this or that continuing education. As a certified yoga teacher, you can start right away! If you feel too insecure, you can certainly find other yoga teachers in the area with whom you can observe or assist. But get started! If you want to continue your education, that’s wonderful, but it shouldn’t stop you from gaining practice in teaching.

Believe in yourself and your abilities

“I just finished training; I can’t do anything yet” – sound familiar? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! It is even more important that you take point 3 into account and teach lots of classes. This will make you aware that you can give something to people. Use the skills you learned in the training, let your personality show, and you will gain more and more confidence in teaching. There will be people who will specifically seek out your classes, you will see.

I wish all new yoga teachers the best of luck in this exciting next phase!