In many ways when we broach the subject of finding your own voice as a yoga teacher, one can’t help but realize that what we are really talking about or exploring is the idea of “what is the meaning of life for me?” The reason why this is a much deeper conversation then something as “developing your sequencing” is because this has to do with acknowledging ones authenticity and really getting to the root of who we are and what we bring to the table.
For yoga teachers to discover their unique voice means that they must know who they are and what they want to offer the world. Just like when a singer sings or an author writes about what they write about, a yoga teacher has to know (or at least be aware that they are in an exploration mode) why they teach, what their purpose is, and what unique message (i.e. voice) they are going to bring to the table in each class.
As a yoga teacher, this is not just about teaching asanas and poses. These physical practices yogis explore with asanas is just the physical manifestation and representation of a persons thoughts, feelings, and emotions all combined. The asana is the end result of what is inside. This means that as a yoga teacher, you are going to be connecting with your students on a much deeper level whether you or they realize it. So in exploring the idea of finding your voice as a yoga teacher, you must also be ready to explore what life means to you and what you want to teach others about it.
Finding your unique voice as a yoga teacher starts with you knowing who you are and how you convey your teachings so that they resonate and inspire those you are connecting with. The idea here is to not try and be everything to everyone. This is not about being McDonalds and trying to serve everyone. It’s about you finding your perspective and flavor to teaching and then staying true to this. This is not to say that you are never inspired by others to then want to incorporate that inspiration into your teaching. On the contrary, its about you putting your own twist or spin to it so it becomes yours and that everything you do stays aligned and true to who you are. Not just regurgitating what others have told you and copying them like a mindless robot.
What many teachers in all industries (not just yoga) fail to realize, is that if you have something true to say for yourself, then there will be somewhere there willing to listen. As a teacher, you will always be walking that fine line between staying true to yourself while still being open to other ideas and ways of doing something. Your students are coming to you because you are a filter of an idea. Look at the analogy of following someone on Facebook or Twitter: people like or follow someone because that page has a specific theme and it is staying true to that theme. If that page all of a sudden went of course with its theme, then most people would stop following it. Your students will “like” or “follow” you in the same manner because of your unique voice as a teacher.
So as you start to develop your craft and find your voice here are some tips that might support you along the way:
As children, we always knew what excited us. We went from playing one game to the next. If we were hungry we knew it. And we had so many dreams about what we wanted to do with life. Then as we got older we lost our way. We somehow subscribed to the idea that we are supposed to be doing something other then what we really wanted. Hence a billion-dollar self-help movement that tells us what we already knew: follow your passion.
As long as you stay “tuned in” to your excitement, then you can NEVER go wrong. Your excitement will be like a guiding beacon calling to your students and they will join you with enthusiasm. By following your excitement in how you want to teach or what you want to convey, this allows you to stay true to who you really are and this will be your voice.
Many of us (especially in the “conscious” movement) have correlated being bold or confident with being arrogant or thinking we are better then others. Therefore many of us have not learned how to be confident or strong without being cocky. Either you have many who are shy or insecure because they don’t want to seem as if they are boasting about themselves, or the other extreme of being arrogant.
If you want to become a yoga instructor and stand up in front of large classes, then you need to be ready to step up to the plate and lead. This is a fine art unto itself and takes a lot of time in. But as a yoga teacher, all eyes are on you so be ready to move the crowd and just because you know your self-worth does not mean you are saying others are less than you. Its just a simple statement of you knowing who you are and that’s it.
Any famous actor or athletes are where they are because they practiced like maniacs. They are so obsessed with their performance that they just go through the repetitions over and over again. From this repetition comes confidence and you will get used to it.
Just know that in the beginning you will stumble and you will make some mistakes. Two words: So What! Just get over the fact that you will make mistakes and accept the idea that you will need to go through many dry runs and practice until you truly find your voice as a yoga teacher.
As with ANY successful teacher, they had mentors and people they looked to. In fact, many even copy some of them. The key here is to eventually make it your own. Its ok if in the beginning you find yourself sort of mimicking others that you admire. But just make sure that at some point you “kill the Buddha” and make it yours. So pay attention to those people you see as your teacher. Honor and respect their unique voice. See what about it resonates with you so much and then explore how you can bring your own twist to this.
Getting down to brass tax in finding your voice as a yoga teacher means you really need to know what it is you want to teach and how do you perceive true health. Everyone has his or her own idea of what optimal health is. I mean there are certain things that most would agree is accurate about being a healthy body. But how to get there and what to focus on is the difference.
Just like many have different opinions about what is proper diet (Ayurveda, Raw, Vegetarian, Paleo, Fruitarian, Atkins, etc…) many will also have there own opinions about how to best use yoga to achieve optimal health. One thing most teachers can agree upon is that “every body is different” This is why finding your unique voice is so important because once you establish your tone and flavor and you will attract the right people to be your students who will benefit from your perspective.
Remember, this is not about trying to be everything to everyone. It’s about you being you and allowing the universal law of attraction to bring you the students who will benefit from your way of teaching. The great thing about this is that no one is right or wrong, just different. And what works for one person may not work for another and that’s ok.
Of course it must also be stated that you will always be “fine tuning” your voice. Its not that one-day you will have this epiphany and everything will fall into place and that’s the end of the road. In fact, in many ways it’s still the beginning. It’s more that you do synchronize with the universe enough that what comes through you is more harmonized and in tune with universal truths and understanding. This way as you speak and lead as a teacher, what you are saying and doing is being of service and offering true help and support to those who need it. In many ways you can see yourself as a doctor or therapist who will be graduating college with enough information to help some people. But still not enough that you can stop learning and growing (not that you really do at any point anyways)
So if you are truly ready to learn to teach yoga and take a yoga certification program, then remember that as you honor the teachers that guide you, to not copy them and stay true to yourself so that you can find your voice as a yoga teacher.
About the author: As the Yogi Coach, Sergio DiazGranados offers yoga marketing and business support which includes web design, yoga SEO, business strategy, and much more. He has been running his own business since he was sixteen years old and used to work for Gaiam, one of the largest yoga media companies where he published their yoga magazine Gaia and helped manage their online media division LIME.com and the LIME Ad Network.
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