May 31, 2011

Life After The Rapture: Tips for Continued Success as a Yoga Teacher. ~ Lori Flynn

Photo: Barry Silver

There is talk that the world is coming to an end but I think what’s ending is an outdated perception of what the world should look like.

The present is a flourishing time for yoga and mind/body/spirit practices.  As yoga teachers, we have been called to a very exciting journey and each of us has a unique roadmap. Many of us may have graduated our Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) programs with a vision in mind of how teaching yoga is supposed to be, but it is only through embracing our individual path that we are able to recognize the gifts we are meant to share.

Much like life itself, our yoga path has its own intelligence and we are merely along for the ride.  Below are some ideas for keeping your structure strong to support the ever evolving form of your yoga business and help yourself achieve your personal mission as a teacher:

Photo: Lululemon Athletica

Maintain your personal practice.

Maintaining your personal practice should be as natural as breathing.  Undoubtedly, the growth experienced through your personal practice inspired you to guide others into yogic territory. Don’t stop being a student when you become a teacher.

What you’ve learned up to the point of becoming a teacher has yet to reveal itself fully and can only do so if continually cultivated.

Let this theory carry over into how you approach the business of yoga—there is no stopping point.

You are never “all set”. Yoga is a paradigm that is ever evolving as a community and societal circumstances change. Stay flexible!

Live it off the mat.

You are your most powerful marketing tool. Be the change! Live your yoga whether you are at the gas pump, serving jury duty or waiting for the bus.

Examine your motivation for teaching yoga.

Be honest with yourself.

Finding your calling as a yoga teacher might challenge what you think your calling is. It might also challenge others. Remember, you were someone else before you found yoga. Think of how you can merge that person with your yogic self to ignite the passion of self discovery in others.

I passionately hated the corporate world so I fled it to pursue yoga. I now apply my business skills to my yoga journey —I love selling, networking, building relationships and creating unique marketing opportunities. Turns out, it wasn’t that I didn’t like business, I just didn’t feel passionate about what I was promoting at the time. Now, I get the best of both worlds and I’m not confined to a cubicle.

Stay positive.

Dump the negative friends. You have a vision in your head. Let your infinite mind create it and usher it into the physical world. In order to do it, you need to keep your energy field free from black holes. You know what those things are. You’re self aware. You get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you recognize yourself or others taking the train to negative town.  Get off at the next stop.

Keep a reading list.

Write down the titles of helpful books that are recommended to you, that you have read in the past or that “pop up” unexpectedly on your path. Get a library card and use it. While you’re there, investigate their meeting rooms. Inquire about giving an afternoon talk on your favorite aspect of yoga or hosting a Bhagavad Gita study group.

Cultivate self worth and a healthy relationship toward money.

You are offering a valuable service. You also need to meet the needs of living in the physical world. Whether it’s through donation based classes or set class fees, you are worthy of accepting compensation.

The exchange of money for a guided yoga experience represents the student making an investment toward his or her self and he or she will be more likely to value their experience and keep their class commitments. If you are inspired to donate your time, seek out an organization or cause that would benefit from your personal strengths as a yoga teacher.

Think inside the box.

So often we find ourselves in such an incestuous yoga world that we teach amongst ourselves, forgetting that the people who may need us most are those who we would never think to approach.

Photo: Barry Silver

This dawned on me when I started teaching at Big Box gym, a role I loved.  I gained exposure to people who would never step foot into a dedicated yoga studio due to intimidation or lack of belief that they could do it.

They were pleased to discover that they could do it and transformed when the non-fitness related aspects of yoga began to surface.

Many of the students stayed with me, others moved on to explore different styles and learning settings.

When I told one of my teachers that I taught at Big Box gym, she looked at me sympathetically and after a long, thoughtful pause assured me, “It’s okay. I once thought about teaching there, too.”

Needless to say, I never returned to that teacher.  As  a yoga teacher, why would one discriminate against a population of eager students?  You’ve spent lots of time honing your valuable intuition—use it!

Recently at the end of a class, a student approached me and said “I just have to tell you. My girlfriends and I refer to you as Mommy Lori.”  That woke my ego up! Here’s this twenty-something girl telling me— a 33 year old woman— that she and her friends call me mommy?  I’d always considered myself one of them!

She clarified by telling me they thought I was nurturing and encouraging, which turned out to be the biggest compliment I’ve received about my teaching, despite my own idea that the featured aspect of my classes was adherence to what I considered to be “yogic authenticity”. Through her lens, she saw me in a different light than I saw myself.

I got there by simply being myself— by not worrying about my self-imposed laws of being completely loyal to my interpretation of yoga and obsessing over the Sanskrit name of every pose that ever existed.

As you wander down your yogic path, you will not please all the people all the time. Start with the goal of pleasing one by being your true self. When you reach one person through your own authenticity you will be amazed at the power of that energetic exchange. Let’s call it fuel!


Lori Flynn is an expert at short bio writing for her Internet journal contributions. She currently resides in Boulder where she teaches yoga, practices Reiki and sings to her dog. Visit www.FullCircleYogaOnline.com to stalk her.

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