• Aoife McHugh

New Yoga Teacher Fears: Moulding that Mat Mindset

Updated: Jun 30, 2020

When you imagine what a yoga teacher looks like, you probably envision someone with the pliability of a Sea lion (they can rotate their hind flippers under their bodies and walk) who knew!? You may also assume they require the litheness of Simone Biles to guide someone's practice. This can lead to self-doubt for a new yoga teacher like me, who struggles with flexibility. Like my body, I know that my thoughts aren't concrete. They are both malleable like cement and this was further reinforced when I listened to an enlightening episode of The Yoga Life Podcast with Kevin Boyle.

For sixty minutes, Kevin was shooting the breeze with Maura Rath (IG: Yoga With Maura) and it was the breath of fresh air I needed on this day. I was searching for some guidance and this discussion definitely delivered. It also set my train of thought on an entirely new track with crossovers emerging from some of my favorite Self-Help books. In this post I will share seven tips I gleaned from this illuminating exchange.

1. Be Relatable

I am not naturally flexible, I can't "sit like a Yogi" but this is something I plan to use to my advantage. If someone is having difficulty with a pose, I can easily empathize. Kevin and Maura both touched on their experience with this.

2. Appeal to Beginners

Create sequences that cater to all and provide optional challenges.

3. Be Unique

Figure out what sets you apart and roll with it! I plan to incorporate energy, creativity and positivity into my classes.

4. Practice

Consistency breeds confidence! Start small and teach as often as you can. I remember starting my English teacher training in 2012 and I was über nervous. Now being in a classroom feels natural and it has also made me very adaptable.

5. Find your voice

The more you practice guiding a class, the more you discover about yourself. I have learned that my experience as an English teacher has given me confidence but an educational setting and a yoga class have very different energies. I am working on adjusting my voice and movement to adequately reflect this.

6. Self Help Book #1: Louise Hay: Heal Your Life

Avoid using Should

Should is one of the most damaging words in our lexicon. It suggests that we are wrong.

Use could and see how it creates choice! I could practice arm balances today! (It is a privilege not a punishment!) Although, sometimes I need to remind myself of this!

7. Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right.

Self Help Book #2: Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear

This made me think about something Elizabeth Gilbert wrote when she altered a famous self-help question: "What would you do if you knew you might very well fail?"

She pressed further: "What do you love more than your own ego?" "How fierce is your trust in that love?" You might say: "Why should I go to the trouble if the outcome may be nothing?"

The following question hit me with the force of a home run: "What else are you going to do with your time here on earth, not make things?" (I felt compelled to add: not chase dreams?) She remarked that there is always the alternative of stopping whenever you want. I'll leave the last word to the Liz, who, with the ferocity of a baseball pitcher released a fierce, fireball of advice:

"But seriously, really? Because, think about it, then what?"

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©2020 by Aoife Mchugh.