How To Strengthen Your Confidence As A Yoga Teacher


Does a lack of confidence affect you and your teaching, my love?

If so, let me assure you that you are SO. NOT. ALONE.

Several months ago I asked people what they were struggling with in their teaching, and what they wanted me to write about, and overwhelmingly, people answered that lacking confidence was one of their biggest struggles as a teacher.

And of course, that’s not a yoga teacher thing. That’s a human thing. I am quite sure that every single human being struggles with feelings of worthlessness and uncertainly and lack of clarity and self doubt. Everyone struggles with those feelings. EVERYONE, you guys. It’s part of the human experience.

It makes sense to me, also, that those feelings are amplified when we take on a role as a teacher. As a yoga teacher you stand at the front of a room full of people who are looking to you for guidance.

And they’re looking to you for guidance in their YOGA PRACTICE, which if you haven’t noticed is a notoriously complex, multi layered topic with almost no black and white answers to questions. Yoga is a tradition that is full of grey areas. There is almost NEVER one hard and fast, right or wrong answer. {Well, certainly the way I teach anyway.}

That makes it pretty much IMPOSSIBLE to feel super confident that you have The Right Answer when you are teaching a group of humans with wildly varied bodies, hearts and needs.

Period.

Let’s add to yoga’s inherent lack of certainty, the prevalence of social media and the way celebrity culture has weaved its way into our yoga world. This can make the yoga world feel like middle school all over again. The most popular teachers are the ones who can do the prettiest handstands, and have enough free time, frankly, to edit those pictures and post them all over the internet.

Some of the other hesitations teachers have shared with me include:

  • Concern they lack their own unique teaching voice.

  • Fear that they don’t know enough to be teaching at all.

  • The worry that their quiet and slow style of teaching aren’t what people want.

Every single one of those concerns have plagued me as well, and pretty frequently. If you are a yoga teacher and you’re NOT struggling with self confidence, at least occasionally, you’re probably not being honest with yourself.

And yet.

{There’s always an And Yet with me. I’m here to help after all!}

I’ve got some advice to share here because my whole life people have commented that I seem like a really confident person, and that could not be further from the truth.

Just last week I got this comment and question from a teacher I am mentoring:

“YES you’re so right that no matter how many smart strategies I put in motion they will not take flight if crippling self-doubt is still at the steering wheel. Have you had to work at all at pumping up your own confidence over the years, or does it just come naturally?…’cause let me tell you sister, your confidence game is STRONG! In a good, metta soft-edge kinda way of course. “

That was so nice to hear, but you guys, let me set the record straight.

Confidence, especially in my teaching, does not come naturally to me.

There is one thing that does come pretty naturally to me, most of the time, and that has given me a HUGE headstart.

I believe I have the right to exist. I believe I have the right to take up space.
Because of that simple belief I have PRACTICED THE SKILLS that make me seem like a confident person.

This feeling of inherent belonging, coupled with a willingness to be bad at things, is something that has served me more than any other quality I possess and for that I am grateful every day.

Confidence is a skill you can practice. Trusting yourself is a muscle that can get stronger.
You have to DO IT, though.
You have to put yourself in situations where you get to PRACTICE trusting yourself and STRENGTHEN your internal confidence.

Let me say this publicly now: I was not a very strong yoga teacher when I first started teaching. I was the runt of my 200 YTT program. I was really young and really anxious and not very deep in my own practice. Being a dancer and having a lot of body knowledge gave me a leg up on other brand new 200 hour trained teachers, but my ability to impart that information in warm and articulate way was less than stellar.

I was TERRIFIED all. the. time. when I was a new teacher.

But I loved yoga and I wanted to take care of people and I wanted to be a yoga teacher.

So even though I had very little confidence in my teaching skills, and honestly, for good reason, I taught as much as I could anyway.

I didn’t have any confidence in myself as a teacher. What I did have was the belief that I could get better and the belief that I had the right to fail.

That’s important y’all. You have the right to fail. You are still a whole and perfect and lovable human when you screw up, and that my loves, is the only way you will actually get better at something.

There’s a difference between having enough confidence to TRY something new and thinking you’re the actual best.

All you really need is enough confidence to let yourself fail.

Here is the truth:
You don’t know enough. There are teachers who know more than you. You may not have your own teaching voice yet. You can be a better yoga teacher than you are right now.

But sweet pea, all you can do is start where you are.

Here are some things you can do RIGHT NOW to help you feel like a more confident teacher:

Absorb this mindset shift…

  • Behaving with confidence is a way of taking care of other people. When you carry yourself in a grounded and confident way, the people around you, especially your students, will relax because they know you are in charge.

Let yourself S L O W D O W N.

  • Speed usually feels ungrounded. Let yourself move slowly and talk slowly and teach slowly. You will seem more grounded and confident to your students and you will be able to be more clear. This will automatically make you a better teacher.

Practice looking at the weak spots in your teaching.

  • I wish for you the ability to look critically at your own teaching without beating up on yourself. I wish for you the desire to learn more and to become a better teacher without being crippled by anxiety. I wish for you to see the blind spots and the weak spots and the holes in your teaching skills and then…

ASK FOR HELP.

  • My god people. Ask for help. Find a mentor. Take more classes with teachers you respect. Take more continuing education. My teaching gets better every year and it’s because I work my ass off to try and get better every day.

Take on as many teaching opportunities as you can.

  • Especially say YES to teaching opportunities that seem hard. The more challenging the teaching environment, the more opportunity for your teaching skills to deepen. Also, the more you teach, the faster you will develop your own unique voice.

You are the one you’ve been waiting for.

  • The most immediate solution for your lack of confidence as a teacher is to offer more patience and compassion to yourself. Truly the only thing you can ever really change, and the only thing that ever really needs to change, In This Moment, is the amount of love you are offering yourself.

You need to believe that you belong and have a right to exist, no matter what.

  • The only person who can truly rescue you from the despair of not-belonging is you. You have to offer yourself the gift of true love and you have to do it RIGHT NOW. If you feel like you belong, if you know you have a right to exist then…

….you will have enough confidence to TRY teaching yoga. And you will screw up. You will confuse your left and right and you will not know as much as your friend who spent all last year studying anatomy.
And that’s OKAY.

Because you will study and practice and PICK YOURSELF UP AND DO IT AGAIN TOMORROW. And tomorrow will be better.

And your confidence muscles will get stronger.

And you will star