Posted by: eveyoga | October 17, 2011

Gentle Advice to New Yoga Teachers

Water Lily Bud

Does one student equal a yoga class?

I know it’s sort of a silly question, but it’s one beginning teachers commonly face for many reasons.

One problem is that newbie yoga teachers are often given timeslots that are hard to fill, so they are unlikely to generate big attendances. Or, the new teacher is standing in for a more popular teacher, and then as the weeks go by, they watch class sizes dwindle. Or, the small class numbers and lack of experience erode confidence and,  as a result, one’s teaching ability is shaken. The process of building classes can be slow and arduous, and patience needs to temper the enthusiasm of a brand-new teacher.

One of the best things an inexperienced yoga teacher can do is keep a close relationship with the person(s) with whom she trained. For one thing, this connection is a special forever-bond, in my opinion. Yoga teacher trainers are usually generous with their time and energy, so their trainees may be able to call on them for any advice that’s needed as their tires hit the teaching road.

If this relationship cannot be carried on for some reason, then a new teacher should find another mentor. Perhaps this is the person that they started out learning from, or have done classes with most recently. After setting up a regular private session once every 4 – 6 weeks, the new teacher can bring all those niggly questions on: sequencing classes, creating themes, therapeutic practices, her own yoga routine, even business issues.

Actually, it isn’t a bad thing at all to have small class numbers initially. A beginning teacher may be able to develop more depth in what she is endeavouring to do with one or a few students than trying for breadth in a large group.

Almost all senior teachers start out the same way: small classes which eventually develop a committed core group, which ultimately form a foundation on which to build…whatever you like. How long does this take? Ah….

I’ve started over in this process three times now. There was Sydney Yoga Centre, then, Simply Yoga, and now The Yoga Shed – from sometimes less than a handful of students to reasonable numbers to more than enough.

All it takes is dedication, faith, and commitment to your own practice and, of course, to the great system of yoga.

Oh, and time.

Here’s a plug for a friend of mine’s excellent on teaching for yoga teachers. Keep a copy of: Teaching Yoga: Exploring the Teacher-Student Relationship by Donna Farhi on your bookshelf for those times when you don’t have your mentoring teaching nearby.



  1. Thank you very much such a warm and encouraging blog to new yoga teachers. Like any passion, the spade work is what makes it all worthwhile in the long run.
    Satisfying to know that all the effort one puts in can have such good results, teaching something that may be of help to others and is so rewarding personally. Yoga and teaching yoga helps me to learn about myself and capacity and limits every day in more ways than I could have imagined.

    I am privileged that starting to teach so late after having other careers enables me to enjoy this time, not having to rely on it solely for my income takes so much pressure off and I think really allows me to be so present with what I am doing.

    I do have a yoga trainee buddy and we chat about everything we are experiencing. I have found some of the other teachers (of course you) that I didn’t actually train with enormously generous with their time and advice.

    It is a lovely community to be involved with. (So far)

    Thanks again,

    Love your blog.

    Tania x

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