1. Know Your Audience
Every yoga instructor’s first time teaching is different. How you approach the class depends on who is taking it. Are your students required to be there (read: workplace or school environments) or do they want to be there (studios and gyms)? Are they stressed-out business-types coming to a studio for much needed relaxation? Or are they athletes looking for a good stretch while strengthening at a fitness center? Before heading in for the first time, make sure you fully understand what is expected of you. Some studios or classes have a specific class sequence they require you to teach–so stick to that. Orient your sequencing and tone toward the needs of your audience; you’ll get a better feel once class has started too. Put in the time to understand them, and you’ll be one step closer in knowing exactly what to deliver.
2. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…
The main objective in guiding your first yoga class is to teach a solid, safe practice to your students. Start with basics: essential language, pace, breath, and alignment. Don’t come prepared with a speech you plan to deliver. Deliver what feels right. If you are trying to recite something from memory, it will come off and not authentic and probably end up tripping you up instead of helping you out. It’s your first class; no one expects everything to be exactly perfect. Keep your eye on the prize of serving your students and all will be well in the land of yogi goodness.
Commit to making your first class lighthearted and fun.
3. … Or the Big Stuff Either.
Employ a sense of humor and lightness to give an air of approachability to your new role as a yoga teacher. The energy and intention you bring to class affects each and every student, so why not have some fun? Use your own enjoyment in preparing for and teaching your first class as a barometer: if you’re enjoying yourself, there is a good chance your students will and are enjoying it, too. You smiling gives your students permission to smile. Commit to making your first class lighthearted and fun. Not only will an intention to enjoy take the pressure off, having fun will ensure your students leave your first class with good vibes.
4. Get and Be Real
In each and every class, yoga teachers have opportunities to truly shine. Oftentimes, these opportunities happen in the moments directly following a mishap. Did you completely screw up your opening line? Totally ace one side of a sequence and botch the other side? It happens–probably more often than you think. Get real with your expectations of yourself. Go easy on yourself. Remember that sense of humor you committed to? Yeah, now’s a great time to give it a call. Laugh–and move on. No one expects you to come out of teacher training as The Greatest Yoga Teacher That Ever Lived.
“You only get to teach your first yoga class once.”
5. Enjoy the Process
Think about engaging with your new life as a yoga teacher like dating: we only get one first date with a new partner, one first kiss. Think of the way your heart thrills when your romantic interest calls or messages. Remember the excitement and butterflies, the nerves and fears. The hopes, curiosity, and genuine heart you bring to getting to know someone new. Approach your role as yoga teacher in that same way. Slow down. Enjoy where you are. You only get to teach your first yoga class once. Ever. Savor it. New experiences can be scary, sure, but trust yourself. It’s all part of the process. We have a limited number of “firsts” in this life; once they’re gone, they’re gone.
Now go get ’em!