As an introvert who hates public speaking, it really surprised me how quickly I got comfortable teaching yoga classes. Over the last year, I have taught both in-person outdoor classes and online classes. My smallest class had one student and my largest class so far had 65 students. I still get a little nervous before each class, but once I get started, the nerves fade away. Here are some tips to help you feel less nervous before you teach a class.
Prepping Your Class 101
Step 1: Write Down Your Sequence
I like to write my sequence down, that way I can take my notes with me to my mat. Yes, you read that right. I take my notes with me to my mat. That way if my mind blanks out, I can glance over and read my sequence, jogging my memory. If you need a template, you can get a free black and white one from Yoga Teacher’s Aide by joining their email list or purchase a printable color class planner on their website for $5.
Step 2: Practice Makes Better Than Winging It
Before live classes, I try to practice the sequence at least once beforehand for two reasons. First to get rid of any awkward transitions and second to make sure the sequence works for the length of the class. Sometimes I find out I need to add or remove poses to make it work.
If you want to get a little crazy, you can do your practice over Facebook or YouTube Live. This is great for two reasons. First, it helps you get the feeling of being “on” while practicing. Sometimes I even mention at the beginning of the video what class I am practicing when I do this (see example here). Second, you are creating content and posting it while you practice and making great use of your time.
Additionally, you can practice teaching the class to friends or family members if you want to get feedback before you teach the class to strangers.
If the thought of getting feedback from people you know terrifies you more than the feedback of strangers, you aren’t alone. I’m the same. Yoga Teacher’s Aide also offers yoga class audits if you want to get a neutral opinion about a specific class or how you are doing as a teacher.
What to Do When You Mess Up
Notice I used the word “when” and not “if” you mess up. You are going to mess up. Even with my notes, sometimes, especially at the beginning or end, I miss one of my sequence blocks or forget a pose or two.
When this happens, just keep going. I usually think about what’s coming up and add appropriate poses on the fly. What does that mean? If we are already on the floor but I forgot standing poses, I do not try to get my class standing again. I add a few floor poses to fill the time. I usually try to think of poses that stretch similar muscles to the missed standing ones, but honestly, whatever you can think of will probably be fine.
It’s going to take time before you feel like you know what you are doing. Keep practicing, keep teaching and eventually it will start to get easier.