20 Insights to Set You Up as a Successful, Skillful, Happy(!) Yoga Teacher

The phrase, “teachers learn from their students,” is even more salient when your students are seasoned teachers themselves. Recently, my Advanced Teacher Training module in London was drawing to a close, and I asked the more experienced members of the group–many of whom have been teaching for years–to share one piece of advice to the aspiring teachers in the room. As the trainees started answering, I realized that we needed to document and post the conversation. For some of you, this advice for yoga teachers will be new pieces of wisdom that you can apply to your teaching. For others, they will be a nice confirmation and reminder of what you already know. Either way, I truly believe that these insights will help make you a more skillful, successful, and satisfied teacher.

If you’d like to join this brilliant group of students to deepen your practice and advance your teaching, there are a few spots in my next two 100-hour modules in London! I had a great time teaching the first module — there’s nothing I enjoy more than engaging with bright, inquisitive students. I always learn so much and it’s a thrill to see people grow into themselves. I would love to see you there. (Dates are August 5th-18th, 2015 and January 15th-28th, 2016) Click here for all the details.

Advice for Yoga Teachers from Those Who Have Been There

On being true to yourself:
Michael Hoyer
1. “Learn what you need to do hold the space energetically and vocally. It’s a disservice to yourself if you are meek, too quiet, or apologetic about perceived failings. Be a conductor of that symphony of bodies. Move around the room and let students hear and feel your presence.”
Michael Hoyer, USA

Courtney Morgan cropped{Photo: Steve Lenz}
2. “Authenticity comes from being you. For example, I was uncomfortable leading chanting, so I stopped doing it because it wasn’t part of my practice. I try now to simply share my own practice and what I’m working on.”
Courtney Morgan, USA


Melanie George{Photo: Noura El-Imam}
3. “Just be you. Teach and be yourself.”
–Melanie Morgan-George, United Arab Emirates


Mine Taylan
4. “There are no ‘has to be’s’ in your teaching. Meaning, you’re free to be yourself and teach what you feel called to teach.”
–Mine Taylan, Sweden

On teaching a great (or not so great) class:
Kristina Larsen
5. “Do not be too attached to or upset by mistakes. You’ll say things that don’t make sense once in awhile, like, ‘Step your foot to your foot.’ Don’t worry about it—-we all do this. Just let it go and move on.”
–Kristina Larsen, Denmark


6. “Take a moment to ground yourself before you start teaching. This will help you keep a better tempo and let students feel their own bodies more. If you’re ungrounded or have too many thoughts, you’ll rush through things quicker. Remember, there’s no rush.”
Vibekke Fausa, Norway


Adam Hocke{Photo: Mimi Kuo-Deemer}
7. “Learn people’s names and who they are. It holds you to a higher standard of attentiveness that not only makes teaching more interesting and meaningful, it keeps students coming back.”
Adam Hocke, UK


Carrie Rood
8. “Take your time to organize the room in a way that suits you and what you want to teach.”
–Carrie Rood, UK


9. “It’s easy for the ego to take over and teach a very hard pose so you can show off a bit. But you don’t have to do difficult poses or sequences to make a good class, especially if it is inappropriate for the student level. The process of yoga will take care of itself.”
–Neda Shayeghi, UK


Anne McCarthy
10. “Allow people to have some space and quiet during the practice. Do not be afraid to be quiet up and step back once in a while“.
–Anne McCarthy, UK


On taking care of yourself:
Katja Bartsch
11. “As a new teacher, it was hard for me to say “no” to covering class or taking classes I was offered even if they didn’t work in my life. Even though I feel a lot of pressure to say “yes” to opportunities, I’ve learned to have boundaries and only take the classes that feel good and right.”
–Katja Bartsch, Germany


12. “Be sure to take good care of yourself—-it’s easy to forget about your own health and wellbeing when you’re a new teacher. Be sure to stay in good shape and remain connected to your practice.”
–Carrie Rood, London, UK


Sarah Stephan
13. “Be mindful of your own body while making adjustments. Give fewer manual adjustments and when you give them, make them highly focused. Don’t waste your energy with ‘drive-by’ adjustments that are quick and unfocused—it’s too easy to put your body at risk.”
Sarah Stephan, USA


Dionne Elizabeth{Photo: Jean Cena}
14. “Take care of yourself. Keep up your home practice so that you are more capable of knowing what you need.”
Dionne Elizabeth, UK & Norway


15. “It’s too easy to get stuck demonstrating all the time. In my opinion, verbal cueing is more powerful. It was key to take back my energy and watch students practice so I could see and teach to their bodies.”
–Michele Murray, UK


Derval Scales{Photo: Veronica Sanderson}
16. “You don’t have to put pressure on yourself to do difficult poses.”
–Derval Scales, Ireland


On staying confident and allowing yourself to grow:
Adam Husler
17. “Do not be too apologetic about mistakes or variances in your sequence. Be confident in what you teach even if you don’t do everything you’ve planned.”
Adam Husler, UK


18. “I’m a bit of a perfectionist and tend to beat myself up after teaching. Now instead of asking ‘What did I do wrong?’ I try to ask ‘What did I do right? What could I do better?’” Dionne Elizabeth, UK & Norway


Katja Heger{Photo: Tandy Kerry}
19. “I used to get worried when the sizes of my classes varied. If class was smaller than I was used to, I worried that I wondered if I did something wrong. Now I have greater perspective about it. I don’t take it personally. People may be waiting for kids, or home late from work. I just teach the best I can with what I know.”
Katja Heger, UK


Frankie Street
20. It’s hard, but you have to learn keep your morale up. You might feel like you’re getting nowhere and not developing your classes. Remember, it takes time. Any new venture is going to be challenging, especially a career change.”
Frankie Street, UK


  1. What a great collection for new teachers! And I love that a lot of these teachers are from Europe. 🙂

    • Thanks, Emma! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  2. After teaching multiple disciplines, I can say that these are my TOP THREE:
    Be Yourself
    Don’t Take “It” Personally
    Keep Learning

    • Thanks, Christine. I agree that these are excellent!

  3. Thank you for sharing. Yes to all! Trust yourself. Keep learning. And most of all–be your most authentic self. The more you can teach from that deep place of what you know, the more students will connect with what you are sharing.

    • I couldn’t agree more, Erin. Thank you!

  4. keep learning and looking for inspiration, every class and every student is challenge to do something different and creative.Thanks

  5. This is very inspiring and helpful thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  6. Thanks! I wrote some of these down to continue to inspire me.

  7. Say hello and goodbye using your student’s name to make a personal connection. State verbal cues to everyone, not just one student using their name. I’ve learned the hard way it’s too personal and they may feel called out, or picked on, even when using the softest voice. Everyone in class responds to verbal cues anyway, even if you’re only directing your cue to one student. Just say it to all and avoid embarrassing anyone which may cause them not to return to your class. And, yes, be yourself!

  8. Thank you Jason for sharing these insights. IT’s always a source of comfort hearing from other teachers’ experiences & knowing you are not alone

  9. Lovely, honest & reflective comments. I’d like to add; do not try to emminate anothers style or compare yours with anyone. Sometimes what comes most naturally to us is what what we discard as common, but is the root of what defines how we can teach in a unique, authentic and grounded way. Making for a natural connection with people.

  10. Thank you for those useful tips, as I’m a new yoga teacher this information is really helpful and build up my confidence for teaching. Great article, Namaste.

  11. It is nice to know we all have insecurities and ego problems. 😀 You are the best Jason, Namaste.

  12. I truly wish I had read this over a year ago when I first stepped out to teach! I’ve left many classes wanting to beat myself up & then realizing this is not the yogic way..I’ve struggled being my worst critic but thank the universe I have great, encouraging students, friends & teachers…Thanks Jason Crandall always look forward to reading your insights!

  13. Just found this article and am so grateful. I would add that it is important to take care of your voice! Especially if you are teaching 3 or 4 classes per day, it’s a lot of talking! I practice big belly breaths, drink throat coat tea every day, and work to project through my abdomen rather than my mouth. Thanks Jason!

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Martha!

  14. I would add . . . stay close to your own teacher. Lots of teachers go to each other’s classes, which can be fun and connection-making. But there is no substitute for a teacher who is far ahead of you on the path, who holds themselves and you accountable and who will offer you wisdom that only you are ready for.

  15. Thank you for all your down to earth knowledge that you put in the world Jason. You were my very first yoga teacher, i found you on you tube like 15 years ago (?). Then started practicing and became certified at Saraswati in Connecticut. It has taken me a long time to realize my dream of teaching for different reasons. But I just moved to Cali and was hired to teach in both Spanish and English in Sonoma. Your educational programs at YogaGlo have been extremely useful to inform my teaching. I have gained lots of confidence and I am finding my authentic voice. I love that I can go back to your trainings any time. I am really looking forward to taking a live class/workshop with you too! Gracias

    • Thanks for writing, Ivana. Welcome to California. I’m so glad that you’re teaching in English and Spanish. I’ve always thought we need more bilingual classes in this region! I hope to meet you in class someday!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This