1) * Establish a Daily Practice. *
Rather than rigidly forcing yourself to carve out a huge block of time for practice, follow the principle, “A little bit each day goes a long way.” Yes, in general, it’s better to stay consistent with your yoga practice, even if that just means less each day, than to do it for awhile, stop, then come back, or use the “weekend warrior” approach. In the Yoga Sutras, we find: 1.14 When that practice is done for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation. (sah tu dirgha kala nairantaira satkara asevitah dridha bhumih). Remember also that yoga “practice” does not just mean what you do on the mat, but everything we do in life. Each moment we can be practicing mindfulness, conscious awareness of how the mind works, the attachments we have, and the choices we make. ***
2) * Keep going to class! *
Continue to attend as many different yoga classes as you can, exploring the wide variety of styles and teachers available. You might especially want to try a style of yoga that you have been a bit afraid of trying, for whatever reason. If you are not able to attend classes, there are many helpful videos available online. Websites you might want to explore for this: Myyoga.com. Myfreeyoga.com . DoYogaWithMe.com. Youtube. YogaJournal.com. And create your own videos! (see below)
3) * Keep Teaching! *
After your Yoga Teacher Training program, you might not feel ready quite yet to jump right in and start teaching people you’ve never met. So instead, I recommend teaching at least 2 classes per week to family and friends (more would be better, again, for consistency’s sake). Or even practice teaching in front of a mirror, or to your pet goldfish, but keep practicing! Also, study teachers who particularly inspire you, but always be yourself when you teach.
4) * Seek out other ways of staying motivated, inspired, and educated about yoga. *
For instance, there are Continuing Education opportunities for Yoga beyond just yoga classes, which include workshops, retreats, conferences, festivals, and other gatherings. You might even consider another Teacher Training in a style of yoga that you want to explore more deeply. Find someone in your area who is specificially offering Continuing Ed. for yoga. Perhaps befriend another local Yoga teacher and continue your learning together, or inspire your partner to explore yoga together with you.
5) * Study Yourself *
At least once a month, consider doing a video and/or photo shoot of yourself doing yoga and/or teaching yoga (a video shoot would be better, of course, because you can observe more). Self-study (or in Sanskrit, Swadhyaya, one of the 5 Niyamas of the Yoga Sutras), also involves being understanding your character better, and your place in the world. To learn more about yourself, you might delve more deeply into your astrology, take a personality test like the Enneagram, do “Shadow” work (ways in which we unconsciously sabotage ourselves), share satsang (open, honest communication) with a close friend, or read an insightful book. As for the latter, the various yoga scriptures are a good place to start, and these books include The Vedas, The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutras; or read many of the fine books on yoga that have been published in the last century, such as “Autobiography of a Yogi” (Yogananda), “Light on Yoga” (Iyengar), “Yoga and Health” (Yesudian and Haich), “The Mirror of Yoga” (Richard Freeman), “Be Love Now” (Ram Dass), “Yoga Beyond Belief” (Ganga White), among many others. [Note: I will be posting a bibliography with a number of recommended titles in the near future.]
6) * Register with Yoga Alliance. *
I didn’t put this and the next recommendation (#7) sooner because these won’t be that essential for everyone to do, especially if you will not be teaching yoga at a yoga studio or fitness center. I have discussed this and #7 below in a previous blog post, which you can read HERE. .
You might also want to consider looking into other possibilities for registration. For example, there is an organization called “The International Yoga Federation” (http://www.internationalyogafederation.net/), that offers an international registration which is less expensive than Yoga Alliance. A friend recently told me about a group called Yoganomics (Yoganomics.net) which describes itself as “Indie Yoga” and questions the authority of Yoga Alliance. I don’t have much of a take on all of this as yet as I have not fully explored the issues. I am just presenting this to you as options to consider and to investigate further yourself.
7) * Consider getting yoga insurance. *
Yoga insurance can be a useful thing to have “just in case,” yet I also feel the best insurance is to practice “ahimsa” (non-harming) in everything we do as much as possible. As we become more loving beings (or rather, tap more into the love within ourselves), then we will not have to be fearful of others harming us. This idea is found in the Yoga Sutras (2.35): “As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility.”
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)
8) * Develop a personal yoga business plan for yourself. *
Yogi Berra once famously said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” So plan things out, and the create concrete, doable action steps. As far as your plan goes, base it on your personal vision for your life, based on your greatest passions, inspirations, & dreams. And dream BIG, knowing that anything & everything is possible with time, patience, perseverance, & practice. As far as your actions steps go, you might want to create a website (WordPress is a great way to do it because it is cheap, user-friendly, and has great Search Engine Optimization), make business cards (Vistaprint is also cheap and effective), write a professional bio, make a portfolio of professional profile pictures, create an email clientele database & start a newsletter (I love Mailchimp), and/or even write your own complete business plan using an online website such as Biztree, Bplan, or Liveplan. There are also organizations out there these days geared specifically toward the financial stability of yoga professionals, such as Zen Business Bootcamp (Zenbusinessbootcamp.com). The truth is that being a new yoga teacher in today’s economy can be a challenge, yet life is abundant and there is no reason why you cannot reach financial independence through your teaching. All it takes is to live your passion, planning, and take those consistent action steps toward fulfilling your dreams, remembering that: “No one plans to fail. We fall to plan.”
9) * Network *
Network with other local yoga teachers, businesses, and also online. Attend local yoga and yoga-related events in your area such as kirtans, yoga studio parties and grand openings, movie nights, spiritual gatherings, etc. Or, host your own event! As far as online networking goes, Facebook is one of the best ways these days to network and market your yoga, especially by creating events and inviting friends to them. Beyond Facebook, there are a number of alternative social networking communities out there, too, such as Evolver (Evolver.net). You might also want to be listed on one or more of the many yoga listing sites out there, such as the Yoga Network (yoganetwork.org), Yoga Finder (yogafinder.com), and Yoga Directory (yogadirectory.com). Finally, consider reading the following Yoga Journal article on the subject of networking for yoga teachers.
10) * Practice random acts of (yoga) kindness. *
Finally, in all the business and “busy-ness” we are doing, let us not forget the deeper message and true Spirit of yoga, which is to find a place of contentment, freedom, pure love, compassion, and stillness. We are here not to be dependent or make others dependent on us, but to give them the tools so that they can free themselves and become more and more independent. This independence will come from releasing our attachments to things, one big one being our attachment to money and the monetary system as it is. So remind yourself of this by giving the great gift of yoga for free, whether it’s by offering a free class each week, teaching a friend or stranger yoga, raising awareness about yoga, or even just giving someone on the street a hug or making them smile. I recently attended a class where the teacher encouraged us all to make 10 people smile that day. I thought that was nice : )
* This piece is dedicated to all of our recent graduates in Maui, Florida, & Costa Rica. *