Becoming a Yoga Instructor is a dream many people have. In this post Ashley reflects on what it’s like to work as a Yoga Instructor, recalling the poignant life lessons she’s learnt over the years.
1. There are no accidents. I’ve witnessed instructors cancel a class because fewer than three students showed up, but personally, I think that if someone has come to yoga, then they need yoga in the same way that someone would schedule a medical appointment for any given ailment. Every student that walks into a class is looking for peace. I’ve had a handful of classes where only one student has shown up, and instead of cancelling, I think the universe has brought us together for a much-needed reason; who would I be to question the universe?
2. You will not make everyone happy. The most common complaint I’ve received during my classes involves the music. The second most common complaint involves the intensity of the class, such as the postures or pacing. During my own training to become an instructor, one of my teachers told me that once you cater to one student’s requests, you have opened a can of worms that cannot be shut. The best thing to do is stay true to your style; let the people who don’t like you go.
The best thing to do is stay true to your style; let the people who don’t like you go.– Yoga Instructor, Ashley Archambault
3. You must separate your “why” from your money. As a yoga instructor, I want to help people, so “helping people” is my “why,” or the reason behind what I do. Staying in touch with your why is important, but when you start worrying more about how much money you’re making from each class offering instead of how much you are showing up for your students, then your why will become money, and that shouldn’t be anyone’s why.
4. It is not about you. Yoga is such a sacred practice that is rooted in self. Yoga connects your mind and body and has immeasurable health benefits. But when you’re an instructor, yoga is about everyone else in the room, not you. Using inspiration from what you need and sharing that with your students is a good start, but it’s important to be in tune with what your students are needing in that moment, not what you need right now. The same is true in our relationships. Self-care comes first, but the separation from self is what allows us to make meaningful connections with others, which is just as valid a part of caring for one’s self.
5. Most people do not listen to their own bodies. When I first started practicing yoga, I did not know what it meant to listen to your body: was my body going to talk to me and relay divine messages? Listening to your body means respecting your own capability and paying attention to what does not feel good. If it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it. Our bodies are designed to tell us when something is wrong, but most people are so disconnected from themselves, both physically and mentally, that when they begin yoga, learning how to go inward is a real challenge, but it is one that is so rewarding.
6. Everyone’s body is different. Our actual bone structure varies among people, meaning that the bones in your wrist may be shaped differently than someone next to you in class. Your body in one posture may look different than someone else in the same posture simply because the range of motion their body allows is different from your own. Respect your body’s abilities.
7. So, the only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday. I have never taught a class where students were not looking around the room at the other practitioners or at myself as an instructor. Looking around is what you should do if you’re unsure of how a posture looks or you simply missed the verbal cues; what should be avoided is looking around the room to see if your body looks just like someone else’s. They call yoga a “practice” for a reason. Every time you come to your mat, you will be different from the last time you came to your mat. In time, you will move deeper and you will learn what feels good for you. Don’t worry if your neighbor is doing a head stand, and you can’t touch your toes. All that matters is where you are at in your own practice.
The only person you should be comparing yourself to is the person you were yesterday.– Yoga Instructor, Ashley Archambault
8. True love is unconditional. If you’ve ever had a dog, or known someone who had a special bond with their dog, then you’ve probably experienced or witnessed the most genuine form of unconditional love there is. Your dog will love you no matter how you look today, how you’re feeling, or what kind of mood you’re in. Yoga is the same way. Yoga does not care if you feel unattractive today, if you have a broken heart, or if you’re just not your best self. Yoga will love you no matter what, and that is true love.
9. People just love other people. Yoga is not a team sport. Yoga is very much so an individual experience. But nearly every student I’ve had has told me that they need to attend a class or they just will not practice on their own. They feel that they need to be guided and that the other students motivate them. The energy you feel in a class surrounded by others moving through ritualistic postures with you can be very powerful, and a class will always be a far more different experience than rolling out your mat at home. When we experience something we love with other people, the experience is inherently more rewarding.
10. We are in this together, whether you like it or not. Sometimes it can be hard to understand why we can hurt one another or hate one another, but if you attend a yoga class, you will be reminded that we all just want to be connected in some way to one another. When you practice yoga in a group, you are vulnerable. You are moving your body in unusual positions in front of other people, and you are going into your mind in a way that is so personal, while surrounded by strangers.
Reflecting on where you’re at can bring perspective to what others around you may be going through, even if you do not know them. Once you connect to yourself in an honest way, you will be able to empathize with others far more naturally. It may start with your neighbor in a yoga class, but you can take that empathy out into the world with you. We all share the same basic needs, wants and emotions; we are undeniably connected to one another through the human experience.