My path to teaching my first yoga class after finishing my Yoga Teacher Training
Congratulations, you’ve now received your yoga teacher training certificate! What happens now? Do you want to get a job as a yoga teacher, right after completing your Yoga Teacher Training?
Basically, and based on my own experience, I would recommend to first take some time off after finishing your Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). You’ve had an exhausting month of training, you’ve learned a lot, and you have probably gone though some things beyond yoga poses. Now it’s time to digest and let it all sink in.
Personally, I went to Canggu right after my Yoga Teacher Training in Bali with a new friend Phoebe, who happend to be my roommate during the training, to relax by the beach for a few days. Afterwards, I continued on my own to Padang Bai to meet my other new friend from the YTT at the harbor. From there we took the speedboat to Lombok, Bali’s “sister island”.
Surfing in Lombok and some volunteering on Gili Air
My friend Barbara had rented an Airbnb on Lombok, not far from the beautiful beach Selong Belanak, to learn surfing. Through her I also spontaneously came to enjoy my first ever surf lesson there. Afterwards I went to Gili Air, a tiny island near Lombok, while my friend Barbara choose to stay in Lombok for a little while longer.
There, I stayed a few nights at H2O, a small yoga and meditation center. This is a super cute place with small huts, a swimming pool and a small cafe. And of course yoga.
As luck would have it, they just happened to be looking for a new volunteer. But not as a yoga teacher (they don’t take in absolute newbies for that!), the “job” was simply to talk to the cafe’s guests to make sure they liked and enjoyed it and to “inspire” them to leave a positive review of the cafe on TripAdvisor (yes, that was the whole job, so pretty easy).
Since I had enough time and no plan at all what I should do next, I immediately signed up for it! In return for the 3 hours of “work” per day, I got my own (small) room in the main house, access to all yoga classes for free and 50% discount on everything from the cafe (and that was super delicious!).
On top of that, I was able to do laundry for free and use one of the bikes (which is great for getting around Gili Air!). This made me stay on Gili Air for a total of two weeks. I could have stayed there even longer, but after some time I realized that it was time for me to leave to my next destination.
Develop your own yoga practice after the Yoga Teacher Training!
The time spent at the yoga center was really good for me. I was able to work on my new yoga practice every morning, and I got to do it in one of their beautiful yoga shalas, which I could use for myself whenever there were no yoga classes in progress (and there weren’t any at 6 am in the morning).
(Yes, another side effect of my yoga teacher training was, that I would now get up around 6 am in the morning!).
It is pretty likely that you will make some changes to your personal yoga practice, after you’ve gone through a Yoga Teacher Training. Or you might just start developing a yoga practice, if you haven’t had one before. I also got to attend the yoga classes there for free and I think that’s worth a lot.
In fact, after the yoga training, I started to look more consciously at other yoga teachers and how they lead their classes, in order to learn from them. After all, I was no longer only a yoga student, but a yoga teacher as well now (Yay!).
Get inspired and find your own teaching style
In my opinion, going to other yoga classes is a great way to get inspiration. You simply observe what you like about any given teacher and their particular teaching style and then maybe try to do it the same way (if it resonates with you) or try something similar.
Or, and this has happened to me once or twice after my teacher training, you encounter teachers or find yourself in a yoga class where you don’t necessarily like the teacher or you don’t like the way they teach a class. After such a class, I would always take notes (e.g. “okay, please don’t do it like that in your class!”). This is very valuable, especially in the beginning when you might not have found your own teaching style yet.
I think finding your own teaching style after the Yoga Teacher Training takes time and practice. Maybe even some “mistakes“. Only through this you become better and know what is important to you, what is special to you and what you actually want to teach your students.
Remember: Not every yoga teacher out there received the same yoga training. Maybe they have not learned something you have learned and vice versa. For example, what I personally observe the most in other yoga classes, is that many yoga teachers do not seem to put a lot of attention or importance on alignment, when they teach a class. Since this topic is one of my yoga teachers’ main teachings and a big takeaway from my yoga teacher training, I personally put a lot of attention on this topic in all of my classes.
Now ask yourself: What is important to you? What did you learn in your yoga teacher training and what knowledge do you want to share with the world? How can you contribute to sharing and teaching the true essence of yoga?
Now, do you dare teaching your first yoga class that soon after finishing your Yoga Teacher Training?
I have played around with the idea of teaching yoga right away, i.e. 3 weeks after finishing my teacher training. I simply wanted to try it out and see if it actually appeals to me and if I would enjoy it or even like it. (As you might know, my main intention for the yoga teacher training was not to become a yoga teacher).
However, I was not sure if I was “ready“. Self-doubt was showing up. In addition, and this is my biggest pain point, I am quite inflexible. Yes, I really am.
And I had a lot of issues around that in the beginning. A LOT! I was ashamed of it. Especially now, being a newly qualified yoga teacher and all! “I can’t stand up there in front of everyone and teach yoga, even though I can’t even bend halfway forward in the seated forward bend (paschimottanasana)!” , “How would that look!”, “That’s embarrassing” I thought. Maybe you don’t have this “problem”.
But my guess is that you might not feel ready to teach yoga right away, either. Maybe you don’t like speaking in front of a group of people or you don’t know how to remember your yoga sequence without getting confused. Maybe you’re afraid of stuttering or forgetting all the important cues for a pose.
Don’t worry, doubts are completely normal. Many others, if not all, from my YTT class have not felt “ready” after our Teacher Training, either. But, does one ever feel ready? Probably not. So, what did I do?
Super Instagram Yoga Teacher from the UK to the rescue!
Since the yoga center on Gili Air had two yoga shalas, they sometimes rent the smaller one out to other yoga teachers. And here something happened, that we can call a “coincidence” (this happens quite often when traveling, and I love it!):
Suddenly, there was a small yoga retreat going on at the yoga center, alongside the normal day-to-day business. Turns out it was hosted by an external yoga teacher from the UK. It was a pretty small group. And the yoga teacher was probably pretty well known on Instagram. (So I heard, although I don’t remember how many followers she had and I certainly did not know her).
So one day, after observing her and her classes for some time, I just went up to her and started asking her a few questions. I don’t really know why, but I suddenly found myself telling her that I don’t feel ready to teach yoga and how I’m so embarrassed about being this inflexible, and that I think I need to work on myself a lot more and get a lot “better” before I could start teaching yoga.
She told me quite frankly that this was nonsense and that I should start teaching yoga as soon as possible after the Yoga Teacher Training! She was really nice and encouraged me to embrace my problem of being inflexible: “Yoga students don’t want to see a perfect yoga teacher, it’s just intimidating for them“. A good point that had never occurred to me before!
“Besides, it’s much better that you have certain things to work on, too. Because your students have that, too. So you can understand your students much better because you’ve been through the same thing, so to speak, and you can help them much better than someone who is as bendy as a pretzel” Wow. Really good point! Thanks! Talking to her gave me a LOT of encouragement. Okay, now it was decided, I am going to teach yoga! Out of the way, here I come!
Hey, how about flying to Thailand and teaching there?
After my conversation with the UK yoga teacher, I started looking for volunteering opportunities on Workaway. Meaning, I started looking for a possibility to get a gig as a yoga instructor. Yes! I was ready. And I was pretty open to the destination country.
However, I knew that I wanted to stay in Southeast Asia. While there were a few opportunities to teach yoga on a volunteering basis in Bali as well, I didn’t find anything right away and I didn’t want to wait around any longer.
I then found an option in Thailand, at a yoga center in Ao Nang (near Krabi). So I left Gili Air, although the owner of the yoga center offered me to stay longer as a volunteer. But I felt like my time had come to leave.
I then booked the flight from Denpasar via Bangkok to Krabi and spent my last days in Ubud in a nice little “resort” (luckily, I still had an Airbnb voucher so I could afford it!). Then the day came that I left the island of gods, after almost a month after my Yoga Teacher Training.
Oops, it’s rainy season here!
Indonesia is different than most other countries in Southeast Asia in terms of climate. In Bali, Indonesia, dry season lasts from April or May to approx. October. However, in most other Southeast Asian countries, including Thailand, it is rainy season in June! Oops. When I arrived at the yoga center, I was somehow not that excited.
First of all, it was not that spacious, or maybe it was the energy, I don’t know what it was really. Also, the owner wasn’t there when I arrived because she was doing some kind of additional training in Bali herself (ha!).
There were two other volunteers at the center, as well as another yoga instructor. And, the retreat center was about 3 km from the beach and I have never ridden a scooter before. Okay, I’m only here for three weeks. So, let’s try and make the best out of it!
How does volunteering work?
Volunteering gigs at Workaway are usually structured in a way that you work five hours a day (usually only five days a week, but some require six days!). In return, you at least get free accommodation (whether you get a private or a shared room or even get to stay in a dorm room varies, so choose wisely!), and usually but not always, food is also included.
However: Please note that there can be major differences when it comes to what’s included and what isn’t. I have made the experience that in Central America the food is often not included. And food is quite expensive e.g. in Costa Rica!
In my case in Thailand, breakfast was included and for lunch/dinner we received a small amount of money (which was enough to feed ourselves in Thailand, as long as you didn’t go to a restaurant by the beach, which usually charged expensive tourist prices). In addition, we had free water, and the use of the washing machine and all yoga classes were included as well (as long as the classes weren’t during your shift, of course). We could also occasionally use the scooter to drive into town or to the beach.
You can read more about my experience and tips on Workaway here.
Volunteering is a good option, because this way you get some teaching experience, travel and be in a foreign country and don’t really have any expenses. Unless you treat yourself to a smoothie on the beach (because, you know the prices on the beach are almost always super touristy).
Besides teaching 3 to 4 yoga classes a week, the job here also included cleaning the kitchen, the lounge and the yoga shala, as well as preparing breakfast. But making breakfast was super easy, like cutting fruit, making toast and smoothies.
Sometimes we would also go to the beach to hand out some flyers for the yoga classes. Since there were usually two or three volunteers staying at the yoga center at the same time, we took turns regularly and split the work (so you don’t have to clean the kitchen every day!).
Well prepared – but unpredictable difficulties ahead!
I was super well prepared for my very first every yoga class after the Yoga Teacher Training. However, I did not expect that one of the participants would have had health problems and thus, I had to completely change my very first yoga class sequence shortly before the start, because she could not do sun salutations in her condition. Great!
How did I manage? Well, I simply scratched the part with sun salutations. Oh, and also almost all other standing poses, because, you know, she also shouldn’t do any forward folds….Reeeeaaally great!
So, instead of a 90 minute class, I was done about 15 minutes early. Oops. I just didn’t know how to compensate for the missing 20 minutes, which I had to cut out of my sequence because of her. But you know what, no one really cared. So it was no big deal (I might have to mention that these were usually not public classes, but rather classes for the retreat guests and the other volunteers, who were usually long term guests and thus, they do not pay for each class separately).
And how did I feel after teaching my first yoga class ever?
Well, I was a bit torn. Because this last minute change was really unpredictable and the fact that this woman wanted to participate in the yoga class despite her condition at all costs, really took me by surprise and I didn’t have any “plan B”.
I didn’t manage to deliver a 90-minute class. So that part didn’t go perfectly. Normally, in the past, that would have been really hard for me. Because it wasn’t perfect and I “failed.”
But nowadays, I don’t see it that way anymore. Nobody but me cared that the class ended a little earlier. And everybody liked my class! That was great! Also, the second class went much, much better. So, I have established that teaching yoga was fun!
Eventually everything comes to an end
After three weeks and about 15 yoga classes that I taught at the yoga center, it was time for me to leave again. I could have stayed longer (they offered). But I just didn’t feel 100% comfortable there. Besides, I “only” had about 2,000€ left in my bank account. Which was very little money for me at that time. (I mean, being in a foreign country and not earning any income and knowing that your 2000€ is going to be gone eventually as well).
However, with that amount of money, I would have been able to continue traveling for at least one or even two months, if I had continued volunteering. But at that time (and by that I mean the person who I was back in 2018), this was too risky / unstable for me.
I mean financially, I did not feel safe. I did not trust. I did not trust in the universe or in life itself, if you know what I mean. It just worried me that I had so little money left and that made me feel uneasy. I needed security (typical German thing, “security”!). (Again, that was the 2018 version of me 🙂 )
So, what did I do next?
With a heavy heart I booked a ticket back to Germany. Today, I can no longer understand this decision. Well, actually I do understand it. But today I would do it differently. Today, I would have stayed. Or I would have traveled somewhere else. I would have trusted and known that something else would come around and everything would work out well. But, in the end, these are all lessons. And apparently that was what I needed at that time.
I remember thinking how amazing it would be to be on the road for a whole year! But from the very beginning I had planned the trip for only about three to four months, at the most.
Also, I didn’t save enough money for a whole year. Because this was my first ever backpacking trip after all. I was a complete newbie! And a bit of a chicken. And aimless. And too eager for safety. So, I flew back to Hamburg after “only” three months abroad, even though I didn’t really want to go back to Europe. But somehow, I didn’t know what else to do.
One thing I know for sure: I will be traveling again soon!
Thankfully, it was summer in Germany when I got back. And now, at least I knew that I would like to travel again. But for that I needed more money. That is why I decided to go back to Hamburg for a few months, work there and save money for my next trip. So, even before arriving in Hamburg, I had the intention to go traveling again as soon as possible!
Before I flew back, however, I treated myself to another week of vacation in Thailand. I flew from Krabi to Koh Samui and, from there I took the boat to Koh Phangan the next morning. There, I chilled a LOT, met nice people, explored the island and did yoga. The last three nights I spent in Bangkok and met a nice girl from the Netherlands, so we hung out together and went sightseeing. It was really nice.
And its amazing how many people you meet when traveling. I have come to realize that even though I am traveling by myself, I always end up spending more time with other people then by myself, to the point where I’m like “I want some alone time again!” 🙂
And then, one day in July 2018, just like that I was back “home”. Except that I didn’t have a “home”, i.e. my own apartment, in Hamburg anymore.
About 3-4 months later, it was time again: I flew to Mexico and traveled around this beautiful country as well as through Central America. And I got to teach yoga again, this time in Nicaragua!