When you teach anything, whether it be aerobics or physics, you possess the library of information that will be shared with your students. It is data you have earned, as an instructor, that’s been passed on from your own teachers, and taught your way. In your voice. You physically, mentally, and emotionally, need to be there for your students, even if you’re filming your class for those at home.
In fact, New York City yoga teacher and influencer Elena Brower (@elenabrower) remarks often in her posts how hesitant she was as she wondered how yoga would translate across a digital platform. Turns out she is increasingly grateful for the experience and how it deepened her teaching practice. It allowed her to connect to her students in a whole new way, by staying grounded in her authenticity.
We share what we do to and with the world. Our accomplishments and expertise, our happy memories and our schedules. Self-promotion, even in the spirit of celebration is paramount for anyone who has a social media account. Otherwise, why have one, right? Our lives are now so carefully curated we can feel more alone and isolated than ever. So we must remember that we, and everyone else out there, is only going to show what makes them look the most together, happy, and dare I assume, authentic. In our waking life (away from the dream of alphanumeric realities) if we look inward instead of keeping up with the digital Joneses, we will cease to scrutinize our own lives and accomplishments. Instead the practice is and always will be expressing gratitude for the here and now. Someone inspirational said that gratitude turns everything you have into enough, and more. Your presence, fully and completely, is enough.
We can agree that anything online is not necessarily indicative of real life, even though we may want to believe it is an extension of it. But is a false light of life. The word ‘media’ is even in the description of this world that lives in our phones. Yet, some bright-eyed hopeful, post-millennial trendsetters definitely (probably) believe it is the gateway to creating their own brand, or ‘empire’ as it’s cheekily called. When did followers equate to fans instead of people you just knew in life? And what about these emperors made labels and advertisers begin to drool at the prospect of people advertising a way of life to sell stuff we don’t need in a society where hoarding is a disease?
What do the people who want to influence really want? To be at the top of their own pyramid in their chosen field. And, if we’re being honest with ourselves, a part of us must listen, if only to ask why, and see our own shadows of success reflected in their contoured faces. After all, most of them are the product of a technological boom that saw every toddler with a camera in their face before a book, or even another human being.
But whether we use social media to promote ourselves as yoga educators, we must remember our motivation for becoming teachers in the first place. We may receive ‘likes’ or increased attendance in our classes, or validation on our shared thought processes that contain the seedlings of other business ideas, (and the occasional discount on some cute but overpriced yoga pants) but there is one thing we are also striving for, that the shadow of the false yoga mogul’s dig out of us. It is the desire that we must have in common with the truly joyful educators with a meaningful message, if we are committed to sharing a message that is meaningful to us: authenticity. For in that word is the legitimacy so many crave, the proof that the path is a true one.
The idea is pretty ironic, though, considering social media, as I’ve said, is a digitally curated identity arranged, in Freudian terms, by your own ego. We are taught every time the word ego is mentioned, that it is fear talking—the projection of the desired self-image onto anyone who clicks “follow” on any page you have. In the ego’s ideal scenario, when we think we have transcended more earthly wants what we are really giving into is a codependency sparked by the joy of being led, of relinquishing responsibility for our own lives. Next time you are shy about sharing your world and your thoughts, or your yoga/spiritual journey, or have been wasting the evening ‘investigating’ fellow instructors, consider it an interesting exercise in self-observation. You can even explore online platforms to increase your chances of teaching remotely, or through videos. You’ll learn YouTube, at the very least. So it’s nice to have a plan to springboard off your friends and following while you experiment.
And just post it. As you watch yourself grow, you’ll be able to see the teacher you are becoming, as well as the teacher you want to be.
Being a yoga teacher can afford an individual a life slightly off the beaten path, no matter how corporate the environment they teach in is. That is part of the joy of the profession–the connection, the sharing of accumulated knowledge, and the constantly percolating business savvy that lies in each of us. Part of the reason many instructors get into teaching yoga is because there are so many opportunities to bounce around and teach a multitude of people all the cool and hopefully healing stuff we’ve learned in training.
Exposure, in this case, becomes an ally to authenticity. And, no I do not mean taking scantily clad photos of yourself doing yoga in a bikini on a glamorous beach and hoping your high school crush sees it. However, giving your students a way to connect with you and your lifestyle, if that indeed is something you want to share, is a way to share aspects of your authentic self, even the insecure bits, and create buzz about your teaching style. This makes it easier for your students to see you as a human being, and that will, many times, bring them back to your class. I’ve also found making announcements to remind them about your ideas and the various places and spaces you teach in to be incredibly important to connecting to the people you see every week. Or once in a while.
The practice of yoga attracts every walk of life for countless reasons. With that comes all kinds of teachers, each with a singular flavor. Some want to make yoga accessible to everyone and focus on the adaptability and recovery in poses and sequences, while others incorporate classical tradition into their practice with mantras, chanting, and meditation. There are the soothers and the sweaters, the kundalini warriors and kinesthetic yoga therapists. Some have yearly retreats in Bali and others teach from a spare room in their own homes. Some are former ballerinas. Others are aspiring attorneys. All have a profound effect on the students that come into their space, with any luck, imparting new insight and awareness of the body and mind, and at the very least, sometimes, a pretty decent workout. And it all begins with you, the teacher, and the energy you bring, on and off line, which can spread the authenticity movement across the globe, one yogi at a time.
Whether you are a new teacher or an experienced teacher, there is a likelihood that you will want to seek new teaching opportunities from time to time. Namafit is the perfect tool for finding teaching opportunities near you. You can learn more about what Namafit has to offer and how to get started here