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Yogini Stylin + Geeky Virgo Post-it Notes

Today I was wasting precious morning moments on Facebook.  (Yes, it’s a time sucker, but it’s also an integral part of growing your business, and this social media junkie loves it).  I  am a member of a ton of Facebook Groups (probably too many) but I am pretty active in a couple of yoga ones. Some I use for networking + marketing, some I use for masterminding + collaboration and some I use for learning + continued education.  Today in one of my Yoga Mastermind groups a fellow yogini asked:

What about you sets you apart from other yogis? What do you do/not do, think/not, or feel/not that is less than typical? Anything? ((Here’s a lighthearted one from me, just to provide an example: I do very few -if any at all- sun salutes in my personal practice.))

It really got me thinking – what about me makes me different?

So I made a little list in my head. (Ok. I lied. I actually wrote out the on pen + post it. I am a Virgo and we do this a lot, lists + organization is a turn on.  We’re weird, but you couldn’t live without us. You’re lucky I didn’t color code the post-it!)

Virgos dig lists + post-its
Virgos dig lists + post-its
  • I don’t look like most yoga teachers.
  • Most of my yoga is practiced off the mat.
  • I  am influenced by many but don’t subscribe to any one guru’s philosophy.
  • I am influenced by many but don’t practice any one style (ie Bikram, Ashtanga, Kripalu, Jivamukti) I’ve developed,  practice and teach my own style, Darshana Yoga.
  • Music and intuition are integral to my style of asana practice at home and in studio.
  • I am a little silly, a little organized, and usually more sassy than fluffy.
  • I am touchy-feely. You will receive multiple hands-on adjustments, massage and pressure points in my class (if you don’t object).
  • I teach classes to evoke emotion and hopefully transformation. You’re not coming to church when you attend my classes, but you’re definitely getting more than just a little exercise, breathing and stretching.

Then I responded:

As far as my studio teaching is concerned, I don’t look like your average teacher.  I am known for my very non-yogic, quirky play lists (ie: Tribe Called Quest followed by Tony Bennett), tailoring my classes to musical themes (ie: all song about sunshine in a solstice class, all songs with the word “heart” in a valentines day class etc.) and mixing Yin style of sinking into postures with Soul Sweat . It’s really all about connecting the breath + movement with the music whether it’s upbeat or mellow – to create transformation of some kind for me. I spend a LOT of time on play lists. If the music changes, I may just have you SINK into virabhadrasana ii for 10 even 20 counts. And nope. I am not a trained dancer.

 How the heck did I develop my style of teaching? Why do students try my classes? And why do they come back? It all boils down to one thing, personality.  I bring my authentic personality to everything I do whether it’s teaching yoga, negotiating a contract or running a business. Who you are is essential to your success. We can certainly ‘fake it until we make it’ but we cant pretend to be someone we’re not.  Developing your voice as a teacher is the essence of what attracts students to your class.

(knowing WTF you’re doing and keeping students safe is also a bonus)

If you’re a new teacher or even a seasoned teacher that is struggling with class numbers, take a look at how you live your life and interact with people (friends + family) off the mat. Is it drastically different than how you teach (and speak) on the mat?  Why? How can you take your yoga off the mat and what can you do to infuse your on the mat with your off the mat personality? Your students want to be guided in an authentic way. They will see straight through you if you rely on the personality or words of someone else (or even your own favorite teacher).

Find your Inner-Superstar
Find your Inner-Superstar

Developing the signature style of your voice isn’t quite as easy as it seems. Teaching metaphors are an art form.  Developing them takes practice.  I’ve heard a few teachers of a certain style of yoga use  “puff your kidneys” and “blossom your buttocks.”  Seriously. I snorted typing that last one, do you think I could personally get away with using it in class? NEVER. I’d end up in a fit of laughter or go off on a 5 minute tangent about my flowering asshole. (We all know I secretly have the sense of humor of a 14 year old boy). Totes not cool.

The point is, that language wouldn’t be authentic to me. I didn’t come up with the metaphor. I can’t really relate to puffing my kidneys (they filter, they don’t breathe!) and I would never use the word buttocks.  Yeah Dave wouldn’t have the following he does if he didnt gush about how much he loves chocolate + wine and every so often craves a Parliament Light after a few cocktails. Can you imagine Snatam Kaur talking about wanting a smoke ever in this lifetime, let alone after a few cocktails?  Preposterous! Think about, connect with and develop your own yoga script. Use imagery, descriptive words and music that you’re comfortable with.

Just be you.

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21 thoughts on “Yogini Stylin + Geeky Virgo Post-it Notes

  1. As a student, I’ve always been drawn to the teachers that are authentically themselves- along with a side of playfulness. 🙂 As a teacher, I can’t help but let my dorkiness shine through. Lovely post!

  2. How much do I love it that a post I wrote prompted -not just a comment- but a whole blogpost! And one speaking an authentic lingo! In my mentoring I’ve come to repeat: “get out of the yoga ghetto! it’s just holding you back” The yoga ghetto: a blissed-out, soft, sweet, always positive, never angry, never rebellious, green juice saturated ghetto. (We love bliss, juice & positivity- BUT they aren’t badges.) Yogis can find yoga in everything, not just the yoga. Explore. Take risks. Be wrong. Like you say, Terra, practice off the mat. Great post!! I’m charged by the energy you pour out here because it’s an invitation to real empowerment.

  3. Great post Tarra! This is something I’m currently working on now with starting to display my art publicly. In keeping with authenticity, i try to write like i’m talking to one of my friends when it comes to my art and photography, and hopefully my personality will come through in the writing Thanks for sharing!.

    1. Thanks, Aimelie!
      To be honest, sometimes I struggle with my voice on this blog. Half of me (the lawyer half) has this incessant need to be 100% professional, 100% of the time with perfect grammar and perfect to-do lists. The other half of me tells the lawyer to STFU and just be me – the me that I am off the clock. 100% real and 100% authentic. Most of the time the true me wins out 🙂

  4. Some great tips and advice here Terra, a very thought provoking post! I’m not a yoga teacher but what you’ve shared is very relevant to all of us with our own business who want and need to infuse more of our own personality into it. When the service we provide is very dependent on what “we” bring that nobody else does, authenticity is key. Thanks for this.
    PS: You sound like my kind of yoga teacher! 😉

  5. Great Post! I’ve only been a yoga teacher for a few months now and my confidence tends to waiver. So when no one showed up to my class yesterday afternoon, I really started to get in my head about why no one showed up (they were probably enjoying a sunny Sunday afternoon). This post was good for me to read today. (and inspired an article idea of my own as well) Thanks!

  6. YAY! So glad I inspired an article idea!!

    I used to teach a rise and shine, 6:15am class on T/TH. You don’t even want to know how many times people didn’t show up. Half the time it just turned into “Terra’s personal practice hour” If I had taken it personally, it would have eviscerated my confidence!!!

    For a long time I thought it was only the responsibility of the teacher to get and keep bodies in the class. But it’s not, the studio has a large responsibility and so do the students!! Some are dedicated and will always show up and some are just totally effing lazy and will only show up when the stars are just perfectly aligned. Keep developing your own personality/style and when you’re comfortable enough, actually ask your students what they like, what they do not and how you can improve. I promise they will respond with love. 🙂

  7. Ahh, that was a refreshing (and humorous) read. Yeah, I would definitely add humor to your list of what sets you apart – and I’ve never even taken a class with you- but I bet you’d having me laughing on the mat. 🙂 I love that. I love when people are just honest and real about their experiences. I’m studying at the Breathing Project, and they are very adamant about dissecting “yoga teacher-isms” and now when I take classes I can’t help but notice ALL the blossoming buttocks type of instructions. Ha!

    1. Thanks, Elyse! I never thought of myself as “the funny one” but I am definitely fan of laughing, giggling and being silly, which I totally take onto the mat. I am certainly not a “stuffy” yoga teacher. There are so many yoga teacher-isms out there that are simply horrific!

      I LOVE that you’re studying with Leslie Kaminoff! I have never studied personally with him, but his Yoga Anatomy book was my bible during my first teacher training and I am a big fan of his Youtube channel! Are you in the Yoga Educator Program? I drool over that monthly!! HAHA

  8. I wanna take your class!!! I love how you’ve created something that’s yours from so many different sources. There can be a very dogmatic approach to yoga sometimes which always makes me want to run in the other direction. Your blended approach sounds so fun!

    Great advice – not just for yoga teachers. Anytime you can tap in to your true voice you’re winning, as “they” say. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Andrea!
      It’s the whole scanner in me that can’t commit to just one yogic style. I want to know, take and love them all (mostly anyway). 🙂

  9. Hey Terra, I loved reading your post – you sound like my kinda yoga teacher! lol. Seriously though, authenticity is the key and we should make it regular practice to reflect on our own signature style and be proud of it! Thanks for the inspiration 🙂

  10. Yes! Finding your own voice as a teacher is crucial. The students want you because you’re you, not someone else… Whenever students learning to teach ask me how I can bring the philosophy in so quickly and easily I tell them its because I’m having those same conversations off the mat, too. I think you nailed it on the head saying “How can you take your yoga off the mat and what can you do to infuse your on the mat with your off the mat personality? Your students want to be guided in an authentic way.” Great stuff!

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