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!)
- 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).
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.