Getting class confident

Getting class confident

How to boost your confidence as a newly-qualified teacher. By Jessica Banks aka Sat Shakti Kaur

As a newly-minted teacher, are you feeling a bit apprehensive? Unsure of your readiness to take on a class? You’re not alone. It’s common for new teachers to feel a bit short on confidence. But probably you’ve got more to offer than you realise. And there are some things you can do to help you boost your confidence.

Getting started, you might need to adjust your expectations. The teachers who trained you, those you most admire, likely have decades of experience under their belt. They have an ease on the teacher’s platform, a broad knowledge base, and charisma that’s hard to emulate when you’re just coming out of teacher training. Don’t even try. Instead, be you. You have your own strengths, your own perspective. Accept your innocence as an asset. (More on this in a moment!)

When you’re freshly certified to teach, you may not feel fully qualified. This is normal. Teacher training is just part of your journey with yoga. It can be a lifelong journey and you have the opportunity to keep learning for the duration. There's no point where you’ll have learned all the things there are to learn about yoga and subsequently feel ready to teach. So just jump in and get started. You’ll continue to learn as you teach.

Students will play a role in your growth as a teacher. You’ll develop your teaching vocabulary – like what cues they respond to – through trial and error in class.

There’s nothing like a whole class moving in the wrong direction to highlight that you’ve muddled your words. Don’t sweat it. As you go, you'll find certain words and phrases work better than others. Each time you teach, the words will flow more easily.

There will be times students ask questions about the practice that you can’t answer. Be honest. You can point them to possible sources for more information or you can do the research yourself and follow up with an answer later on. Either way, you can take the opportunity to explore the subject. The next time someone asks that question, you'll be prepared.

Every body is different. Be alert to how the students move through space. You'll gain insight just by watching them.

Unintentional mistakes will happen. Accept them as part of the teaching experience and, more importantly, learn from them. You'll give instructions in a convoluted way, you'll mix up your words, you'll forget a sequence. Don’t worry! You’ll be in good company: there’s not a teacher who hasn’t done these things. Each hiccup you have is an opportunity for refinement.

Teaching is a form of public speaking. The bad news is that you can’t avoid speaking in your classes. The good news is that there are no special skills required to do it. Get started, keep it simple and focus on the yoga. You don’t need to tell stories, you don’t need to entertain. Guide students safely into and out of postures and they’ll have a good experience.

Each class you teach will develop you as a teacher. But practice at home too. The more you prepare to teach a class, the easier it will be to deliver. Go through the postures. Internalise the physical practice, so your body knows what to do when you step up to the mat to lead class. As you go through the postures at home, practice giving the instructions out loud. Your body may be 100% clear on what you intend to teach. You may have words lined up in your head. But unless you’ve said them out loud, you can’t be sure what will actually come out of your mouth.

The more you teach, the more experience you accumulate, the more you’ll have to offer students in your classes. But you have plenty to share when you’re starting out.

You’re probably teaching, or considering teacher training, because you have a great love for yoga. Likely, it's impacted you in some profound way. You have an innocence and enthusiasm that will shine through and inspire students in your classes.

While what you're offering may not be new (there’s no shortage of yoga classes), how you deliver it is. Some teachers are down to earth, some have humour, some have a commanding presence, some are understated. Your attitude towards the practice, your reasons for teaching, will frame your delivery. And there are students out there who will most resonate with what you have to say and how you say it.

As you progress on the yogic path, your teaching style may shift. Always be true to you. Be open, honest, earnest. You have distinct gifts, a unique perspective, your own voice. You have value. When you teach, just be you.

Jessica Banks aka Sat Shakti Kaur is the founder of JOY Yoga (

Om Magazine

First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.