Meet the mentor
Why personal support is vital for yoga teachers. By Melissa Albarran
Back in August 2021, Yoga Alliance Professionals conducted a survey with its 8,000-plus yoga teachers to gain insight into their further training needs and preferences. Of all the results, the figure that most stood out was the 88% of yoga teachers who were interested in receiving mentoring.
It makes sense. Most qualified yoga teachers complete a 200-hour (or so) foundation course to be trained in the basics of teaching yoga. After that, you’re pretty much on your own. A mentor offers a personalised, tailored form of tuition that is often lacking in the yoga teaching community.
To get an insight into this new yoga trend, we spoke to a yoga coach registered with Yoga Alliance Professionals about what mentorship for yoga teachers entails, and why it is growing in popularity.
Dawn Wright is the founder of Yoga Business Mentor, with over a decade of experience teaching, training and coaching yoga teachers. Inspired by the mentors she learnt from as a new teacher, she provides coaching to yoga instructors who lack the confidence and know-how to fulfil their ambitions and progress in their careers.
When asked why mentor relationships are beneficial for yogis, she points to the fact that the vast majority of yoga teachers are self-employed. “This can lead to feelings of isolation as you don’t have anyone in your industry to turn to. Connection to someone who knows the yoga world and who can be your support and sounding board is invaluable, not just as a new yoga teacher but also as your career progresses and you want to grow your business, skills and offerings in new directions.”
However, she makes it clear that a mentor is not there to tell you what to do. Rather, they should guide and support the individual in making decisions. “A mentor can give advice, they can help you see the options you have more clearly, help you make difficult decisions and hold you accountable to taking action.”
In this way, mentors empower and inspire their students to step up and take responsibility for their careers. “I always see big changes in my mentees’ confidence and self-belief. This leads them to grow their business in ways that they are passionate about and often doing things that they never thought possible to achieve so quickly.”
For Wright, the mounting interest in coaching and mentoring among yoga teachers is due to changes in the industry and the professionalisation of yoga teaching. “More teachers now want their yoga career to be either their entire income source or a big part of it, so being professional and growing a successful business is important. There is also so much more we need to contend with now that isn’t just about teaching skills — marketing, accounts, social media, professionalism, insurance, GDPR — the list could go on!”
As teachers attempt to navigate the ever-evolving nature of yoga teaching, that personalised support is invaluable. “It can be very powerful to feel like someone is your champion, and wants you to succeed and grow and much as you do.”
Melissa Albarran for Yoga Alliance Professionals (yogaallianceprofessionals.org)
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.