What they did not teach you in a yoga training

Yoga teacher training is full of dedicated yogis who may not be serious about becoming a yoga teacher, but they do have a keen interest in yoga. It is a perfect world where we are open to exploration and willing to soak in all aspects of yoga or at least tolerate them. 

The reality, however, is different. Teaching a regular yoga class is far different from teaching your fellow yogis or assisting an established teacher who already has a following. There are a few things that no one will teach you at a teacher training. 

1 / Practice a radical acceptance

You have to accept your students for who they are. Let's be honest. Students come to yoga for reasons that you, as a yoga teacher, do not find particularly interesting. They may not care about deep breathing or a mind-bod connection. They want to have a hot butt. Welcome them anyway. 

2 / Build a rapport before anything else

Students have to like you before they allow you to give them individualized attention, hands-on assists, or any injury insight. They come to classes shielded. They won't volunteer their injury history if they do not know you. They do not want you to touch them if they do not know you. They do not want you to 'correct' them if the do not like you. Teach the class, not the individual, build rapport and trust. Then you can step into their personal zone. 

3 /  Be likable as a group leader

Your classes are built on your likability, not your knowledge. If you ask your friend why she takes the particular yoga teacher's classes, she will tell you because she likes the teacher, not because the teacher is knowledgeable about yoga. I have known yoga teachers who had the most in-depth knowledge about yoga and barely filled up classes and I have known yoga teachers who just graduated from a basic yoga training and become instantly popular because they were confident, funny and friendly. Yoga trainings do not teach you these qualities. 

4 / Students want to get their ass kicked, but not really

The people in front of you are people who feel not good enough, inadequate, intimidated. They were raised to be competitive. They are self-critical and self-judgemental. They want to get their ass kicked by doing a bunch of lunges and sweating. They do not want to face their fears. They do not want to sit down and watch you teaching them an arm balance or inversion. They want to keep moving. They do not want anyone in the class see that they cannot do a pose. You as a yoga teacher need to tackle insecurities first. You can do it with humor or giving them poses that they can do easily.






take pride in your work

by Poornima @femgineer

We tend to shy away from promoting ourselves and the work we do, because we're afraid people will think we're bragging. 

I’m spending the first half of this week in NYC, promoting the launch of my upcoming book: How to Transform Your Ideas into Software Products. Then I’ll head back to California to prepare for it’s launch. I’m so excited that it’s only 1-week away!

After one of my talks here, a young woman named Sandy came up to me, she thanked me for coming out, and then she said, “I’m really struggling with the concept of self-promotion. I see you do it, and it doesn’t seem slimy or salesy, it looks natural, and it’s helpful to others. But I always feel strange when I talk about myself or my work. I guess I just don’t like being put on the spot.” 

So then I asked Sandy, why she felt like when I did it, it didn’t feel slimy or salesy? Sandy responded, “It really just seems like you’re super passionate about the topic, and want to see others do well and succeed. You’re sharing your strategies, and we are eager to know what they are!” 


Sandy basically answered her own concern: it’s because I’m passionate about the work that I do. If I wasn’t then I’d sound disingenuous and people wouldn’t take me seriously. 

Sandy also followed up and said, “I am really passionate about the work I do, but I’m just not sure how to showcase it without sounding like I'm bragging.” 

Aside from passion, the other key element to being comfortable enough to showcase your work, is be able to take pride in it. 

Pride is a touchy subject  

Most people, including Sandy and myself have been taught to be humble, while pride is equated with being a braggart. So instead of taking pride, they may acknowledge their limitations any chance they get or be self-deprecating. 

It’s OK to acknowledge our limitations, but we also need to be comfortable speaking about what we’re particularly good at, because who we work with or for, wants to know that we’re competent! Eventually they’ll realize it by seeing the work we do, but initially we have to tell them that we are by sharing with them the work we’ve done before and the positive outcomes that resulted from it. 

I know as I say this you might still feel like you’re not good at anything. If that is indeed the case then you need to ask yourself:  

  • Is it because I’m just getting started, and battling the learning curve?

  • Am I comparing myself to the level that someone else is at?

  • Do I feel like my work needs to be perfect in order to be proud of it?

  • Do I feel like it’s just not novel enough? 

It’s only natural to have these feelings. But know that you’ll always be learning, and there maybe someone who is just a little bit better than you (and the good news is you can learn from them).  

Battling perfection and novelty 

Right before my book went out to print, I combed it for typos several times! My editor did as well. When I received the final copy I handed it to my boyfriend, and within 1-minute he spotted a typo (sigh). 

I was annoyed, but I realized there was nothing I could do. 300 copies were being printed, I’d deal with it, and fix it in a future run! 

I also realized that one tiny typo wasn’t going to stand in the way of me taking pride in the months of work I had put in to create the book.  

Then there’s novelty… We think of innovation as making a breakthrough or discovering something new, but the Merriam Webster’s defines innovation as the following: in technology, an improvement to something existing. 

This definition can be applied to other fields as well. Innovating is introducing a change. We don’t always have to be coming up with something brand new to be proud of the work we do. 

Now I want to know what work you’ve done recently that you are really proud of? Just hit reply to this email and let me know!





Why yoga teachers have to consider work balance. Take it seriously.

I had dinner with a fellow yoga colleague who quit his full-time job and has been teaching yoga full-time before he finds a new 9-5 job. He shared with me that he has been exhausted and I completely sympathized with him. Teaching yoga can be as rewarding as exhausting. The nature of the field makes is deceiving that teaching is relaxing and fun, which is true, but there is more to this job. Students often fall in love with yoga and decide to become yoga teachers just to find out that they are so exhausted teaching. When they finally squeeze in time to practice, they want to do restorative yoga. Their passion may override the realistic view of the job. I was guilty of the same mistakes. Do not get me wrong. 

There  are a few things to consider
1. You are dealing with people, the group dynamics and individual energies. Do you know how to handle them? Can you preserve your energy when you serve others? 
2. You are on your feet all day and transferring yourself from one place to another. Do you give yourself enough time to commute? 
3. You work early in the morning and late in the evening. You work when your friends and family do not. Are you ready for this work shift? 
4. The actual class is only a peak of your work. Did you consider the time before and after the class, your commute and preparation time? 

You are not hiding behind a computer when at work. You are in front of people who come to you to recharge and refresh and amuse them at least. Give your schedule a thought. "Just as a sagging sail tells a sailor to tack and realign with the energy of the wind, a drop in our mental or physical energy within an action is a sign we need to realign our course." Shiva Rea.



Would you take a yoga class for ice cream?

Waiting for the class to begin, I am sitting on my yoga mat and scrolling down through my messages on my iPhone. A guy next to me starts talking to me. He has a Tough Mudder T-shirt on and keeps telling me about his athletic endeavors. I listen to him for a while and then ask him, "How did you get into yoga?" He responds, "My friends told me that if I take this teacher's yoga class, I'll get ice cream. I went and have been coming every week. I was actually surprised how much I enjoy yoga."  

I am did not ask him whether he actually got him ice cream, but it looked like he will be coming back for more yoga. Would you take a yoga class for ice cream? 



Worksite Wellness & Yoga - Case Studies



Sacred Heart has long understood the value of keeping their teachers and staff healthy. They were early adopters of employee wellness programs. However, when their corporate wellness solution failed to sufficiently engage employees, Sacred Heart decided it needed to change their approach for improving employee health and wellness and opted to bring a fitness program on campus. An onsite class was both convenient and gave employees a very tangible way to take another step in improving their health. The challenge was to figure out exactly what kind of program would be suitable for all employees and where to find a highly qualified instructor.


We provided a fully customized 12-week circuit training program based on Sacred Heart’s unique needs. The solution included:

"Silvie and I have worked together to create a Wellness Program for my company. She has been enthusiastic, knowledgeable and resourceful in suggesting ways to motivate my employees and get them healthy. Silvie provided other trainers for us who have conducted boot camps and circuit training which was very well received by my employees. In addition to coordinating our wellness program she has been teaching Yoga here for three years and she is loved by her class for her ability to connect individually with each student, getting to know their strengths and weaknesses and tailoring the class to their needs. I highly recommend Silvie" Juli Devincenzi, HR Director


  • Identifying a highly qualified instructor from our extensive network

  • Managing employee communication and reminders via email and SMS

  • Tracking and verifying participation for employees to earn rewards

  • Surveying participants to understand what types of programs they were most interested in and adjusting class content to ensure high employee satisfaction


    Because of the convenience and quality of instruction of our program, employee participation was extremely high, with approximately 66% of available spaces being filled every week. Employees noted that they liked the variety of exercises taught by our  instructor. Employee survey results showed that having our program onsite made employees feel more connected to their coworkers and workplace, believe their employer cared about their health, and would strongly recommend the program to their peers when school starts again in the fall.

    “I am so grateful to have onsite classes at our workplace. It makes it so convenient to be a part of these classes and hard to make excuses not to go! It has been fun getting to know my colleagues in a completely different way while exercising together.” -Yasmin, Sacred Heart Schools 

"Silvie and I have worked together to create a Wellness Program for my company. She has been enthusiastic, knowledgeable and resourceful in suggesting ways to motivate my employees and get them healthy. Silvie provided other trainers for us who have conducted boot camps and circuit training which was very well received by my employees. In addition to coordinating our wellness program she has been teaching Yoga here for three years and she is loved by her class for her ability to connect individually with each student, getting to know their strengths and weaknesses and tailoring the class to their needs. I highly recommend Silvie" Juli Devincenzi, HR Director



As an employer with a well-established physical fitness- oriented wellness program, MacCorkle was interested in trying out some other wellness offerings. However, figuring out what else could be added was not obvious. In partnership with MacCorkle’s Wellness Committee, we created a program focused on reducing stress and improving mental health through mindfulness training.


We provided a fully customized 4-week onsite meditation program based on MacCorkle’s unique needs. The solution included:

  • Surveying participants to understand what types of programs they were most interested in and customizing class content to ensure high employee satisfaction

  • Identifying a highly qualified instructor from our extensive network

  • Producing an audio recording of short meditations that could be used between classes


    Because of the convenience of our program, employee turnout for the class was high, averaging approximately 20% of the total employee population. The regular participation in the class was attributed to employees being interested in learning how meditation can reduce stress and having time carved out specifically to relax from their hectic day. Based on the post-class survey results, employees cited that they felt that their workplace was more enjoyable, that their employer cared about their health, and would strongly recommend the program to their peers.

    “A meditation series for our employees that was a huge success. Rebecca was our instructor and she did an outstanding job in helping all of still the mind, let go of stress and re-focus on what really matters. Everyone who attended Rebecca’s sessions left feeling invigorated and perhaps more importantly walked away with tools that Rebecca taught us to help us reduce stress any time of the day. Based on our personal experience we highly recommend the wellness team for you and your wellness program.” – Bernard Lauper, CEO, MacCorkle Insurance 



Why people take your class?

I once read that being yoga teacher is like being a DJ and I think the comparison is very close. 

Regardless, people come to your class because of you. Your personality and energy become the mover. They come back because the way you make them feel. Your self-confidence and self-love that are conveyed through your voice, pace, and humanity are your tools. Your acceptance of your students imperfections will make them feel included and come back. 



Types of yoga teachers

1 / The healer 

The class starts with a problem. The teacher may start with healing trauma or lower back. You take the class because you feel like crap and want to do something about it. Yoga is inherently positive so you should come out feeling better, if not different for the better. Music in this class is completely irrelevant. You may be sweating a lot or not at all. It depends if you deal with a 'shaman' or 'physical therapist'. 

Why should you take a class with a healer? Because you have a problem and you want to solve it. It is quite impossible to enjoy life in general if you are in pain. 

2 / The educator 

The class starts with physical or alignment focus.  This class feels more like an anatomy class, but it is more fun because you get to move and touch yourself, appropriately of course. You will learn proper alignment and may get little obsessive about it in your practice and in your teachings. You should walk out of the class more knowledgeable. Knowledge is power. 

Why should you take a class with an educator? Do you want to know everything about psoas, how it affects your life and what poses alleviate weak/tight psoas? Then take this class. 

3 / The joker 

The music is loud. You are sweating like crazy, barely catching your breath and barely catching the instructions too. BUT it is so fun to be there. Alignment and spirituality are out of the window, but the music is great. This class is a great stress buster. It fits great into your 9-5 life and not surprisingly enough, it is scheduled right after your work. 

Why you should take this class? When you want to forget about your work, wife, husband and whatever. You just want to be entertained and have fun. 

4 / The experience designer 

You walk out of the class transformed. The sequence is varied, but not detailed. The pace is medium; you do not have time to space out, but you do have time to take a deep breath. Spirituality is definitely involved, it gets heavy at the beginning, but light at the end. Music is spiritual and electronic to throw your mind into a different dimension. You will walk out with some sort of message about life. 

Why should you take this class? Because life is worth living and this is a proof. You will feel like you just went on a great trip, visited museum, or ate at a fantastic restaurant. 

5 / The politically correct Vinyasa girl 

You may not chant OM because she does want to offend your belief system. You will get a well-rounded practice that is not too boring nor too intense. You go to the class because you get a great workout. The teacher is just so nice. She may not be funny or engaging, but she wants you to take care of yourself. She did gymnastics as a child, studied dance or psychology or marketing at college and teaching yoga just feels like a natural extension of her dancing career. 

Why should you take this class? If you do not want to ponder about the meaning of chants, Indian Goddesses, complicated or detailed poses, then take this class. It does not rock the boat, but it still makes you feel great. 



When English is your second language and you want to teach yoga

I fell in love with yoga immediately. There was no turning back. Yoga was hard, challenging, and beautiful enough for me to stick around. Sometimes I did not understand the teacher and sometimes the teacher did not understand me. English is my second language. When my friend suggested that I teach yoga, I could not even imagine leading a class in a foreign language to the natives.

I spent days learning instructions. I was lucky that my passion overrode my frustrations. One day I found myself standing in front of yoga students. I was nervous and wanted to run away, but it was too late. I was there and I had to show up. 

Public speaking exposes us. We are in a vulnerable position. The feedback is always a mixed bag of love, admiration, apathy, and criticism. So it came quickly, "We can't hear you. We can't understand you. They can't understand you." I will be honest and say that it hurt. Nervousness, which is normal when we do something new, makes us feel smaller and weakens our voice, command, and authority. Coupled with an accent, teaching can become frustrating on both ends. I did not want to quit something that I loved so much so I had to get up to speed quickly. I learned that you have to speak louder and slower than your native fellow teachers. I mean significantly louder and slower. 

Fact: as a person with an accent you WILL be perceived as someone with less credibility. People do not want be mean; it is human nature. Accent is interference and you will be perceived as less trustworthy than your fellow Americans regardless of our expertise and greatness. Read more here.

People do not realize that they judge your expertise and likability on your accent. There is not much you can do to change this perception, but you can control your behavior. You have to prove them and show them other qualities to make up for this deficit - be funny, be at ease with yourself, give them great adjustments, take an interest in them. You just have to connect with them differently. 

It may take a while for you to build your audience. Be patient and trust that your passion will show through different channels. Your accent will improve over time. 





Talking vs. Instructing

Simplicity is the key. There are 4 steps to the process:

You say a cue and inhale. 
Your students hear it.
Your students mentally process it.
Your students perform it.
It may feel to you like eternity, but give some time for these 4 steps to happen. Say a cue and take a deep inhalation. No rush.

"Handstand is a really fun pose, you guys. It's really stimulating. I don't even need to drink coffee after doing handstands."  Your students may have a completely different, if not the opposite, experience. You are not in their bodies. You do not know how the pose feels to them physically and emotionally. Watch them and respond to their needs. 

Ask your students how was their week and listen to their stories. Unless there is a particular reason that is tied to your lesson, your students do not care that you spent the whole weekend at Harmony Festival. 

Music is powerful. Are you intentional with your music? Does it compliment your message? Playing the latest hits or the best emerging trends may be cool, but is it fulfilling the purpose of the class?