by Julie Pate, Certified YogaKids Teacher
Teaching yoga has many rewards, but it can be lonely at times if you haven’t yet cultivated a supportive community. Many YogaKids Teachers travel from studio to studio. We’re usually the only adult in the room and, while teaching in schools, we are usually the only yoga teacher on staff. Having a community of support is vital for a teacher’s continued growth and success.
RESEARCH ON CONNECTIONS
When we make a positive social connection, the pleasure-inducing hormone oxytocin is released into our bloodstream, immediately reducing anxiety and improving concentration and focus. In a study appropriately titled “Very Happy people,” researches sought out the characteristics of the happiest 10% among us. There was one characteristic that distinguished the happiest 10% from everybody else; the strength of their social relationships. Social support was a far greater predictor of happiness than any other factor — more than income, job status, age gender, or race.
BENEFITS OF BEING PART OF A LIKE-MINDED COMMUNITY OF YOGA TEACHERS
- You can share lesson or class plans.
- You can share teaching skills and current research in the field of yoga.
- You can offer support if you are trying something new and out of your comfort zone, such as teaching a new demographic or breaking into a new location or market.
- You can offer business support on such topics as pricing, insurance requirements and marketing.
- You can substitute for each other’s classes.
- You can be referred to new teaching opportunities and help promote one another.
In the YogaKids community, we have a very active Teachers Forum where teachers from all over the world come together and enrich, motivate, and inspire each other. For instance, Clare, a teacher from New Jersey just logged on and asked for classroom management ideas for her active class of preschoolers. Within 24 hours, she had 8 responses from yoga teachers, classroom teachers and even a therapist. Clare could not have researched this topic and gotten better information. What can you do in your area to cultivate a connection similar to the YogaKids support system? You can join LinkedIn, or start a private Facebook forum and ask yoga teachers to join.
HOST A TEACHERS CLASS
Teach a class specifically for teachers and invite other yogis. Share your expertise, training and enthusiasm for yoga. Ask a different teacher to present different topics of interest to the group at each meeting.
Plan inspirational social outings. Recently, a group of YogaKids teachers met up in Chicago and enjoyed a vegetarian meal followed by a Kirtan (chanting hymns or mantras to the accompaniment of instruments). Being around like-minded people offers a fresh perspective on life and livelihood. Other social events our Chicago group has attended include gong healings, arco yoga workshops, and spa nights. Host an event, invite all the Yogis you know, and pass the coordinating job onto another participant for the next event. A small amount of organization and follow through will result in many fun, rewarding events for all.
FIND A MENTOR
Find a mentor or professional guide. In the YogaKids program we have a professionally trained mentoring community of yoga teachers, OTs, PTs, and professional educators. This team regularity holds informative webinars, submits articles on a wide variety of topics, posts inspirational educational content to our private forum, and holds monthly team calls. To be able to connect with such a diverse, professional group is extremely valuable to our community. To form your own connections, look to teacher training schools for mentorship opportunities. Many senior teachers are willing and eager to guide a junior teacher on her path to greatness.
ATTEND A TEACHERS RETREAT
A yoga retreat can be a time of renewal, growth, connection. Practice, socialize and interact with a group of like-minded teachers and yoga practitioners often at beautiful, exotic locations. Often connections made on retreats last long after check out and these connections can cultivate and grow even over long distances to become part of your active teaching community.
Sharing passion for your yoga career can be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. As poet Donna Favors says, Life has taught me that respect, caring and love must be shared, for it’s only through sharing that friendships are born. Here is hoping you make beautiful connections.