How to Become a Great Yoga Instructor

Become a Great Yoga Instructor

It is crucial to create a sample lesson plan before starting as a new yoga instructor so you can see where your class will go from start to finish. This should include what postures you want to cover, approximate timing, the name of each posture, and anything else you want to cover during the session. After you have a well-defined plan for your initial session you need to practice this session many times before getting in front of a group of students. Record yourself teaching this lesson via Zoom, just for you, and record the session. Now you have a video recording of yourself teaching review the video and provide some self-assessment, adjust your lesson to correct any areas of weakness, and record again. This practice has helped so many of our students in our yoga teacher training certification program.
Instructing is a balance between having a well-defined plan and going with the flow of the class and the individuals in your space too. Now that you have practiced your lesson plan many times and have this to memory you will now be able to make adjustments to timing, postures, and personalized explanations as the lesson plan has become part of your repertoire.

What are some beginner mistakes to avoid?

Avoid being too rigid or attached to how you want your yoga session to go and teach to the group you have in front of you. All instructors should come prepared for every session but remember you have a creative piece that can and should happen at the moment as well. And also breathe.  

What is the secret to great teaching?

The secret to great teaching is practicing instruction, ongoing self-assessment, and continuing your own yoga practice. New instructors should practice their lesson plan script many times before getting in front of a group and edit lessons as needed to ensure that they are balancing continuity with the excitement of trying new ideas. Not every class is going to be a success; for new and seasoned instructors alike. The great teachers are the ones who can self-assess and correct these moments.

What are some beginner mistakes to avoid?

Timing is challenging in the beginning. Some new instructors run over, start late or end way too early. Remember you need to respect everyone’s time so always have a way to know what time it is during sessions. Perhaps a clock on the wall only you can see. Timing does not always come naturally to new instructors so ensure you plan ahead on how to tell how much time is left in a session.
Move around the class! So many new instructors want to model every posture and don’t walk around enough to see how everyone else progressing. It is lovely to model a posture for the group but then you must look around and move around to see if everyone is on the same page. This is the time to provide verbal adjustments and modifications. Also, consider how your cueing could have been better to get into position for the next session you teach.

Looking back, what do you wish you’d known or done differently when you started teaching?

For me, I wish I had meditated a little more ahead of time at the beginning of my teaching career. Even when I was well prepared, I became nervous at the outset of each teaching experience. Remember all you have learned in your own personal practice in yoga. Remember what your yoga teacher training certification has taught you. Both experiences have given you what you need to know. Use these techniques to keep you balanced and at the moment.

What is your number one tip for new teachers?

New teachers of yoga should be ready to make mistakes and to learn from them. Yoga instructors are human too. Your yoga instruction is a journey and only comes with ongoing practice.  Be patient with yourself. Allow for the unexpected to happen and be grateful for all the experiences that make up your teaching career.

Jennifer Smeddy is the founder and director of She has a master’s degree in Education Administration as well as a 500 RYT Yoga Alliance certification. Jennifer currently teaches yoga teacher training certification classes, group classes, and private lessons. She has been teaching others for over twenty years.