What I learned about myself as a Yoga teacher by going to other Yoga Classes 

The other day, I was rolling my mat up after a yoga class, when one of my students came up to me and asked, “Why do you come to this class if you’re already a yoga teacher?” You can be forgiven for thinking that this is a strange question to ask, had it been that I was teaching this yoga class. But I hadn’t been teaching, I had actually been taking part as a student in the back row! The other student who had asked the question recognised me, as she used to be a student in my class a few months ago.   

The student's question in fact highlights the perception many have towards ‘group exercise’ classes – we go to these classes to practice, to get better at something or to maintain our fitness. But this is where yoga is different – we go to yoga classes to connect with ourselves, and with others, to some extent. Yoga is also a never-ending journey, not just bound to the physical postures, but includes the philosophical and emotional journeys to experience, also. 

This question got me thinking – we as yoga teachers, all begin our yoga journey the same way – that enthusiastic student who fell in love with yoga and never looked back. Some of us are lucky enough to go on to study in exotic locations, others study closer to home. Some of us have never taught a class after we graduated, others were already teaching their friends by the time they qualified, and watched their numbers grow over the years. Some of us left our jobs and opened studios, some of us still do both! But any yoga teacher would be lying if they said the journey was easy and they remained enthusiastic about their practice throughout the whole process!  

A year ago, I made the difficult decision to cut back on some of the classes I was teaching. I felt burned out, my routines felt stale and I realised I was starting to lose the love for my craft a bit as it became more and more of a grind. But in doing so, I realised I had more time on a couple of evenings, so I started looking into what other yoga classes were happening in my area. It had been a long time since I’d stepped on a mat in another studio and I thought that going back to a class might help me to rekindle my passion for teaching yoga. What I have since then has been an invaluable insight into my own teaching and practice, some of it was very unexpected (and surprising!) 

Here is what I learned from going to other teacher’s classes as a yoga teacher: 

It’s not just your thoughts that come and go... 

I used to get really upset when I’d put a lot of effort into attracting new students to my yoga classes, and then some of them would either not show up or disappear after the introductory offer. Being a student in other yoga classes has taught me to not get offended at my students who only come once or twice and decide I'm not for them, because I've done that for some classes I've been to! Attending lots of different types of yoga classes more recently has made me realise event more that there is a style of yoga out there for everyone, and it often takes a few tries to find the right one. Now I am in quiet awe of students who decide that my yoga is not for them, for it takes courage to try something different in the first place.  

Breaking out of habits that we didn’t realise were there... 

We’ve all done it – we’ve heard a lovely cue, or have been guided through a feel-good sequence of poses from another yoga teacher, and thought, “Oh I could use that in my next class!” This was a hard habit to break, but an important one, because I realised that every time I had a thought like that, I was putting my brain back into “work mode” and not reaping the benefits of a yoga practice by having that all-important “switch off” time.  

I also realised that a really good way of breaking out of this “work mode” mindset was by going to different style yoga classes to the one I teach. I found it helped me to grow confident in my own style and remove that dreaded imposter syndrome feeling of seeing another yoga teacher teaching your style of yoga, but ‘better’. It also helps you to come out of that “I know what’s coming next” mindset, putting you into a ‘beginner’s mindset’. This Buddhist concept is very complimentary to a lot of yogic philosophy practices, and in simple terms is the idea of seeing everything we think, say and do with the awe and wonder of someone who has never experienced these things before.  

You learn who you really are... 

When I went to other yoga teachers’ classes, I realised that the classes I kept returning to were the ones with well-sequenced poses and teachers also provided adjustments. I felt that my sequence-planning was really strong already, but I wasn’t offering adjustments! So I booked myself onto a yoga adjustments course and it really surprised me how much I thought I knew about yoga – and how much more there is to learn out there, also! Now I offer well-informed adjustments in my classes, and my yogis love them! 

… and who you’re not! 

It worried me at times when I would overhear teachers at the end of a class giving out mis-informed advice to students, almost diagnosing problems on the spot in some cases. It reaffirmed to me that this shouldn’t be our job. Our job as yoga teachers is to share yoga – leave the diagnosing to the specialists (unless you are a specialist!) I learned that it’s better for you to admit that you don’t know everything, rather than try and solve everything (badly!) 

Reconnect with the place where you were first inspired 

Going to different classes afforded me the opportunity to learn new yoga pose variations and modifications and that every yoga teacher has their own unique style and approach. By taking classes from different teachers, I learned how I could share these new variations and modifications of poses, helping to make my yoga teaching more accessible and inclusive for students of all levels and abilities. I also helped me to be inspired and motivated to try new things and to grow in my own practice, as well as my teaching. I’d finally found a way to break out of the stale teaching rut that I had found myself in a year ago!  

Gain new insights into alignment and sequencing.  

Remember when you were a yoga student and you would have your favourite teacher? Chances are, you liked them for some of the cues they would use! (One of my favourites always said “the whole body” 3 times in savasana, and it always resonated so well!) Different yoga teachers have different perspectives on alignment and sequencing. I gained new insights into how to teach and cue poses safely and effectively, which helped to improve my own teaching and to create more engaging and beneficial classes for their students. If I’m practising a pose, I also feel it in my own body and learn what works, which transitions feel good, and which do not, too! It also helped me to develop my own, strong yoga routine (see the next point!) 

Develop a strong routine that you can practice anywhere 

Okay, so I’m going to be honest here, I do struggle to regularly get to my yoga mat at home. Having a class to go to at a set time every week really helps me stay motivated and keep a regular practice. But a bonus effect of this was that when I had a spare moment and found myself on my mat, I wasn’t struggling to get creative or think of a sequence, because I would just do the same routine to start with and then from there, shoot off on all sorts of weird and wonderful tangents. 

Build your connections to others 

The word ‘networking’ seems like a dirty word in business these days, but taking yoga classes from other teachers is a great way to network with other yoga teachers in your community. This can lead to new opportunities for collaboration, teaching, and learning (you never know when you might get asked to cover a class!) In addition to this, taking other yoga teachers' classes can also be a lot of fun! It is a great way to meet new people, to learn new things, and to challenge yourself in your yoga practice. 

What I learned about myself as a Yoga teacher by going to other Yoga Classes

A year down the line, after reconnecting with my class through other yoga teachers’ classes, I can honestly say I didn’t expect to be where I am today. The love for my craft was back, burning brighter than ever. I’ve slowly built my classes back up and they’re more popular than ever! So, if you feel a bit burned out as a yoga teacher, and looking for more inspiration, the key is probably less, not more! 

Finally Here’s a few ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind when going to another yoga teacher’s class: 


• Ask the teacher questions 

• Learn about their journey to being a teacher 

• Participate in their class attentively and whole-heartedly 


• Poach their customers – you'll just come off as insensitive and disingenuous (and the students will notice this!) 

• Ignore the routine that the teacher has planned; this could come across as being disrespectful and you’re missing out on the opportunity to build yourself a new routine – you never know what might inspire you on the mat when you’re on your own later! 

• Talk to the teacher whilst they are teaching, you’ll likely put them off their own lesson plan! 

And finally... 

Whether you decide to tell the yoga teacher or not that you are a yoga teacher is up to you – sometimes I like to be an ‘anonymous student’ in a yoga class, because there is almost a sense of less pressure on myself to be ‘good’ at yoga because I am a yoga teacher and everyone in the room knows it. Other times, it’s good to be able to talk about the same highs and lows of yoga teaching (i.e. class numbers, sequencing blunders and the like). Being a self-employed yoga teacher working for yourself can be very lonely (unless you’re working at a studio with other yoga teachers), so it’s a great opportunity to make friends and bond over similar passions. 

Overall, there are many reasons why it is good for yoga teachers to try other yoga teachers' classes. It is a great way to learn new things, grow as a teacher and to create more meaningful classes. The path of yoga should be a varied and interesting one, and taking classes with other yoga teachers will serve as a good reminder as to why you fell in love with yoga in the first place. 

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Francesca Eckersley-Wright
Francesca Eckersley-Wright was previously a school teacher for over 10 years and is now a yoga teacher at franandayoga.com. She believes that yoga is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. When she’s not on the mat, she’s usually reading, biking or out on her paddleboard, enjoying the sights and sounds of nature.

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