What to do when yoga teacher “imposter syndrome” strikes!
Maybe you’ve never really asked yourself what a dictionary definition might be of imposter syndrome – but I bet you’ve felt it!
I did a little research for this article – and “imposter syndrome” is defined as:
A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain
convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.
It hits everyone – often a workplace phenomenon, but not exclusively: and yoga teachers feel it too!
Just some of the ways “imposter syndrome” can hit yoga teachers: include
- You stand in front of your first class and think; “What on earth am I doing here?” I’m fresh out of training, and don’t know enough to teach.”
- A class doesn’t go as well as you’d hoped, or a student that came for a trial session doesn’t come back – and immediately find yourself thinking “I’m not good enough; it’s my fault.”
- You research other yoga teachers in your area – trying to suss out the competition, and feel that everyone else seems to be SO much more “together” and experienced than you.
- You think your 200 hour training isn’t enough and you’re going to need to learn more before you put yourself out there and work with real live students.
- You offer loads of free classes – because you don’t feel you’ve done enough to charge a reasonable fee yet.
- You’re trying to write the copy for a website, and you’re stalling because you’re feeling
“inadequate.” What the heck do you write on your “About me” page you ask yourself
- You are procrastinating wildy about getting yourself out there on social media; doing videos and networking. You’re not photogenic! You don’t know what equipment to use. It’s not going to look professional; you’ll stutter; who’s going to want to listen to little old you
……..and on and on it goes.
How many of these do you recognise in yourself?
As you build your yoga business, where does imposter syndrome not only hold you back, but sometimes even prevent you from starting at all – all because your brain is screaming you’re not ready/not good enough/a fraud! Here’s the truth….I’ve seen people WAY ahead of me in terms of what they’re achieving, talk about feeling this debilitating condition. They talk of fearing at some point they’re going to be “found out” and people will realise they’re NOT that good; they’re NOT an “expert” and they don’t deserve the success they’re experiencing. And yet to me, they’ look wildy successful and “together” – as if they’ve got it all “sussed out.”
It’s almost as if we set some internal “bar” in our heads as to what constitutes “being good enough”, and if we’re not reaching that bar, that’s our excuse for not putting ourselves out there to be seen and “found out.”
And I’m here to tell you – “imposter syndrome” is an EXCUSE we all use to stay hidden: to hold back from taking our gifts; ideas or our talents and strengths out into the world for the benefit of others.
So STOP IT! Stop letting it paralyze you and try these three simple tips I have found helped me.
3 simple tips to help you overcome “imposter syndrome” in your yoga teaching:
1. Know that a 4 th grader is GOD to a third grader!
A simple phrase – but meaning, all you have to be is one step ahead of your students, and
you can teach.
In fact – if you’re TOO far ahead, the risk is what you try to teach goes over their heads
because you’re assuming knowledge or understanding they most likely don’t have yet, but
which is second nature to you now. What you’ve forgotten is it needs breaking down a little
more when you’re first learning.
Really great teachers can do this – no matter how advanced they are – BUT If you’re a brand
new yoga teacher with little teaching experience under your belt, you may only be a little
ahead of some of your students but you still remember how tricky learning some things
could be – you break it down into more manageable “chunks” – and your students don’t feel
Imagine a complete newbie – never done yoga before – coming to a fast flowing Vinyasa
class. If you can’t help that individual see and learn the individual poses which make up the
flow, they’ll struggle; maybe their alignment will be out, maybe they’re struggling with their
breathing and worse – maybe they won’t come back because they think they “can’t do
And we all know, nothing could be further from the truth!
So - remember – all you need to be is one step ahead!
And then keep learning a bit more – and pass on to your students! Keeps it fresh, but
completely accessible for your students.
2. Eliminate comparison
If you want to build a thriving yoga business it does pay to do some research on what other
yoga teachers are doing – not so much from a point of competition, but what can you learn
from what successful yoga teachers are doing and how you might be able to partner or
collaborate with them and other complimentary disciplines too.
But researching other yoga teachers should come with a health warning! It can seriously
mess with your confidence! (See article https://yoginiors.co.uk/researching-yoga-teachers-
messes-with-self-confidence/) So don’t let that research feed the imposter in your head!
Remember – these yoga teachers who seem so much further than you started with nothing
too – other than a desire to learn and a take action. That’s all you need to do.
3. Trust yourself and your desire to teach:
“When you don’t teach what you know, other people can FEEL that.” (Anna Forrest, of
I heard Anna say this in an interview recently – and it really struck a chord.
Trust yourself and your desire to teach.
You came to yoga on your own journey for a reason – and it helped. There are others out
there who may be facing similar challenges for whom you, your voice and your approach to
teaching are just perfect. It’s tempting when we first come out of our 200 hour yoga teacher
training, to think we have to teach as we were taught.
Don’t try to copy other teachers. Teach safe practice and alignment; teach a rounded
practice which helps students see the holistic perspective of yoga and its philosophy -
But after that, teach what you know and love; let your own practice inform what you teach your students – then it will NEVER feel fake – and your students will know it too and stay with you because of that.
So are you ready to step out and make yourself seen and heard?
All I know is, from my own experience, the more I am willing to do that, and the less I worry what people will think, the more I learn, the more benefit I seem to bring to more students and the more successful I seem to become.
It’s a win-win.
Get out there and take control of that imposter in your head! You’ll never eliminate it completely! Every single time you step up a level it’ll come racing back – but every time it shrinks a little, becomes less of an obstacle. You recognise it for what it is – fear – and you know you can handle it and get past it.
Actions you can take:
- Check out other articles around the topic of getting the right mindset to be a yoga teacher, on my blog which might be helpful around this topic. You’ll ifnd a few mindset article here: https://yoginiors.co.uk/category/mindset-of-a-successful-yoga-teacher/
- Join our FB group; share your thoughts on this article and your own experience with
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