by Rebecca Harford, Adapted Yoga & Pilates
As a businesswoman, teacher, mother, wife, friend and family member I have the responsibility and pleasure to support many people. In order to uphold this responsibility, I must be sustainable, along with my business as it supports our students, family and the families of our team.
Being sustainable as a teacher means that you can share the best of your experience with your students. Being tired, hungry, cold and stressed does not become a teacher!
Of course, the most important thing a teacher can do for their own selves is to practice what they preach.
We cannot teach what we do not practice ourselves. Our own practice is what refills our cup so it is full for ourselves, our families and friends, our communities and our students.
At the very basis of what we do, a Yoga teacher trades time and experience for resources. Traditionally this was in the form of food and lodging. Now it is money or a trade of services. This concept of trading time and experience for resources is often an uncomfortable one for many.
Time is a limited and finite resource. It cannot be extended, recreated, duplicated or enlarged. It is non-discriminate – everyone, no matter their creed, class or education has the same amount of time a week. How we choose to use our time is up to each of us as individuals. When trading a limited resource it is integral to respect the resource and use it as respectfully as possible.
When sharing a limited resource, ensure that it is with the audience that you enjoy working with AND that the experience shared is appropriate to that audience.
This one concept is often a huge problem for a lot of teachers- we cannot be everything to all. You can do anything you want, you cannot do everything.
For example, the class at the local gym may not be as enthused as you are by your beautiful chanting, the kids at the preschool might be overwhelmed by your phenomenal knowledge of the stories behind each pose, the retirement village residents may get upset by your advanced Asana practice and the local church group could feel threatened through your use of Sanskrit.
Yes, it is important that we are adaptable, however, it is much more sustainable to spend a majority of your teaching time with student (s) that you enjoy and that enjoy and respect you. The students that can gain the most from your experience sharing.
Sometimes the easiest way to identify your ‘niche’ is to identify the specifics of certain population groups that haven’t resonated with you in the past (I am still a little intimidated by teenagers, to be honest!). Then start to reflect on a handful of students that you really enjoyed working with, where it just flowed easily as you taught them, the students that appeared to get the most from your time and experience.
It is also important to identify and acknowledge what strengths and knowledge you hold as a teacher, along with any of the gaps in your knowledge and experience.
Interestingly, teaching may not necessarily be the right niche for you right now- one can still be attached and support Yoga in New Zealand by delving into their other strengths, photography, import, people management, marketing, health and safety, venue management- honestly the list is endless.
With all of this information, you will be able to start identifying what you want to be teaching to who. This is absolute gold. Hold onto this. Please, please, please continue to repeat this process as your journey as a teacher and student continues as you will change and therefore your niche will as well.
A key step that we also miss – especially as we begin our journey teaching, is to identify what we as the teacher require in order to be sustainable.
For example; when my daughter was a baby I needed to be able to have her with me as I taught, then once my husband joined the team I had to ensure that we received enough consistent cash flow to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. So think of the practical things.
When do you want to teach? How much money/resources do you need at the end of the week to pay your bills, put some rainy day money away and ensure time off in the future?
This now creates the challenge of how to fit the above-identified niche into your needs for a sustainable life? It may take a little bit of thinking outside of the box and you may hit some roadblocks. If you are not sustainable from the outset it is very hard to be sustainable in the future.
The great thing about identifying your niche and your needs is that it makes everything else easier. Including how to ensure that your best audience gets the best of you consistently. It will help with your sustainability and success as a teacher and human being.
My path to becoming a Yoga teacher was not a traditional one, I only completed training to find out more about Yoga due to a lot of people raving about it and to be honest not believing the hype. Fast forward 15 years I am a complete convert and have taught thousands of people, thousands of classes throughout the world and have founded a highly successful Yoga and Pilates business. I have a passion for creating successful pathways for teachers to live their dreams sustainably. I look forward to supporting your success one day.
About Rebecca Harford
Enabling everyday people to become their best is Rebecca’s biggest motivator. Rebecca has spent 20 years working in health and well being and created Adapted Yoga and Pilates from her garage.
Rebecca has been a gym instructor, group fitness instructor, Yoga teacher, Pilates teacher, personal trainer, club manager and is now a business owner. She has worked on cruise ships, in small gyms, for ACC, in large gym franchise, for physiotherapists and now runs the largest Yoga and Pilates business in NZ. On completion of her Physical Education degree in sports science and exercise prescription and management Rebecca traveled the world teaching, instructing and training and then returned to NZ to continue her learning which has never stopped.
Now, as a mum, wife, teacher and student Rebecca likes to keep things simple: Have fun. Feel Better. Become Your Best.