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The Four Questions That Gave Me a Fresh Perspective on Teaching Yoga

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You don’t have to measure your success based on your social media following.

Tiffany Cruikshank (pictured), founder of Yoga Medicine, sat down with Live Be Yoga ambassador Lauren Cohen and shared key questions that yoga instructors can ask themselves to reinvigorate their teachings.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. 

About four years ago I quit my full-time job in public relations and dedicated myself to teaching yoga full-time. Amidst the ongoing attempts to perfect my schedule and avoid getting lost in social media mayhem or a comparison trap, I’ve worked hard to remember what it is I love about the practice, what it is that got me hooked. At times it can feel competitive, especially in San Francisco, where so many teachers are teaching full-time, hustling to fill their classrooms, hosting retreats, and seeking those “prime-time” classes. 

Now that I’m on the Live Be Yoga tour, the time away from my day-to-day rhythm and regular class schedule has offered me distance, and in that distance I have gained a ton of perspective already. Yet it wasn’t until I sat down with Tiffany Cruikshank that I felt invigorated and inspired to go back to the drawing board and ask myself some fundamental questions about why I practice and why I teach.

Tiffany is the founder of Yoga Medicine and a teacher trainer whom I’ve had the privilege of studying with over the years. I’ve also watched her build an amazing brand and business that is thriving in so many ways. It was an honor to chat with her about yoga’s evolution, hear her enthusiasm and excitement about how many more people are practicing today, and ask her for solid advice for instructors, like me, who are choosing yoga as a career path.

We covered the importance of quality education, what it means to “make it” as a yoga teacher today, and ways to create a positive impact within our communities while staying true to our intention as teachers. Tiffany’s enthusiasm about the ways yoga continues to reach more people was so infectious that, though lately I’d been feeling discouraged, I left our talk feeling hopeful and reinvigorated. I was eager to return to my classes with even more intention and focus, to distill what it is I truly want to share, and to figure out how to do it consistently.

Read also 4 Things Your Yoga Teacher Training Should Offer

You may question how this happened in a 60-minute conversation. Well, like all effective educators, Tiffany inspired me to ask myself key questions about my path as a yoga instructor. If you, too, are a yoga teacher, I believe you should do the same. Here, several questions to help you dive deeper into what you love about this practice and determine what you feel most called to share.

Navigating the Path of Teaching Yoga? 4 Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Are you clear about your intentions?

If you are clear and honest about your intentions, and constantly checking in with yourself, you can lead from a grounded place instead of getting lost in the “race to the top.” To do this, Tiffany suggests acknowledging three things: What you love most about the practice; what you’re good at; and what your community needs. “If you put these things together to be of service, many of the other pressures associated with being a teacher can dissipate,” says Tiffany. As a result, you remain sincere, make a long-lasting impact, and create a niche for yourself.

2. How are you defining “success”?

With the rise of social media and digital marketing, teachers have become their own Chief Marketing Officers as they seek ways to “make it” in the yoga world. That means developing a brand and then marketing that brand to grow a following. When you’re constantly striving for prime-time class slots and influencer status on Instagram, it’s easy to chase external recognition and validation, and conflate that with success. 

Try reframing your perspective, looking toward what will make you feel fulfilled, nourished, and excited. After all, Patanjali did not have fame or followers in mind when he wrote The Yoga Sutras. Instead, measure your success by your acts of service or how your teaching is impacting your local community.

Read also How I Turned Off Autopilot and Reinspired my Yoga Teaching

3. Are you committed to your own practice and studentship?

“One harm in yoga today is the illusion that teachers are done after a 200- or 500-hour training,” says Tiffany. “Our dedication to continuing to learn and serve our communities is the single most important thing we can do.” Remaining a student is the most critical responsibility of being a teacher because it is only through your own experiences that you can speak and lead with intention and integrity.

4. Are you remaining open and non-judgmental?

More and more people are being introduced to and embracing yoga than ever before. There are different styles offered everywhere, from gyms to offices, and more people are taking teacher trainings to share the practice that impacted them so deeply in the first place. As you continue to evolve on your path, cultivating non-judgmental awareness is key. “It’s easy to place judgment on one style of yoga being better than another,” says Tiffany. “There’s something to be learned in all the different approaches available today. We have to remember that the essence of yoga is about bringing us together, not creating further separation.” 

Follow the Live Be Yoga tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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Live Be Yoga Featured

Why Sticking to Our Daily Routines Helps Us With Unexpected Stress and Fatigue

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The supplements these Yogis take to keep them calm and focused on the road

Brandon and Lauren have never experienced a road trip tour like this before. They are quickly learning that being on the road can lead to unexpected stress and fatigue – that is why they are both making it their goal to stick to their daily routines. Gratitude to our supplement sponsor, Nature’s Way, for supplying Brandon and Lauren with products that harness the best that nature has to offer, helping them on their yoga and wellness journey across the U.S.

For more information on Nature’s Way, please visit NaturesWay.com.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.



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2019 TOUR STOPS

Watch: This Is the True Purpose of Asana

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Aadil Palkhivala and Savitri share what really matters in the world of yoga.

While visiting Seattle, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt visited Aadil Palkhivala and Savitri at their studio, Alive and Shine Center, in Bellevue, WA. Before students came in for an evening workshop, the two master teachers sat down to share their wisdom on the heart of yoga.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.

Watch also “I Never Paid for Yoga Until I Came to This Country”



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2019 TOUR STOPS

Watch: "I Never Paid for Yoga Until I Came to This Country"

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How one yoga teacher is making the practice accessible in his community.

Many yogis talk about making yoga accessible, but how is it actually taking place? While visiting Salt Lake City, Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt joined Santosh Maknikar, founder of Yoga for People and Santosh Yoga Institute, for an evening of practice and kitchari in his home studio. Where Santosh grew up in India, everyone could participate in yoga—without paying a cent. In the video above, he discusses his mission to offer the practice to his community for free.

Live Be Yoga ambassadors Lauren Cohen and Brandon Spratt are on a road trip across the country to sit down with master teachers, host free local classes, and so much more—all to illuminate the conversations pulsing through the yoga community today. Follow the tour and get the latest stories @livebeyoga on Instagram and Facebook.

Watch also The True Meaning of Yoga, According to Richard Freeman & Mary Taylor



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