I’m an introvert.
Quiet and proud. It makes me introspective and observant—both of which are excellent qualities in a yoga teacher. But being an introvert definitely also comes with it’s fair share of challenges.
One of the biggest challenges I faced as a new teacher was connecting with my students. As with many introverts, making small-talk can be difficult, and let’s just say that over-sharing is not something I have to worry about.
My challenge was how to connect with my students while still being true to who I am (because let’s be honest, your students will see right through the fake-extrovert act).
So here’s what I’ve learned over the years:
1. Remember student’s names.
This goes a long way towards making your students feel important. Using their names indicates that they matter and creates a personal connection right off the bat. Bad at remembering names? When I first started teaching, I would write down each student’s name on a post-it note when they came in with a key word that would help me remember them (pink shirt, curly hair). I would try and memorize the names as I was teaching so I could say goodbye to each student by name as they left.
2. Ask students about their lives.
So you are bad at small talk– that’s fine. But introverts are often interested in deeper conversation. If discussing the weather isn’t your thing, ask students what first brought them to yoga. Chances are, if you ask a more open-ended question, you can get your students talking and you can listen. Plus, deeper questions create deeper connection!
3. Follow up on conversations.
If you have a good conversation with your student about their upcoming vacation, follow-up the next time you see them and ask how the vacation went. Students feel good when we remember them, and even better when we remember things about their lives. Again, if your memory isn’t the best, take some notes on your conversations at the end of class. That way you can re-read them before your next class.
Yep. This is where introverts often excel, so play to your strengths. When a student shares something with you, give them your full attention and truly listen. Sometimes lending an ear can create a stronger connection than if you are talking. And often, we don’t have to say a lot when we are listening–students just want to feel heard. (Warning + future post–it’s still important to have boundaries!)
5. Be yourself.
Our students can tell when we are being genuine. So just do you. Chances are as you get more comfortable teaching and get to know your students, you will feel more comfortable and start to show a little more of your personality. Don’t try to be something you’re not–the world needs what you have to offer. Even if you aren’t the most outgoing teacher at your studio, if you bring your authentic and genuine presence to class, your students will appreciate you for who you are.