What Does It Take to Be a Yoga Teacher?

Having a committed yoga practice helps, says acclaimed expert Seane Corn, but being a good instructor isn’t just about flexibility

Thinking about becoming a yoga teacher? Don’t worry if you’re not the bendiest person in class, advises Seane Corn, internationally celebrated yoga instructor.

“It’s not about how flexible you are — can you engage your students?” Seane asks. And don’t let self-doubt stand in your way.

Seane was originally very resistant to going into teaching. “I did it only to think I’d be a better student. As a yoga student, I was completely comfortable and confident. But when my teachers started saying I’d be a great teacher, I felt like a fraud.

“I had to let go of the fear of public speaking,” Seane adds. “Because my [New Jersey] accent is different from the way they talk in California, I had a lot of fear I’d be exposed as inarticulate or unlearned.”

In addition, the first time Seane taught was, in her words, a humiliating experience — very significant, considering it marked a turning point in how she thought of herself. Three times she started teaching a pose to her fellow students, and three times she choked from stage fright. Finally, Seane asked her instructor if she could do things on her own terms.

“When I walked out into the middle of the room, I could feel the energy of the other students coming back to me.”

Finding her own voice and style cemented Seane’s decision to teach yoga full-time. Now she embraces the very things that set her apart, and finds that her ways of speaking and teaching are what draw students to her classes.

So what’s her advice to yoga students on how to become yoga instructors?

The first impulse of most teachers-in-training is to mimic their own instructor. Let go of that crutch, Seane advises, and listen to your spirit. Keep it fun, keep it simple and, above all, be yourself. “If Spirit wants you to teach it’s because Spirit wants you to teach. There is room for the myriad personalities on this planet.

Besides, she adds, anytime you do service, it’s not really about you anyway.

“When I’m teaching, I’m in the highest place of myself,” Seane says. “I’m the most compassionate, the most open; I have no judgment. And I feel completely available to whatever’s unfolding in front of me.”


When she’s not teaching mind-body-spirit practices in Venice, Calif., hosting workshops and retreats, or attending yoga conferences, Seane Corn is passionately campaigning for social change. Her nonprofit organization Off The Mat, Into The World uses yoga to teach wellness and leadership skills to mothers and children living with AIDS. She is also the national yoga ambassador for YouthAIDS. Find all of Seane’s yoga flow DVDs at Gaiam.com, including her newest release, Detox Flow® Yoga.

Practice yoga with Seane Corn on our streaming video site, GaiamTV.com!


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