The Driven Yogi: Wisdom for New Teachers

ON November 17, 2017

About 25 prospective teachers go through Namaste’s teacher training every year. These students take their newfound knowledge and promote wellness in their communities by teaching at local studios, opening up their own studio, or even teaching yoga at non-profit organizations. However, one of our recent graduates is using her time, knowledge, and new skills to help other yoga teacher graduates like herself. Keisha Courtney started The Driven Yogi.com, a site that offers free tips and advice to help new yoga teachers land their first jobs after training. We wanted to find out more about Keisha and her company. Read on to learn more!

1. Where did you grow up and at what age did you discover yoga?
​I’m from a small town in Clinton, Utah. Growing up I was a competitive gymnast and power tumbler. The competitiveness I learned at a young age carried into different areas of my life, including my career.

It wasn’t until the age of 26 when I discovered the magic of yoga. I was in a high-visibility, high-stress career as a TV news reporter. I covered a wide range of stories from natural disasters to murders, and my stress and anxiety got to an unmanageable level. Since I use exercise as an outlet, I started experimenting with different classes. I took one yoga class and was hooked! I left the studio feeling grounded, light, and clear-headed. From that moment forward, I knew that yoga would be an integral part of my life.

2. How has yoga changed for you since you began practicing?
​When I first started practicing I was always frustrated when I couldn’t do a pose (the competitive gymnast was still in there). It was 6 months into my practice when I was finally able to dig deeper and really understand that I needed to accept where I was in my practice from day-to-day. Sometimes I wanted to move and move hard, and other times a child’s pose was exactly what my body needed. When I accepted this idea, I was finally able to let things go on my mat and that’s when my practice truly blossomed.

3. What attracted you to take a yoga teacher training?
​As much as I love yoga, it actually wasn’t the yoga at all that compelled me to enroll in a teacher training. I’m a competitive pole dancer and I absolutely love pole. When tackling difficult moves in pole, I use the breath techniques I have learned in yoga to help me get through the moves. Because of the benefits yoga brought me in pole dancing, I wanted to bring it to other dancers and create a class that combined the two forms of exercise. I was halfway through my yoga teacher training when I realized I wanted to teach yoga, as there were soooo many directions I could take it. For now, I’m focused on teaching yoga, improving my teaching skills, and sharing my journey through The Driven Yogi.com. I may still come up with the pole/yoga hybrid class, but for now, I’m just happy teaching yoga and guiding my students in their practice.

4. Do you have any advice for people who are just getting into yoga?
​There are a lot of misconceptions that stop people from practicing yoga and the first one relates to flexibility. Since teaching I have had several people say “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible,” but that’s not what yoga is about. For me, yoga reminds me to breath, not take certain things in life so seriously, and to come to my mat to find that release and stillness that my body (and mind) need. If people decide to try yoga for the first time I would just say don’t have preconceived notions about what yoga is or isn’t. Try it out and see what happens. Allow yourself to have your own experience.

5. You have a great presence and have really put yourself out there. Any tips for teachers who may be shy about marketing themselves?
​First off, thank you for that compliment! As for the question, putting yourself out there is scary – I totally get that. But marketing yourself as a new teacher is necessary.
If people don’t know about your classes, how will they be able to come? The studios I work at are super helpful in promoting teachers’ classes, but teachers can’t solely rely on studios to do that for them.

In regards to digital promotion, it doesn’t have to solely​ be about promoting yourself and your classes.​ I find that students actually enjoy getting to know more about their teache​rs outside of class, and they look for ways to relate to them. The posts I put out that don’t have anything to do with yoga tend to get more interaction than the ​posts that ​do​​.​ And ​sometimes, students ​will mention things they’ve seen on my page when they come to my classes – and it’s always the post that don’t ​have to do with yoga.

6. Who are your favorite Namaste teachers and why?
​Oh my goodness, there are so many! I love how much knowledge and experience each one has and I love getting the chance to practice with them. Obviously, I rea​lly enjoyed my teacher trainers: Domonick for his unique yoga classes that combine sequences with dancing, Baxter for his knowledge around anatomy, Vickie for helping me fall in love with alignment-based yoga, and Ashley for helping make meditation bearable (I couldn’t stand doing it before I had her leading me and teaching me certain techniques). On top of the teacher trainers I had, Whitney Walsh (my mentor) is amazing and has such a unique way of leading classes. She drew me in immediately and I HAD to learn more from her. I practice with her weekly and am blown away every. single. time.

7. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
​In five years I hope The Driven Yogi is the go-to source for new yoga teachers. Many great and experienced teachers have already contributed to the site by providing insightful tips for new teachers. As the site grows I will continue to reach out to teachers, but I definitely have plans for the future of the site​ – stay tuned!​

8. What is one tip or self-care practice that you can’t live without?
​This is cliche, but I couldn’t live without yoga. I have a Type-A personality and my mind is constantly on the go trying to figure out how I can check more things off of my neverending to-do list. Yoga reminds me to breathe, be present and let little things go, and it also keeps me grounded so that I can get back to tackling lists – in a healthier way of course.

9. Anything else you’d love our Namaste community to know about you?
I​f you’re a new teacher and curious about the next steps you should take after your yoga teacher training, or if you are thinking about doing a training, please visit my website and sign up for our email list so that you are always in the loop when new tips come out – TheDrivenYogi.com.

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