The Yoga Mentor || Annie Clarke (Mind Body Bowl)

The Yoga Mentor || Annie Clarke (Mind Body Bowl)

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this blog post resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie Clarke (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk) who has a dedicated Mentor Section on her website (link in copy below)

If you don’t live in London and/or have a particular yoga teacher in mind who you love learning from, then why not ask them to act as your Mentor in your first year of teaching – perhaps drawing on the points I have highlighted below (where Annie has helped me) to get you started….

For Annie, new teachers, and all of us who know that we are all still learning….

Meeting Annie…

It was a little over a year ago that I went to my first yoga class with beautiful Annie Clarke. I remember the date because it was the first day of London Cocktail Week, for which I was managing the press, so I knew starting the week with a yoga class was probably a wise idea!! 

The class was gorgeous. Tuning into the groups’ needs at 6:45am on a chilly Monday morning, Annie started the class slower and more mindfully than I was used to in my practice.

A kind, calming and intuitive teacher, Annie talked through Qi (chi) energy and had us pacing ourselves through her creatively sequenced vinyasa flow class.

Slowly and surely building heat in our bodies, we journeyed thorough sun salutations, hip, hamstring and shoulder openers, through to balancing, a Pincher Mayurasana practice and closed tradition Ashtanga style into a blissful Savasana.

The class was so beautifully put together that my good friend Faith and I failed to notice each other for the duration of the class (even with my mat directly in front of hers)!

It was only later that evening when meeting Faithy for a drink at London Cocktail Week, where we told each other about “the amaaaazing yoga class we went to that morning,” that we realised we’d been flowing in the same class.

Now THAT is journeying within and dropping the distractions when you practice!

Pratyahara (sense withdrawal) at its best! Thanks Annie! ūüėȬ†

At the time I was about 2 months away from completely my 200 hours Yoga Teacher Training; and as I was falling in love with Annie’s¬†¬†morning class, I remembered something my Course Leader had said to me:

“Be sure to take on board all of this feedback you are getting from your leaders and your course mates while you study; both the positive and the constructive.¬†

When you become a teacher, especially in London, you will soon notice that people come to your class, practice, and walk straight out when it’s over – which is totally fine of course – but it’s worth noting that even if they’ve loved your class, it’s unlikely they will take the time to tell you, so listen, learn and appreciate the feedback now.”¬†

That piece of advice struck a chord with me and so I made a commitment to take the time to tell the teachers that I really love, exactly what I loved about their classes.

They’ve given their time and energy to guide a group practice, and some teachers wear their heart is on their sleeve – so I believe it’s a lovely thing to do in return.

After class I spoke to Annie who was so approachable, encouraging and friendly Рand who looked genuinely appreciative of the genuinely delivered compliment. We got chatting and the fact that I was training came up. 

I started going to more and more of Annie’s classes – I’m pretty fluent in her public class timetable actually – and we’d always chat a bit after class about my course. She took a genuine interest and took me under her wing, especially as I was gripped with nerves at the idea of ever teaching a public class, or how to even go about getting an audition for one!

A couple of weeks before I passed my Teacher Training, I was regularly attending Annie’s classes and we were becoming more pally.

I remember being so thrilled and taken aback by the generosity when she offered to have me assist at some of her bigger yoga events and day retreats in the next year and that, as a way to help both relive some of the nerves that so many newly qualified teachers experience, and to help get my foot in the door/some exposure to add to my fairly thin looking Yoga CV. 

The Yoga Mentor…

That very kind offer shortly evolved into Annie suggesting that she take on a Mentor Role, in which we could meet for coffees, chats and check-ins so that she could understand how I wanted to shape my teaching path and help guide me there.

She has been true to her word and so much more over the last year: 

She’s been a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board, a giver of practical advice, recommended me to studios to help get my foot in the door, called on me when she’s needed classes covered, had me assist at her Water Element Day Retreat as a Karma Yogi*, invited me to assist her teach at LuluLemon Sweatlife Festival and more broadly, has shared her time, energy, wisdom, love, expertise and support.

Annie has spared time to meet me for breakfast/a coffee in between teaching her classes and even on route to the airport. – Which has never gone unappreciated.

Over the course of the year, Annie’s practical advice has gone from how I might get a yoga class / audition in the first place, who to contact and how to approach them; through to how to set up a class of my own, including all logistical advice re payment and cancellation policies, as well as how to politely and fairly give up classes when I’ve felt totally over-stretched, without allowing me to feel bad about it.

Further practical advice has been to build (genuine) relationships with the studios you practice at in the lead up to becoming a teacher to help when the time comes to hand in your CV, to teach community classes so that you can practice teaching a group under less pressure (plus it’s a generous way to be with your time), to assist the teachers you know and love in their classes, to offer yourself up for cover, to be gracious¬†and reliable¬†when covering classes, to not be afraid to ask for feedback – and more so to not be afraid to have your students pass the feedback on to the right places.

She has put in kind-words across London’s Yoga Teacher community, for which I owe my audition at FRAME, as well as other opportunities to cover classes for friends of hers.¬†

Graciously (and excitingly) Annie had another of her mentored yogis, Kelle McGrath, and I assist as she taught 300 yogis during the first class of the day at LuluLemon’s SweatLife, which was an incredible moment – especially for someone in their first year of teaching.¬†¬†

Not having lost sight of how daunting the first year as a yoga teacher can be makes Annie a compassionate and authentic mentor, and one who is extending her big sister like wings to help a few more yogis straight outta school.

If you’re a newly qualified / soon to be qualified teacher and this resonates then I would highly recommend reaching out to Annie (annie@mindbodybowl.co.uk)

Get in touch with Annie via her Mentor Space on Mind Body Bowl.

Yogi’s are compassionate – don’t be afraid to ask for advice. You never know, you’re mentor might even feel that in mentoring a junior teacher, they too are growing in their own way and on their own yogic path.¬†¬†

In the words of Celest Periera, international yoga teacher and author of The Yoga Mentor – a really fab, comprehensive and incredibly useful book aimed at new teachers – “We are all still learning….”

I owe a lot of my yoga highlights, and some of my best advice, over the last year to Annie ~ thank you lovely one.

n a m a s t e

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