How to Build Self-Confidence
Matkin, Loureiro, and Huang all agree that there are no hard-and-fast rules for boosting teachers' self-confidence. It's a process that involves serious, sustained self-inquiry, as well as a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them. But these teachers do offer a few tips for cultivating self-confidence:
Get out of your own way. Matkin says that learning to let go of the need to get external approval is what gives him a clear view of himself and his role as a teacher. This clear view builds his confidence in his abilities to deliver the teachings of yoga.
Be prepared. Both Loureiro and Huang are believers in the power of preparation to boost self-confidence. Loureiro points out that this is especially important for new teachers, or for teachers who are new to a studio or style. "It sounds obvious, but if you take time to think about the class, write it out, get there half an hour early, set the music, and so on, then you can focus on students rather than worrying about forgetting something," she says.
Don't belabor your mistakes. If you cue a posture incorrectly or miss something in class, don't make a big deal out of it, says Loureiro. "A mistake isn't a big problem—just keep moving forward so that students can stay focused on their experience."
Meet your students eye-to-eye. Both Loureiro and Matkin note that talking to students before class, even if it's just to say hello, is a great way to establish rapport and diffuse nervous energy before the session begins.
Get off the mat. "For me, it's important to have a really rich and full life outside of my teaching," Matkin says. "When I can share with the class what's really going on [in my life], it's a huge boost for my self confidence—when I feel like I can be myself, that's a really good thing."
Own it. Be fully responsible for your teaching," says Loureiro. "Not, 'I'm doing this because my teacher said to,' but 'I own this, I'm doing it because it makes sense to me.' Having a sense of ownership gives you that sense of self-confidence."
Maintain your own practice. Ultimately, says Huang, self-confidence is about honesty with yourself. To cultivate that confidence, you've got to spend time on your own practice every day, connecting with yourself in deep way so that you're grounded and authentic in front of a class.
"Everyone has a unique gift," Huang says. "Self-confidence is about figuring out what that gift is and bringing it to the mat, every day."