For those of you who are newly certified Yoga instructors and pondering ‘what’s next’, read today’s article about Tara Echenroeder and her five insights for new yoga teachers. Tara is an experienced ERYT500, RCYT, YACEP certified Yoga instructor, life coach, self-published author and the founder of greatabidingyoga. In 2015, Richmond magazine voted her as one of the top three yoga instructors in Richmond. For the past five years she has traveled across the country and Central America, presenting at festivals, offering workshops, yoga hikes, leading and facilitating retreats, and her classes; an empowering Bhakti fusion flow of music and yoga. As a life coach and mentor, Tara works with teachers fresh out of training, seeking insights and guidance.
“After teacher training, everyone walks away with just a taste of what’s possible. As a life coach, when someone first approaches me for guidance, “Now what?” is a question I hear a lot.”
1. Get Clear
The first insight that Tara emphasizes is one of reassurance; everyone finds their own unique path. However, before you even step out as teacher, Tara advises to take time to get clear and recognize yourself as a perpetual student. We are so cultured to go, go, go, planning the next training or class to attend. As a result, it can lead to getting stuck on the doing. As important as it is to have goals and not “sit back in the bean bag of life” as Tara puts it, sometimes we need to wait and get clear.
Take for instance, a snow globe. After it’s shaken, it takes time for all the bits to settle. Comparably, after a lot of action and momentum in our lives, we need time to settle and come to a rest. We have to put it all down in order to see within. Therefore, as a teacher and lifelong student, Tara finds it helpful to ask herself, what message has been given for me to share?
Find where your unique personality and strengths can nourish others, remembering that your strengths aren’t necessarily what you’re good at, but rather what makes you feel strong. Tara’s message is to help others feel their feet; dropping out of the thinking mind and back into the soil of the body, find their internal compass, unlock their internal powers and get in touch with Nature, our greatest teacher.
What’s your message to share?
2. Be Open to Opportunity
Tara first began teaching yoga in 2010 part time, and poured great effort into her classes. She had note cards for every possible sequence and pose, and hustled to make her classes the best she could. She taught at studios, schools, gyms and several other establishments in Richmond. One day, the manager of one of the studios where Tara worked, called to ask Tara if she could lead a workshop. Tara had never done a workshop before and didn’t know what that would entail but she agreed and one thing led to another.
As soon as Tara opened her arms to that first opportunity teaching a workshop, others began to arrive. In Big Sky Montana, after a Kids yoga training she had a big breakthrough, realizing that her teaching spanned beyond the borders of Virginia and the East Coast. She loved teaching adults how to teach (aka to be) kids. Eventually, a connection in Montana asked Tara to lead a retreat in Bocas del Toro, Panama. From there, her life as a bird began, traveling to share workshops, lead retreats, and present at festivals. At first, Tara resisted the idea of pursuing yoga as a full-time career but finally, in 2014, she took the leap and founded Great Abiding Yoga, LCC.
3. See Obstacles as Opportunity
Another insight that Tara likes to remind new teachers is that struggle is inherently part of transition. However, the way we approach any difficulty remains up to us. Do we respond to obstacles or unexpected challenges from a place of fear? Or rather, do we pause, acknowledge what happened, and open ourselves to what lessons can be embraced?
“Just to be clear; Yoga instructors don’t walk on rainbows for the rest of their lifetime. There will inevitably be hard lessons to learn.”
Tara certainly ran into her own fair share of stop signs and obstacles. For example, owing taxes to the government for her business wasn’t a fun lesson to learn. However, Tara focused on the positive outcome of that experience. She reached out to others who had done what she was attempting to, and reached out for advice and guidance. In order to keep her perspective flexible and adaptable, Tara tries to see problems as possibilities, and obstacles as opportunities.
4. Find Your Tribe
Another of Tara’s great insights is to focus on surrounding yourself with those most aligned with you and your message. Once you find your tribe, you won’t have to go it alone. In 2015, Tara had her first experience of a yoga festival at Wanderlust. She recounts that she was blessed to experience incredible teachers and partake in amazing classes. Within the festival scene, Tara had found part of her tribe. That same year she attended Floyd Yoga Jam and presented at Shensara, two yoga festivals based in Virginia. Just by showing up, she stumbled upon opportunities and a group of people aligned with her values and receptive to her message.
Another part of finding your tribe is incorporating what you love into your teaching. For Tara, that means music! Many of Tara’s earliest memories growing up are of her father playing the guitar, banjo or piano and she learned from a young age that music was medicine. However, music wasn’t always part of her yoga practice or teaching.
That changed several years back when Tara participated in a yoga class that was accompanied by the drumming of Brad Ellsworth. “It was transformational, I went somewhere else” and after the class Tara approached to ask Brad if he might consider taking his drums on the road with her. Brad performed at several of Tara’s workshops and it led to a partnership that lasts to this day.
Another frequent collaborator is the award winning finger-style guitarist, Christie Lenée. A “beautiful soul and traveling musician” the two partnered to share Christie’s melodies and healing during Tara’s classes.
“Since that seed was planted, she and I have performed at various studios and festivals together sharing the medicinal synergy of movement and music”
5. Remember: You’re Part of a Bigger Plan
Maybe the most important insight Tara offers is that we are part of a plan much bigger than we could ever know. Tara discovered this for herself during a period of frequent travel when she found herself journaling often and writing poetry. As a result of that creative opening, Tara published her first book this year entitled Collecting Feathers. But before any of this could happen, Tara first had to loosen her grip on the reins.
“Ever since I really got clear on what I wanted, opened myself to opportunities and surrounded myself with my tribe, things presented themselves to me.”
Get clear, find your message, open to opportunity, find your tribe and remember you are part of a bigger plan are all parts of the growth process. These five insights have informed the workshops that Tara shares at Yogaville and with those she mentors as a life coach. For those of you interested in hearing more from Tara, or how to apply these steps more specificially to your unique path, consider signing up for one of her upcoming workshops here at Yogaville.
About Tara Eschenroeder
Tara Eschenroeder is a certified coach and mentor, self-published author and an accomplished yogini. She was voted one of the top three Yoga instructors by Richmond Magazine in 2015. With some teachers, the lessons are planned and perfected to a tee, but Tara Eschenroeder offers a different experience. Teaching was Tara’s dharma long before she realized it…read more