Kuula’s vision has always been to empower teachers and democratise the sector, with the simple but effective concept that together we are better.
We want to help wellness and fitness professionals as much as possible and talk about the things that matter. Starting in January 2021, we are hosting Instagram Live sessions with industry leaders and key speakers, giving invaluable insights and top tips on how to grow business and thrive in the online world.
On Wednesday January 13th, Kuula CEO Mariel Witmond hosted the very first Instagram Live session with Mia Togo, International Yoga Teacher and Life Coach. It was a fascinating conversation, centred around finding balance between the things we can and cannot control. Mia encouraged us to face our fears and to do the inner work needed so that we can show up authentically and share the healing benefits of our practice. Keep reading for our main takeaways from the interview.
Letting go of control
The conversation started with a little tech glitch, which is incredibly appropriate for our conversation on surrendering to things we can’t control, right?
Apparently tech issues aren’t the only ones we can’t control; Mia shared an entertaining anecdote about being interrupted by a delivery man while teaching her online yoga classes from home; I’m sure many of us teaching or practicing from home can relate to this!
Adjusting to teaching online
For Mia, transitioning to online classes hasn’t been entirely new, she has been filming on demand video content for a number of years. However, she acknowledged how challenging this past year has been for everyone and how much compassion she has for newer teachers or for those who have never experienced teaching in front of a camera. Mariel wholeheartedly agreed and told us how wildly uplifted she has been, watching how people persevered amidst the most challenging circumstances.
As yogis, as well as sharing our practice with others, we now need to adapt to constantly evolving technology and ways of delivering our classes and content. At Kuula we strive to make the world of online teaching easy, accessible and enjoyable; a complete solution that empowers teachers to create and grow a business through online presence.
On the more physical side of things, when it comes to demoing poses, cueing sequences and adapting to being behind a screen, it’s safe to say that everyone has different ways of connecting to and accessing their practice. For Mia, it all comes down to touch and visuals, through which she guides her student’s understanding of what’s going on in their bodies and helps them build a deeper union of body and mind. One of the biggest pieces of advice she wants to pass on is to go towards our fears and to learn from our insecurities. Every teacher is human, there are things that will come up and it’s okay to make mistakes.
Let’s talk about Imposter Syndrome
As much as 70% of people struggle with imposter syndrome, though most of us never talk about it. Isn’t that something of a paradox? Healthy living is as much about having a positive outlook on life and yourself, as it is about exercise and eating well.
Impostor syndrome makes us feel as though we don’t belong or that we are somehow less qualified than our peers and only where we are because of a mistake. Of course, this is not true. To stop feeling like an imposter, you need to train your brain to stop thinking like an impostor. As with all things, this takes practice and patience.
It’s about finding that balance between ease and challenge, according to Mia and Mariel. We shouldn’t be giving up on things just because they’re hard, it’s okay to push ourselves to get out of our comfort zones. But we should also let go of attachment, which doesn’t mean we’re surrendering or giving up, it means we are learning from the experience and the discomfort.
And now comparisons
In this moment, when we’re always on our phones, we tend to knock ourselves down as we look at other people’s successes. Mia has some wise words for new teachers, ‘‘it’s normal to go through an initiation phase and it’s absolutely common to go through certain struggles. It’s part of growing, but if you avoid it, you miss the wisdom”, and she reminds us that our students can more easily relate to us when we show our vulnerabilities.
A true inspiration, when Mia first started teaching she had maybe 10 students in a class, whereas when she left Los Angeles, she was teaching to over 100 people and leading teacher training! It took a lot of work and she is aware that everyone’s path is different, but it’s important to build skills slowly and mindfully, to be authentic when teaching. It’s important to find an authentic voice. It’s okay to go towards fears and insecurities and this is how you will grow as a teacher.
When Mia moved to London, she had to start over, teaching classes with 8 or so students. No one knew her as a teacher and it was a great opportunity for her to show her determination, resilience and vulnerability. “In this industry, slow and steady is key” Mia affirms. And as Mariel insightfully reminds us, you can’t skip the journey, it’s where the juiciest and best things happen; teachers and instructors constantly evolve.
When teachers and instructors stop being supported by studios and gyms, and in a world where we have become so physically disconnected, it’s important to find a community that has your back and creates a sense of togetherness. This is at the very heart of Kuula stands for and something that Mia also feels passionately about. The sense of community comes from fellow teachers but also from students. Even though an online class cannot replicate being in a studio, there’s definitely ways to feel connected to the people that show up on the screen.
Interestingly, Mia thought she wasn’t going to teach at YogaWorks anymore due to being miles away from Los Angeles, but lockdown made it possible. She loved seeing how communities mixed and merged, practicing through different platforms and across different studios. There’s room for everyone, this is something newer teachers shouldn’t worry about when it comes to low turnouts or cancelled classes.
Showing up with intention
As teachers, we often ask our students to set an intention for their practice and we should too, Mariel suggested. Something to always keep in mind is to continually ask ourselves “why do we teach in the first place?”. Quality over quantity is the key here, even if it’s one or two students showing up in class, it’s important to show up with love and appreciation.
Mia reiterated the importance of the intentionality we show up with, it’s important to be invested in the students we teach for. We have to remember to hold that boundary of truth and love when we hold space for students. Even if we don’t see them again, it doesn’t mean we don’t have an impact on them. The more we do it, the easier it becomes.
The hardest moments always invite us to look ourselves in the mirror and they allow us to grow. If you struggle with low turnouts, keep showing up and do it from a place of love.
We hope you enjoyed our talk with Mia Togo and if you’d like to watch it again, just visit our profile on Instagram and you will find it on our feed. Now stay tuned for more exciting interviews to come very soon!