As a yoga teacher, it is common to be required to audition to work in studios or gyms. The format varies greatly from venue to venue: an interview and demo, a 10 minute demo with all your peers auditioning for the same position, an informal chat, a full trial class. There are many variations.

These auditions are nerve racking. Whether one is an established and experienced teacher or the new teacher on the block, the process is generally the same. The auditions only get one to the cover list, from which one may get a permanent class over time.

Recently, I decided to make some changes to my work framework, with the desire to teach more spreading my teachings beyond my local area, which had been my focus. This required me to email studios and sit auditions, as if I was starting again, from scratch. I chose to take the challenge with humility, playfulness and an open mind.

Most auditions went well, with a somewhat positive outcome….the cover list……. And subsequently a permanent spot in some cases.

But I flunked one audition!  We were all required to prepare a sequence.There were about 15 of us in a room, teaching each other, which is pretty standard. I came in towards the end, when everyone was exhausted, threw my sequence out the window, as it was going to be excruciating for the practitioners and improvised, based on how I thought the participants may enjoy moving. The outcome was jumbled. I was nervous. It was a risky strategy.

A few weeks later, I received my feedback: my sequence lacked rhythm with the breath, and I tended to overuse words like “lovely” and “beautiful”.

“A sigh of relief…… my schedule is already packed……. What? Do they not know who I am? With all my experience…… Maybe I need to retrain…… I am not good enough, clearly…… Maybe I should change jobs, I could work for a charity ……… What can I learn from this? There must be a lesson……. I need to praise less and be firmer……. I was true to myself though, I was really me in that room…… Of course, I know how to cue flow and breath……”

My brain went into many directions, re-hashing the information and the events. Even though I did spend some time reflecting on it, it occupied a lot less space and was less of an emotional roller coaster than failed auditions had been in the past, when I started out, when they deeply rocked my self-esteem and confidence as a teacher. My heart felt for all those who are just coming off trainings and having to go through this experience repeatedly.

What can we learn from a failed audition/interview/demo(there will be a variation of this in so many industries)?

  • Life is not linear – for every successful story, there are peaks and troughs, redirections and rejections. We are less likely to share the challenges and rejections, but they are valuable to us and others for growth and learning.

  • Honesty – Social media perpetuates a life of beautiful moments and successes. It is much less apt at showing the hardship and dance between happiness and sadness, successes and pushbacks and the impermanent nature of our experiences and states of being.

  • Authenticity – The courage to be our own unique self. If being ourselves does not cut it, it is unlikely we will be happy somewhere that does not value who we are.

  • Learn – Taking feedback onboard, however unpleasant it may be, can help for future experiences.   

  • Alignment – While it is difficult to step away from things, saying no or accepting that not everybody is going to like/love us, can help us find alignment and meaning in our day to day lives.Trying to people please by changing ourselves may feel like playing an out of tune instrument.

While it is important for us to learn from experience, the hiring, interviewing and auditioning process at gyms and studios is a window into their culture and values. It is the first impression we get as a yoga teacher. Through this recent process, I have been treated with respect and kindness, whether I have ended up working in those spaces or not, but also with much indifference. I have sat in the interviewer seat myself when I had my own studio, and this experience has made me revisit my ways.

The yoga industry is highly competitive and for every studio there are multiple applicants. However, how one is treated when one applies fora position or puts oneself out there, regardless of whether it goes through, speaks volumes for the potential employer. It is worth listening to how the process affects us and makes us feel.

I want to extend a big thank you to those who are doing this job with care, respect and empathy, valuing and acknowledging the teachers and individuals in front of them, from human to human.

With love from Erika

Photo from yogaandphoto at Soma Wandsworth