I didn’t expect that teaching yoga would in turn teach me so many lessons.
Teaching with authenticity came as an unexpected challenge as a new teacher.
Without knowing what was going on in the bodies and minds of my students, I felt unable to stand strong in my own feet and in my own voice. I naturally began to defend my vulnerabilities by creating a separation between the students and myself. Teaching became a performance where I felt like I was on a stage with an audience.
I have learned that if we want our students to feel comfortable, secure and connected we must strip off our masks and face our students as we are- allowing them to be exactly as they are.
“Tear off the mask. Your face is glorious.”– Rumi
1) Practice, then Preach
Teach only what you know. Self-practice will give you the deepest understanding of yoga that you can then share with others. You are only able to share your experience with your students. It is not possible to teach something that you have not yet experienced for yourself. This would be like teaching a language that you cannot yet understand. Anyone can repeat the words of someone else but to teach effectively you must be able to express what it is you have learned. Share your practice.
2) Yoga is Connection
Make direct contact with your students. Through speech, sight and touch you have all the tools to connect with every student. Ask questions – create a safe environment for people to interact with you. Make eye contact – let people know that you are seeing them. Always first assess what the students are comfortable with, but people generally like to be hands – on adjusted. Safely assisting and supporting your students can immediately create a connection. You are not a YouTube video – take advantage of being in real time!
3) Teach People, Not Poses
Respond to your students. If you are not cultivating awareness of your students while teaching them – how can you expect them to be aware of what you are teaching? Teaching is never one – way but a reciprocal process. You are teaching unique individuals. Stay tuned into how the class is receiving and responding to what you are saying. Approach the students with a sense of curiosity and respond according to their needs. Each moment is a mystery and so is each class – each student brings something new that you can learn from – stay present.
4) To be Sacred does not mean to be Serious
Enjoy yourself. Trust me that if you are not enjoying teaching – no one else will be enjoying your teaching either. You are creating a space for people to explore themselves as living human beings – dropping into the excitement and aliveness that exists in each moment. Teach what you feel passionate about so you are able to share this joy. Remember not to take yourself too seriously, as it’s not really about you anyways!
5) Live Yoga
As a teacher, it is your responsibility to maintain the practice outside of the class and into the world around you. This does not mean you should attempt to be who you think is the “perfect yoga instructor” but to live your truth – making conscious choices of how you interact with life. It’s not about having anything – the perfect practice, the perfect diet or even a smile always on your face – but about cultivating awareness to your relationship with yourself and the world around you – in every possible moment. You have the opportunity to share the reasons why you practice and teach yoga that stretch far beyond the mat and into the world – share this.
May everything we do benefit all beings.
Sacha is a Yoga Trade Travel Representative – living nomadically all over the globe as a student and teacher of yoga. She is passionate about sharing the benefits of yoga as a way of living in connection with oneself and the living world around us.