Having trained for many years, you have taken the step to attend a teacher training program, perhaps even an advanced training program. You are now certified and are ready to go. You may have your own classes and substituted your teacher in their sessions. You are responsible, organized and on time. You have dedication to your personal practice.
Here a few things to consider to go from being a good teacher to a great teacher!
- Yoga is not just exercise
Yoga means ‘union’. This is an overused adage, with more than a ring of truth to it. Yoga can be exercise, but it has the ability to take you beyond the body. Yoga can be a physical practice to some, but chances are many people will appreciate a session for breathwork, meditation and relaxation. This is our opportunity to use the tools of breath, energy movement, and postures to help those around us slow down and be mindful.
- Practice the basics
The basics could be learning to listen to our breath or awareness of ourselves in every moment. Whatever it is to you, the style of yoga you teach, the basics set your foundation very, very strong. This is what will take you through any class.
- Take time to discover YOU
I cannot emphasize this enough. Not just as an instructor or teacher, but as a person. The basis of who you are will guide you in your personal practice, and this will impact your entire teaching experience. Who you choose to be will be the basis of your teacher avatar as well.
- Read and analyse – stay up-to-date
It is crucial to stay informed of the trends, the fads, the current research, the anatomy and physiology, latest fashion, travel destinations, all of which comes with yoga. You may agree or disagree – analysis is important. Understand what the article/research study says, how it applies to you and if you learn something from it. For instance, you have been taught an asana in a certain way. Modern research is showing how damaging that can be. What do you do in this instance – continue teaching the same way you learnt or modify your teaching based on what the studies show? This is the moment to use the tools of Yoga: Viveka (discretion) and Vairagya (detachment). We are capable of deep thought, understanding and wisdom and this is our opportunity to use it.
- Trust your Intuition
Within a class setting, it can be an extremely rewarding experience to let our guard down for a few moments to connect with those around us. It can be a healing experience to conduct the class in a circle format, which, while also being a no-judgment zone, contains no teacher-student distinction. During a personal session, take the time to focus on the person by having them give you small cues – like a smile if they feel good. Sometimes, you may need to change your class plan very quickly. Let your intuition guide you and trust your intuition when it does.
- Make time for feedback
I teach slow-paced classes, with plenty of time for reflection and awareness. When I worked in a studio, I taught a class that was rumored a primetime spot. The feedback for me, was when people stopped showing up for my classes, but would make it in droves for the next session. When this happened many times over, I realized that this was my cue. I stopped teaching at this particular studio, but I would have appreciated vocalization and/or support. I didn’t ask for feedback and none was given. Sometimes, people may get up and leave at the beginning of a session. Remember that this is ok – it may hurt, but remember “Not everyone has to love you”. Allow time for feedback. It has helped me become a better teacher and a better person.
- Offer thanks every day
Essential to every morning is a dose of gratitude. Not just to be alive, but to be exactly who you are that day. If you enjoy chanting, do some chanting. If you like to sing, sing. Remember the energy of all those that guided you towards this path. It can be a great feeling to let go and not feel the weight of the world on your shoulders by showing some gratitude.
- You are only a channel
You are not the healer. You are not the teacher. You are simply a medium through which the teachings flow. Treat those around you the way you would treat yourself. Gently, kindly, with love and compassion. With patience. And remember that the energy of the universe flows through you to make YOU who you are in this very moment.
These tools really helped me become better. I hope they help you too.
Oms and Light
All pictures taken off the internet. Thank you to all whose creativity helped inspire me.