A true teacher must step beyond the boundary of being simply a technician.
Whether on a train, at a dinner party or in the line at the post office, people always ask, “What do you do?”
Most of us reading this website will answer proudly, waiting for the usual look of envy, “I am a yoga teacher.”
But as we know, this answer hardly reflects the depths of our role in the community. For many students, their teachers are confidants, sounding boards about nutrition, someone they can moan to about colleagues, friends or even lovers. The sanctity of the modern yoga study is generated by the coalescing of serene space and trusting people. More than ever the ethics applied in other industries where student/teacher relationships exist must be applied to the yoga industry. Meeting these, and other parameters (like starting and finishing a class on time) is the makings of a—well, a good technician.
You can say the asanas (yoga posture) in Sanskrit, you keep good momentum and help others leave limber, but what about making your students leave awakened and inspired?
This only starts to happen when you are a true teacher, achieved through a deep self-study and knowledge base that extends beyond what you learned at your first 200-hour teacher training. With many people joining the occupation, distinguishing yourself as a teacher may seem increasingly challenging.
To meet the demand from the increase of devout warriors, a yoga teacher must step beyond the boundary of being simply “a technician.” Training someone how to do yoga asana is vastly different than educating someone about what it means to embark on the path of yoga—of total self-realization. Committing to learning about yourself is one of the ways to get beyond this boundary.
Adding things to your teaching toolbox is a critical way of developing your ability to inspire and lead. Conferences and workshops are great places to pick up tips, but those tips are externally driven and other technicians will also walk away with the very same ones. Driving inner awareness and opening yourself to self-exploration is what will set you apart, and enable you to create your own message.
This is the yogic journey: to surpass the teacher that once taught you, so the growth of our collective consciousness grows. Your time has come—keep going.
James Howell rightly observed that, “We learn by teaching.” Critically, the thing to remember is we, as teachers, need to continue learning about ourselves. Getting coached is a great way to delve deeper into our own hearts and minds so that we are a clear, neutral sounding board for our students. So, we’re not just giving advice, but teaching others how to find the answers within themselves.
Becoming a certified Health Yoga Life Coach is a great way to learn methods that can be used both in and out of the teaching environment. Teachers and studio owners find themselves fielding students’ questions after class. Sometimes the questions warrant more than a demonstration of an asana or a suggestion for a meditative CD. Sometimes students want an energetic relationship that needs clearer boundaries in order for their needs to be met. By engaging with students in a coaching relationship, professional and healthy boundaries are established; this also enables teachers to be valued for the work they are truly doing.
Owning a yoga studio has illustrated the vibrant differences between teachers. The biggest consistency is the classes attracting the most students are the ones where the teacher is truly committed to their path of self-discovery. The teachers who work on their own “stuff” are the ones who are engaged in yoga as a journey as opposed to being a specialized fitness instructor.
A true teacher understands life is the biggest opportunity for self-growth.
When a plant outgrows its pot, you replant it to a larger one. Try as you might to shake off the soil from the old pot, much of it clings to the roots. This former soil is then integrated with the new soil in the larger pot, and the plant grows even bigger. Experiences in life do this to each one of us. We either use the old manure for future growth, or the whole thing gets thrown out into the compost heap. The only way the tradition of yoga has continued for centuries is because students learn, develop, mature and become true teachers. It’s time to outgrow your pot.
Vyda Bielkus and her sisters Aida, Zara, and Siga are committed to transforming their own lives and the lives of others through yoga and Health Yoga Life Coaching every day. The sisters own and operate the Health Yoga Life studio in Boston. However they work with clients from all over the world who they coach, and train to become coaches, in their coaching methodology. Together they created the Emotional Responsibility MethodTM to help people shift from reactivity to action. They believe that empowerment and happiness are an achievable aim for everyone they meet. Their offerings include Yoga Teacher Trainings (200 hour and 500 hour), Health Yoga Life Coach Trainings and Workshops/Retreats and Consulting. Learn more at www.healthyogalife.com and www.independentyogi.com
Editor: Sara McKeown