When Your Students Become Your Greatest Teachers. ~ Elizabeth Farrell

Via elephant journal
on Aug 15, 2012
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Something within you propels you to teach, to share, to inspire, to give of yourself, to show up to teach.

Teaching is teaching, no matter what you teach, and it is scary at times. You are on stage before your students. Your students are your divine audience, and they are waiting for you to “teach” and guide them. You step into the space of teaching, where you have to become fully present because “checking out” is not an option.

What is downright frightening is that you are vulnerable yet powerful, which is an incredibly human place to beit’s a place that will give you opportunity to directly impact every single person sitting before you.

The gift of teaching is that your students become your greatest teachers. They inspire you to become more human, more vulnerable, and more aware of yourself. And in that process you evolve with your students.

Teaching yoga, and only yoga, has been a change for me. The main difference between teaching yoga and teaching special education is that my students actually want to show up for class. They have made a choice to be present and engage in learning yoga. This feels radically different. Here, I can relax into the experience of teaching.

As a special education teacher, most of my students didn’t want to come to school, and came to school for reasons of survival (meaning that the free breakfast and lunch might have been their only chance to eat), safety, business and social aspects. In this paradigm of teaching, the effort to teach my students kept me constantly scheming up new ways to engage them and inspire them to learn.

Now, I reflect on how my years of teaching special education directly impacts my style of teaching yoga, which is constantly evolving.

1. A plan is only a plan. Detach from your perfectly created asana sequence because it may change based on your students. Allow them to inspire what you teach and how.

2. Each student has different needs. Provide support where a student needs it. A block, belt, bolsters, the wall can alter a student’s experience in an asana.

3. Keep it simple at first.

4. You might make a mistake and totally mess it all up. You are human. Show your students your humanity.

5. Know deeply where you want to take your students.

6. Feel an asana in your own body and experience, before teaching it.

7. Practice and study what you are going to teach.

8. Everyone can do yoga, create that experience.

And remember, this too is process without an end point.


 Elizabeth Farrell is a yoga teacher, Reiki Master, and writer. She quit her job as a special education teacher after years of working in the inner-city to teach yoga. You can find her online at http://sisterhawkreiki.wordpress.com





Editor: April Hayes


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3 Responses to “When Your Students Become Your Greatest Teachers. ~ Elizabeth Farrell”

  1. AnnMarie says:

    thank you. I experience the same between teaching at a community college yoga class for PE credit and teaching yoga to the community in open classes. It is interesting trying to teach students who do not want to take yoga but just to get the credit to graduate. it's an interesting experience i have to say.

  2. […] I used to see that instant gratification when I could help a swimmer float for the first time. In swimming it was visible. In the classroom you often see growth in high school students over a longer period of time, and sometimes a teacher will never truly know their impact on a student. […]

  3. It is really very interesting and very healthy activity. I also do yoga exercise.