January 24, 2013

Teaching Yoga: Staying True.

I teach seven days a week, and I love it.

Before I taught, I worked in offices and moved between dejection, misery and indifference. When the job was new, it was interesting—especially while I learned the ropes, maybe for three months or so. Then the monotony and politics set in and I would be unhappy and unfulfilled.

So how do I stay true to teaching and what I see as the spirit of yoga?

How do I not teach like a robot?

I had an interesting conversation with a friend and fellow teacher who claims we all teach from routine sometimes.

I disagree.

I disagree because I am always feeling my feelings.

I am always teaching to the class or person before me.

When my personal practice lapses, and that happens, the sequences may lack imagination. I confess to that. But my students let me know if that is the case and my humor rarely leaves me.

Yoga to me is how I engage.

There have been moments when I did not know I was grumpy till I started teaching. And I have taught classes where impatience has led because I did not even realize I was stressed.

It is embarrassing, to say the least, only because yoga assumes a certain degree of awareness; in actuality I have my blind spots and don’t always know when my energy is off till I attempt to share it.

But I engage my students from my heart, wherever it is, every time.

I stay true by doing my best to teach from love. My goal is to offer a positive experience, so the students leave feeling better, in their body and mind and heart.

I am convinced a great teacher can infuse shoe-tying with meaning.

And yoga is rich with metaphor, even in a class that is based on the poses. The focus for me is to share how to use the body skillfully and how to move with the breath. For a new student, just breathing is enough. For a more advanced student, learning the ins and outs of their own body with breath becomes the focus.

More than anything, I want my students to listen to their body and heart and breath.

Some days I am stressed with my own life. But maybe I talk about being happy for no reason. Maybe I talk about moving into the parasympathetic nervous system, the tend and  befriend system of our body. Maybe I focus on the sequence. And I would say I always find a way or reason to laugh at myself, if no one else.

And maybe I use my problems as the teaching tools so others know that we all struggle. Perspective is everything and it is easy to lose when overwhelmed.

So I would have to say my teaching is never routine.

My feelings vary from moment to moment and day to day.

Yoga, to yoke, to bring together…I lead with my heart and feel with my eyes as I read my students and my class. There is not a moment when I am indifferent or miserable.

I care every time.


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Ed: Brianna Bemel

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