How do other teachers lead a class with such ease and grace?
I’ve been “teaching” Hatha yoga for the past four years. The landscape changes between a gym, a yoga studio and private sessions.
Every moment of teaching is an opportunity to learn new ways to teach and perhaps even discover things within myself that would have otherwise lay dormant.
I’ve struggled with teaching, even to the point of saying to myself time and time again, “I don’t want to teach anymore.” This statement comes from a sense of frustration and lack of self-confidence.
You see, when I see a classroom filled with people ranging in ages, genders, and (dis)abilities, I am unsure as to how to accommodate them. Do I change the flow? Do I interrupt the flow to set a student up with props, which will inevitably result in some students getting a bit pissed off at me for making them hold the pose? Or do I simply play ignorant?
It would be so easy if I had a classroom full of “me’s,” with the same mind, same tightness, same openness, etc. But that would eventually get boring.
Every teaching opportunity is just that—an opportunity. Like a yoga pose, it’s a chance to assess, commit the mind, and focus. Time to re-establish the foundation and grow to new heights. Time to discover and unleash within yourself knowledge and wisdom that comes with experience.
I took note of the practices of three distinct generations of individuals this past Sunday, marveling at the similarities within each age group. With a somewhat limber physique, a bit more ego, restless energy and mind to dissolve, I practiced the Ashtanga method. The ’40s generation, a strong and well-seasoned yoga practitioner, practiced what appeared to be an “organic” flow. The ’70s generation…hmmm… I’m not too sure what he was doing. Poses here and poses there, of which sirsasana (headstand) and vrschikasana (forearm scorpion) made guest appearances.
As I watched, I became certain of two things:
My mind is still in training.
The common thread through all our practices was the noticeable audible breath.
Ah…the breath. The real foundation of the practice. The breath that ebbs and flows on the mat. The breath that constantly reminds us to shift into presence. The breath that gives us the knowing of acceptance. The breath that carries us to the other end of discomfort. The breath that unites our body, mind and spirit.
Perhaps this notion of breath can be the cornerstone of my teaching as well.
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Assistant Ed: Renee Picard/Ed: Brianna Bemel