Dear Yoga Teachers, Please Stop Teaching Yoga! ~ Jacquelyn Rae

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>  Allow Yourself to Be Here. 

Yoga Teachers please, for the love of yoga, stop teaching!

We find yoga teachers everywhere nowadays. In a mere 200 hours, you too can be a yoga teacher. Perhaps that is what is wrong with yoga these days.

It’s not necessarily that anyone can be a yoga teacher that I find disturbing. What I find more troublesome is that after a short 200-hour course and armed with a certificate, we license “teachers” that all too often do not have the necessary tools to truly teach the science of yoga.

So to solve this problem, I ask the following of all yoga teachers:

Please, for goodness sakes, stop teaching yoga!

Don’t shut me down just yet. First, let me elaborate!

When I first began teaching yoga, I was very nervous in my classes.

Every day I would wonder:

Would my students like my class?

What if I didn’t know what to do next?

What if I didn’t know the answer to all of the questions?

What if I forgot the Sanskrit name of an Asana? OMG!

At that time I voiced my concerns to a friend, karma yogi, and my future training instructor. She gave me the best advice I could have as a new yoga teacher. She said,

“Don’t worry about teaching. Just share your practice.”

Yes! So simple!

That is what I have done and continue to do. It was almost five years ago that I was given that advice. It has made me a better teacher, though I cannot take any credit for my teachings because I am simply sharing my practice.

So how do you teach a great yoga class? Stop trying to teach at all!

Share your practice, not your ego.

When we focus on teaching, on imparting our knowledge to another, or educating another, we are in fact declaring that we are somehow superior to that person. That “I know more than you” attitude. That’s the ego.

Ego rules when we fall into the self-imposed role of teacher. Let it go.

Let yourself fall into the category of student right along with your class.

Share your practice!

When you let go of the role of teacher and begin to share your personal practice, everything will naturally fall into place. When you are genuine in your intention to not teach, your students will notice the difference. They will feel the difference in your attitude, in your voice, in your actions, in your intention.

Be genuine! It’s all about your intention.

When it is your intent to share, rather than to teach, a whole universe of possibilities opens up. When you let go of trying to have all of the answers, your ego will take a backseat, and you can truly be genuine with your students.

Students will always ask questions. It is okay to not have all the answers.

You’re a yoga teacher not a sage so stop trying to have all the answers. Stop trying to answer all the questions, and instead answer from a place of love and compassion even if it means simply saying, “I don’t know.”

As teachers we are our biggest students. When we simply share our own practice, we may have the answers for some questions, and for those we don’t, it gives the opportunity for growth and humility in our own practice. Your students will respect you more for it.

Share your practice!

When you share your practice your students will feel the difference in the poses. You do not have to worry about the flow, or the sequence of the postures, you already know how they feel when they flow. You know how to stay steady in the pose, you know already how it makes you feel. So stop trying to sell all of the textbook information about the pose and speak from a place of experience.

How does the pose make you feel? Share that!

Share your practice!

You’re not perfect, so share that. Share your imperfections.

Can’t touch your toes? Share that.

Can’t stand on your head? Share that.

Did it take you months, weeks, years to grasp a certain yoga posture, meditation, pranayama (breathing exercise)? Share that!

Share your imperfections. It will help your students to understand theirs. They will understand that practice takes patience and they will thank you for it.

Share your practice, don’t show your practice!

As a teacher, share your practice, but please do not practice with your students. Help them to understand your practice.

Watching you in your perfect pose is not helping them to understand what is happening in their body or mind.

Tell them where to be, give them your attention. Do not expect them to know what is happening in your mind, on your mat. You are the teacher and now is your time to “teach.” Use your words, demonstrate if need be, but do not do your practice with them. Don’t show them your practice. Share with them your practice.

Share your practice!

In order to share your practice, you must first have a practice.

This is so important for newly graduated students to know. Some will come out of their 200-hour YTT course with a solid practice to share. Some on the other hand will come out more confused than when they went in, unsure about how to set up a class and how to practice. Perhaps their teachers were just teaching rather than sharing their practice.

Before you can begin to share your practice, you must first have a practice.

So practice! Get to know how you feel in your practice. You will be a better yoga teacher once you understand and can share your own practice. When you are ready to teach, don’t teach! Simply share your practice.

When you simply stop teaching and start sharing, your classes have the ability to instantly transform. You will be viewed as a more confident yoga teacher by your students. You will create a space for personal growth in your students that neither you nor them knew was possible before. By simply sharing your own practice you let ego go by the wayside, and step into the space of giving. From that space of giving, all things are possible.

So share your practice!

Thank you to my wonderful Teachers. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing your beautiful practice with me!

Relephant:

Confessions of Bad Yoga Teacher.

 

 

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Author: Jacquelyn Rae

Apprentice Editor: Kim Haas/ Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo: elidr/Flickr

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Jacquelyn Rae

Jacky Rae believes that Ayurveda and Yoga as therapy are pillars of transformation and personal growth. She’s a dedicated mother of two amazing boys, writer, blogger, world traveler & entrepreneur and the Co-Founder of Yoga Veda Life, an International School that is dedicated to promoting conscious living by providing tools for life as taught in traditional hatha yoga and Ayurvedic medicine. Together with her partner, they offer certified Ayurveda Yoga Teacher Training Courses both Foundational (RYT 200) and Advanced (RYT 300/500) as well as a 100 hour Ayurvedic course by the San Diego College of Ayurveda. She also offers year round Panchakarma and Ayurvedic Detox, Sacred Breath and Wellness Retreat programs in Monte Vista Retreat Center on the island of Koh Phangan, Thailand as well as in Yoga Veda Life’s B&B style retreat in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico on the beautiful Lake Chapala. Connect with Jacky Rae on Facebook and LinkedIn, check out her Blog, or Yoga Veda Institute.

 

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anonymous Sep 28, 2015 4:41pm

Hi Abigail! Great Photo! I didn't send it in, it was the editors who loved your pic!

anonymous Jan 27, 2015 11:46am

Several friends have shared this article with me, as I am the person in the image in ekapadarajakapotasana. While I do agree with much of what you are saying, I do not agree with the use of a professionally taken photo of a yoga teacher used as an example of showing off, nor do I appreciate being associated with this article without my permission nor credit for the work of the professional photographer who took the photo for me to use for my own marketing purposes. I have written to elephant journal asking the photo be removed, as it was used without my permission and is a photo I own.

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 10:08pm

Being the Guide leading from the side as opposed to the Sage on stage. Great article 🙂

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 4:08pm

'If you want to learn a thing, read that. If you want to know a thing, write that; if you want to master a thing, teach that.' – Yogi Bhajan

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 4:06pm

‘If you want to learn a thing, read that. If you want to know a thing, write that; if you want to master a thing, teach that.’ – Yogi Bhajan

anonymous Jan 26, 2015 5:52am

I love this article – thanks for sharing it. I find getting caught up in wondering which accredition and style is ‘best’ to train in -is sometimes the easiest way to loose passion! I am guilty of this- I also wonder if doing a bwy conversion course will feel more ‘valid’ despite practising pretty much every day. I’m sure in time it may be useful to enrol on but for the right reasons not the politics of it or for the ego. If we were here a thousand life times we still wouldn’t know everything about yoga, so it could be a struggle for the perfectionist and worrier who needs to get it right and give all the answers! I think its about being genuine and having a sense of care . It’s a simple but profound prospect to share and not teach – wonderful ! X

anonymous Jan 25, 2015 9:19pm

Article was good and I get what you’re saying, but did your first two paragraphs really need to be that negative? We all start somewhere and we’re all “teachers” (as you say). I just finished my 200 hour training a few months ago and have decided to not go straight into teaching classes because I still feel as if I need to work on my own practice a little more. And I realize that. Your article gave great perspective…really, I liked what you were trying to say. But please think twice about the negativity you threw at us in the beginning, at least if you want to allow new teachers to feel good about their huge accomplishment (training is more than a “mere” 200 hours! We all worked so so hard. You should know this). All that aside, thank you for your perspective.

anonymous Jul 4, 2014 6:32pm

I feel like this even though i identify my self as a teacher in Kundalini Yoga, I personally detach my self and allow the other teacher, or energy channel through me when i teach. so i am really just sitting back and watching the events unfold. the saying that always help calm my nerves and let go of my ego before every class our teaching is, I am not a woman, I am not a Man, I am not a person, I am not my self, I am a Teacher. and then i go and teach. its like The great link with the truth of teachers is present and even thing else fades away. I also have my own practice for an hour every morning. And i feel being a teacher is just about growing. To say stop teaching and start sharing just doesn't sit right with me. i think we just need to find the truest truth from every practice and teach that and share our experience of that because every one will feel it differently just my two cents on this. Sat Nam

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 9:09pm

Amen! My favorite line in this article is "Before you can begin to share your practice, you must first have a practice." And then there's, "Share your practice, don’t show your practice!" As yoga teachers we are yoga teachers, not entertainers.

anonymous Apr 13, 2014 9:42am

A friend sent me this post because that's my picture in the teal pants! I'm glad to have my image associated with a blog I agree with:) Specifically that to teach, we must have a practice, and that the perfect, fancy poses, are not necessarily going to teach your students. Thank you! http://www.abigailclarkeyoga.com

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 9:51pm

Thank you for sharing this, I will grow from it! I always say the reason I "teach" is because I love my own practice. Sharing my practice is truly what I believe I am doing!

anonymous Apr 12, 2014 1:00pm

Very interesting debate on this topic. I was telling a young teacher, who loves Ashtanga and she should, she's in her 20's and in the young modern chaotic country we call the US, she should celebrate her own journey through the first series. I told her if you have an experience during your practice, then that's the beginning of an involution, figuring out who we are a bit more, so that we can works towards an evolution. For me, this is how I teach through my experiences, not of reference but of our Sadhana. So yes, I agree, share your practice. Teach students, don't teach poses. Teach about what didn't feel right doing this, that and the other thing, etc. In reality, we are teaching asana in group settings, but realistically, we can only truly teach yoga from our experience one on one or less than five. Anyway, that's my two cents :-))))))

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 10:01am

This is very useful. =)

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 8:23am

Thank you. I find your perspective nurturing and heartfelt.

Anyway…TRUST…the universe always has a way of working it out. Trust that every student will get the teacher that it needs at the moment…and viceversa.

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 6:32am

Also, take a student-focused approach. Most of these are all "I/me" things. If we actually think about what our students need, what our students want from their time/money investment to learn yoga — things go a lot better. You become a much more popular teacher because you are a much more effective teacher.

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 5:56am

not everyone is confident about their mission, and that is what yogis teach <3

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 5:22am

I'm sorry, but I really don't get the idea behind any teaching nor sharing expirience of a practice, that you actually don't know. As you wrote about yourself, you are not a yogi, so why do you insist of taking other people in a path you don't know?

    anonymous Apr 11, 2014 8:17am

    So you are writing that YOU KNOW…and thats exactly the reason why I would not follow

    anonymous Apr 12, 2014 7:55pm

    HI Nuvitsur, No one has all of the answers, even the most experienced teachers. Yogic philosophy is far to broad and deep to ever have ALL the answers. The purpose behind this article is to invite teachers to step out of the role of teaching and share with their students the most beautiful and intimate part of their yoga, their own practice. That is the space of understanding. Anyone can take a training and be a teacher. Even a 12 year old. So we cannot ask that only enlightened sages teach, that is not the reality in which we are living. But we can ask that our teachers are real, authentic and sharing from the heart.
    As for your personal question? I may not have all of the answers, but yes, I do enjoy sharing the many benefits that yoga and Ayurveda have given me, and I do not pretend to do anything other than that.

    Thanks for your comment 🙂

anonymous Apr 11, 2014 4:52am

I find I am the most relaxed and comfortable and classes flow easily when I am myself and share my personal practice I sometimes thought it was wrong to share my struggles w postures and that I am by far not a pretzel flexible yogi as compared to many yoga teachers in my area. But it does not seem to matter. The students seem to like the fact that I am like them I have learned to be true to myself and to them over these brief 5 years as a teacher. And my teacher was adamant that I did not do the practice w them but just demonstrate so luckily I learned and found my voice very early on. Good luck to all as we continue to learn as we teach. Great article.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 11:57pm

Amen :).

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 9:12pm

I love this article. I am a yoga teacher myself but guess what….I DON’T have a 200 hour cert. I’ve taken a level 1 course (over just 3 days), a kids yoga course, and been to a few great workshops over the years. I read a lot and try to stay energized in my own practice.

I cringe when anyone brings up the 200 hour thing because I’m a little embarrassed to tell them I don’t have that. I’ve been teaching for almost 10 years and unfortunately have not had the opportunity (time, money, location, etc) to get my 200 hour RYT. I have to remind myself hey….you can’t demonstrate a perfect handstand (or headstand for that matter) but you’re a single mom, you put yourself through nursing school, you pay your own bills…..it’s OK.

But guess what? I’m a DAMN good teacher and I know it. I know I can improve too but can’t we all? I always thought maybe I was a good teacher because I was a performer in high school and am very comfortable speaking in front of a crowd.

After reading your article though I know it’s because I share my practice. Thank you so much for the eye opener and confidence booster!

    anonymous Apr 12, 2014 4:00pm

    you're probably a great teacher because you work for your practice – you don't take it for granted – resulting in the compassion needed to create the space and grace for your students to heal and grow. as practitioners we all have our unique yoga journey – i believe this also applies to us a teachers. brava! 🙂

    anonymous Apr 12, 2014 6:50pm

    Right on! You don't have to be certified to be a "good" yoga teacher.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 6:48pm

Very right, share your practise, but the problem is very few people have a practise and by this I mean a practise in which you don't use a DVD, or the internet or go to a yoga class; it is a personal practise in which you let your body tell you exactly what you need in that moment. That is how you can start understanding what the students are going through and how to better guide them. Most of the people who go for teacher trainings haven't had a long time practise, which is what provides you with the understanding of all the changes that the body and mind go through during the practise. Everyday is a different body we deal with in our practise and in our teaching.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 6:40pm

Wow, this has helped me more than you know 🙂 thank you thank you thank you.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 4:54pm

Dear bloggers, please stop writing blogs. Actually I think it is crazy that there is no standard when it comes to teaching yoga. But it is up to students to do the research and find someone who is well studied and expert in the field. At the end of the day every industry – blogging included, is inundated with people who are under-talented and simply trying their hand at something.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 3:52pm

THANK YOU . GREAT!

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 10:59am

Right on! This is really it, and exposes to us as teachers and students when we are in disconnect with our practice (share that!), when we are in full ecstatic love with it (share that too!). I'm learning this. Knowing that who I am as a teacher (and student) is the practice I embody, it exposes my own insecurity about my practice, that I am not dedicated enough, not courageous enough, not strong enough etc. But these are exactly the insights that will lead us to healing. It takes a long time. It has ups & downs. A practice is a highly personal thing and sometimes difficult to put into words. But without a doubt, yoga has opened my life to healing, love, beauty, possibility, complexity, fun, deep fulfilling interest…it is a practice and a relationship and I love it. Thank you.

anonymous Apr 10, 2014 9:14am

I think this is a great perspective and the most effective way for me to learn from others.