July 30, 2014

The Most Important Teaching Tip for Yoga Teachers. ~ Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee Yoga

Two-hundred hours seems like a lot, especially when you are smack dab in the middle of a yoga teacher training program.

This can be melt down time for many trainees as they face the reality that the more you learn about yoga, the more you realize you can never learn it all.

Mr. Iyengar reminded us of how deep and wide yoga is when he said, “Yoga is an ocean.” The ocean is used as analogy for patience in Mahayana Buddhism’s Path of the Bodhisattva.

Bodhi means awake and Sattva means existence. So, a Bodhisattva is a person who lives an awakened life with the aspiration to help others awaken, too, no matter how long it takes, even more than 200 hours!

This is also one way to think about being a good yoga teacher; to understand that when we are teaching, that is our practice. When we are on the mat, we are engaged in asana practice. But when we are in front of a group of yoga students on their mats, then our practice is that of teaching.

Our job is to pay attention to our students and they become our dots of awareness. They keep us awake and then we cycle that sense of presence back to them.

Yoga class becomes a feedback loop of shared wakefulness. As the teacher, whole-hearted enthusiasm can spur us to share everything we know all at once, but the ocean of patience will help us see how and when to unfold our instructions, moment by moment.

This practice of teaching yoga is a challenging and valuable one. So, naturally, we need more than 200 hours to really learn how to become a confident yoga teacher, full of compassion and clear intention. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to share some of what I’ve learned over 30 years of teaching.

I’ve created a few videos offering Teaching Tips for Yoga Teachers. This video, “Don’t Teach What You Know, Teach What They Don’t Know!” is the number one tip for new yoga teachers.



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A.M. Aug 20, 2014 3:31am

Nice one. Thank you! x

amphibi1yogini Jul 31, 2014 4:20pm

Your book, "May I Be Happy" could be great bibliotherapy for someone who is partially arrested of disordered eating… if you've gone through the zealous yoga teacher's litany of promoting cleanses or light spa diets from time to time, … then you are talking your walk–saying what you know …

Now, you admit that it is more important to walk your talk, instead–and say what the student does NOT know–which could even include something you are getting to know, yourself …

You have looked to and come out the other side …

Every day of this journey is Day #1 …

cyndi lee Jul 31, 2014 2:16pm

Hi Greg, So glad this is relevant to your work and a helpful reminder. Yes, we do all move forward together — thanks for that reminder. cyndi

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Cyndi Lee

Cyndi Lee is the first female Western yoga teacher to fully integrate yoga asana and Tibetan Buddhism in her practice and teaching. Founder of NYC’s influential OM yoga center, Cyndi now teaches workshops and teacher trainings worldwide. Author of the yoga classic, Yoga Body Buddha Mind, her newest book is May I Be Happy: A Memoir of Love, Yoga and Changing My Mind.  You can connect with her on her website Cyndi Lee.