This first year of teaching yoga has been so full of getting out of my own way. Fear slowed me down to an absolute snail (is there a snail pose?) in getting the class started for employees on Friday. I have felt under-trained. I have over-thought every move. My private yoga class has felt the ripple effect of not being grounded, not being focused. I want to move forward with more clarity for myself and my students.
The 200 Yoga Teacher Training I completed last year was not even close to preparing me to be the teacher I want to be. I made flash cards and listened to Sanskrit translations. I colored pages of muscles and ligaments. I drew up some sequences of my own and practiced them in class. I listened to lectures and took notes. I participated. I studied. But nothing, no training can make you a teacher. You have to teach to be a teacher.
My teaching may be very small, but it touches people. I need to remember that. I don’t do touch alignment, I prefer to verbally enhance my student’s pose. There has been the occasional tap on Sunday’s knee to make her aware to adjust her knee over her ankle and not over the mat. On Fridays when I see what needs adjusting I am able to call it out in the regular cueing for everyone. And the offending student always gets the hint. These people rely on me. They rely on me to be knowledgeable. They rely on me to guide them safely. They rely on me to get it right. Some days I really feel it.
I was going through the notes from the Northwest Yoga Conference 2017 when I was reminded that “A good teacher is a conduit. As a teacher it is necessary to stay grounded.” (Seanne Corn).
Another note I wrote for myself said, “Get that vision of myself as the yoga teacher I want to be – then gather those skills.”
Along the journey this year I stumbled onto one of the modern masters, Seanne Corn. She has widened my vision of what I can be in a teacher. I picked up the books she suggested, Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith. That one is so much more than Chakra work. And Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffman. I’ve been digesting them.
I was given a great compendium of asanas that succinctly writes instruction for the breath work and the ‘feel’ of each posture, The Complete Book of Vinyasa Yoga by Srivatsa Ramaswami. I remember things best when I read them. From this book I have gained a new respect for postures I have practiced for decades. Each week I have been able to incorporate nuances into these “old” postures for my students. The postures have become new again for me. There is a freshness is trying Uttanasana with arms outstretched.
I have so much more to digest and make part of me. I keep referring to Yoga Anatomy by Leslie Kaminoff and Amy Matthews. The pictures with the muscles and ligaments highlighted is clear and concise. I will need another copy before long.
To be that teacher that I want to be will only happen with my own grounding and stillness. It’s not a matter of confidence. I have the confidence to stand up in front of a group, or to work one-on-one. What I want is effort and ease for myself. I didn’t hear it, but Erich Schiffman has said, “…so filled with yoga it fills the room.” With that I also want to be well-rounded, accessible, understood and understanding.
Theory and practice. Enjoy the book, then apply it. Some things can’t be taught, they have to be experienced. Teaching is one of those. And breathing. We have to experience that singular life thing. Continue to breathe.