Reflections on Teaching Yoga

Teaching is teaching. No matter what you teach. Something within you propels you to teach, to share, to inspire, to give of yourself, to show up to teach. Teaching is scary at times. You are on stage before your students. Your students are your divine audience, and they are waiting for you to “teach” and guide them. You step into the space of teaching, and become fully present in the moment, where you cannot “check out”. What is downright frightening is that you are vulnerable yet powerful, incredibly human, and will directly impact every single person sitting before you. The gift of teaching is that your students become your greatest teachers. They inspire you to become more human, more vulnerable, and become more aware of yourself. And, in that process you evolve with your students.

Teaching yoga, and only yoga, has been a change for me. The main difference between teaching yoga and teaching special education is that my students actually want to show up for class. They have made a choice to be present and engage in learning yoga. This feels radically different. Here, I can relax into the experience of teaching. As a special education teacher, which I’ve written about before, most of my students didn’t want to come to school, and came to school for reasons of survival (meaning that the free breakfast and lunch might have been their only chance to eat), safety, and/or for business, and social aspects. In this paradigm of teaching, the effort to teach my students kept me constantly scheming up new ways to engage them and inspire them to learn.

Now, I reflect on how my years of teaching special education directly impacts my style of teaching yoga, which is constantly evolving.

1. A plan is only a plan.  Detach from your perfectly created asana sequence. It may change based on your students. Allow them to inspire what you teach and how.

2. Each student has different needs. Provide support where a student needs it. A block, belt, bolsters, the wall can alter a student’s experience in an asana.

3. Keep it simple at first.

4. You might make a mistake, and totally mess it all up. You are human. Show your students your humanity.

5. Know deeply where you want to take your students.

6. Feel an asana in your own body and experience, before teaching it.

7. Practice and study what you are going to teach.

8. Everyone can do yoga, create that experience.

And, remember this too is process without an end point.

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