I stated in my writing post some time ago that for all the hats I wear in this lifetime, being a teacher is one. I’ve taught horseback riding lessons, I’ve taught just the horses, school age students in a variety grades and topics, friends who wanted to go into business on their own, other teachers, and yoga students. I’ve been a student with some very talented teachers, and others who, though they knew their material, were not gifted with the ability to ‘transmit’ that information.
What I have found, is that no matter where I am, there are certain abilities that good teachers have. One of those is the ability to observe and discern. As a matter of survival, we all can observe, but only some of us can discern when a student is struggling with a math concept and what words need to be spoken in order for comprehension to occur. Others will need to ask several questions and perhaps engage in quite a conversation to figure out where the student is stuck, and then what to do to help them understand. In observing horses, it takes a keen eye to know when one stride is shorter than the other, and whether it is because they are lame and hurting somewhere, or because they are being lazy and not driving from their hindquarters.
It is the same in observing students on their yoga mats. With some experience, a combination of training and aptitude, one can see if a student is working beyond their edge, is just ‘hanging out’, has tightness some place that their misalignment is compensating for, or that they simply don’t know where to put their body parts. Being able to see the basic misalignments will clear up some issues, but being able to observe and discern the level that the student is practicing at, allows the teacher to direct the student in the most appropriate way.
In talking with some of my fellow yoga teachers that graduated in the same class as me, they admit that they are good at asana instruction, but don’t feel comfortable in ‘transmitting’ the philosophy. I find that to separate the two is very difficult. In fact, I find myself sharing the teachings of yoga in every day conversations. The reciprocal also occurs, in that my every day experiences offer me fodder for my philosophical teachings with my students.
In a previous post I mentioned that we were told to ‘teach from where you are’, and I gave several examples of that. I also mentioned that ‘we don’t teach yoga, we teach who we are’. Both of these speak to not just the instruction of alignment in an asana practice, but to go beyond the basic words and ‘transmit’ who we are as teachers and human beings. To share our struggles, shine a light on how yogic teachings assist in our own lives, direct the energy we see as stagnant or stuck in the physical body through the asanas, encourage students to practice the philosophy on the mat, where it is safe, and then be big and take it to other parts of their lives, and even to listen attentively and offer appropriate feedback when a student comes to us for advice are all examples of a good teacher ‘transmitting’ yoga.
To ‘transmit’ means more than just to ‘tell’. There is a sharing, verbal and nonverbal, an observing and responding in kind, a personal interest in the spiritual awakening of one’s students. I don’t believe my gratitude will ever fade for the opportunity to learn what I have through the teacher training program I completed. Because I am a student myself, I know I will continue to learn, to gather knowledge, and use my ability to ‘transmit’ those teachings to others. Teaching truly is an intuitive and creative art. Some of my understanding has taken the form of poems. You can read a few of them on my web site www.myjoyenterprises.com And just this week, you can now find me listed on Yoga Alliance as a CYT500. Namaste.