8 December 2016

looking after yourself as a yoga teacher

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Yoga at home

I know that I often go on & on about this, but, for ethics sake, if one is teaching something like meditation, or postures...then one should really be doing some practice themselves.

And we all have times when this is difficult to do:

  • such as when we have injuries
  • or a family member is unwell
  • the kids are so little that you are lucky enough to even get a shower
  • or you have been sick, in which case...no poses, etc, is the order of the day.

Difficulties around teaching

Teaching yoga is really easy on one hand..... if, for example:

  • there is no-one with any injuries in your class (which really is rare), 
  • you don't take many classes, 
  • or perhaps you don't have to travel far to teach. 
These are seldom the case, however. I travel far & wide to teach, & I know that others do too. And I teach quite a few classes. These factors are quite tiring. But, we yoga teachers do need to keep our energy up!

Depending on doing our own asanas whilst taking a class, is exhausting. Well, I find it so, so I assume that others do, too. I know that doing everything with the class means that we will give phenomenal classes...bit it's too tiring. We need another way of working out what & how to teach.

The best way to learn how to teach

  • Ultimately it is through our own practice that we learn what works. 
  • How it works, & why it works. 
That, plus watching our students in a class, which teaches us: 

  • about skeletal shapes, 
  • what different proportions of bone structures can do, 
  • & also what is difficult for different types of bodies.
Our own practice is our teacher

And,  it is by gently resuming practice (sadhana) after injury or illness,

  • that we also learn what to do for students who have had injuries or physical difficulties, 
  • & how to adjust things to accommodate these. 
It is by only having a short amount of free time in which to practice, that we learn:

  • what really does work, 
  • for what circumstances, 
  • & why. 
  • What to emphasize. 
  • What is "icing on the cake".

I have always felt that telling students what to do in a class when you never practice yourself, is like telling your child to eat their greens when you don't. And I too have had periods when sadhana was just not happening. I would expect that all yoga teachers have "breaks" also. 

Even just a small practice, is ok

But, overall, our own sadhana is extremely important. If you can only manage 1 round of surya namaskara (sun salute) each morning, & the bridge pose, or 1/2 shoulderstand & a 5 minute "meditation" at night....so be it!

You will end up wanting to add a bit more. Simply because it will all make you feel so much better than how you usually feel. 

And, if you have time & are teaching a lot.....make yourself a 20 minute yoga nidra tape, on your phone, & aim to do it every day if possible, to keep your energy levels up. Even if that is your main sadhana practice.

The easiest and best techniques

Another excellent thing to fit in as a yoga teacher, is to incorporate the yamas/observances & niyamas/codes of conduct. How can one possibly fit all that into an already crowded life? Simply by being a decent, honest person who aims to be kind. That will do it.

There is another practice that one can incorporate. This the practice of mouna, or silence. It means, on a simplified daily level:

  • of not wasting our speech. 
  • not doing unnecessary talking. 
This simple practice gives far more energy than one could imagine. When I take a lot of classes, I am so over the sound of my own voice! But that's not the real reason for mouna. Excessive talking is believed to dissipate our prana, our life-force. Any time that we can hold onto our prana, we are keeping our energy levels up. And this is the easiest way to do it.

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