(bhairavi mudra - internalising version)
I often think that people probably think that yoga teachers have different lives, than they actually do. I only ever knew of one who had a family, a large house which she was mostly responsible for, a partner, taught many excellent classes a week, did all of the advertising, book-work etc, for her yoga business, and managed a daily practice.
Whew! She was unique, for sure. I really admired her.
I find that daily practice is one of the most difficult things for many yoga teachers, to fit into their life. I certainly constantly experienced this, too. Why does this happen?
- Exhaustion. Driving around a city taking classes all over the place, to groups of people with differing needs, is tiring. One is constantly 'giving out', which most yoga teachers do. Because they care about people.
- Taking morning classes, then maybe a mid-morning one, then an evening one or two, leaves very little structured time to fit in some time to do a small practice.
- The biggest obstacle for yoga teachers, I feel, is simply trying to practice too much yoga each day.
One of the ways that I dealt with the chronic exhaustion and stress from trying to fit too much in, in order to make a (humble) living, was to arrive at a venue at least 10 minutes early, and park my car around the corner. I'd push my seat back, drop the back of my seat, close my eyes, let myself go limp, and do a hasta (hand) mudra (gesture), for five to ten minutes. Bhairavi mudra, with the left hand on top of the right. Thumb tips touching.
It was nothing sort of miraculous, as I would become instantly energised, yet completely relaxed. It was my little secret for coping with a massive teaching load.
You can even sit in this position, with your eyes open, whilst your class ambles into the room. It will revive you. And everyone will feel great and inspired that you are so relaxed.
Learning to relax whilst you are teaching, is definitely one of the 'tricks of the trade'. Being calm. Slow down your breathing: it will slow down your brain waves, and make you calmer. Smile: it will also make you feel less tired.
When I was teaching a lot of yoga, I really needed some quiet time. Basically, I would get over hearing the sound of my own voice, and just not want to speak. These periods of being quieter, will also revive and calm you.
Having to talk so much with teaching, especially teaching long week-end workshops, taught me a lot about not expending too much energy when I didn't have to! As a method for being able to be a good teacher. The first Swami - Guru whom I ever met, Dr Swami Gitananda, said that too much unnecessary talking, depletes one's prana. Weakens our life-force. I learnt this decades ago, and have followed this advice most of my life.
But I can offer some tips for being able to talk for hours on end, whilst teaching:
- Talk clearly, and a bit slower.
- Learn how to give verbal instruction for each pose, without non-stop chattering.
- Talk to the back of the room. This is projecting your voice.
- Drop the tone of your voice. A slightly deeper voice is easier to project.
- Have the sensation of your voice as though it is coming up from your navel area (manipura chakra). This will give a strong energy to your voice.
- Manipura is the gateway to our prana sheath, which provides life-force to our whole being, so we are connecting our voice to our life-force.
I know that some yoga teachers do the postures with their students. And this is great, if you are not holding the poses too long. Personally, I prefer to watch people practising, as I like to be able to see who can do what, so that I can modify poses to the overall group.
But, it's not very self-nurturing for some yoga teachers to always do the poses with the class. I always found it exhausting, but you may not. I know that in some gyms, people can expect the teacher to do the whole class with them.
Again, learning how to teach without demonstrating is vital. If you are teaching a class when your throat is sore, you feel unwell, or your ankle is swollen, you will soon find this out! These are the times when it really helps if you can use less words. For example:
Warriors and Triangles: "push your feet down and apart"
This automatically takes the pressure off the knees, and makes the back leg have more of a supporting role, giving your students standing stability. It also means you won't have to add extra about ankle and/or knee locks, lifting kneecaps, pressure on outside edge of the back foot... etc
I am sure that you also have many tips: feel free to share them.