Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Be Human. Be Real. A Reflection On Teaching Yoga

Be Human. Be Real. I find nothing more confusing than being in a yoga class with a teacher who is not really there. I've seen this many times, a teacher will sit down, open their mouth, and all of a sudden a voice that is not their own starts to pour out of their mouth. It is as if they feel that they are not good enough, or their yoga is not real enough to be shared. To me, what makes a teacher real is that they can stub their toe and cry, occasionally fart at inopportune times, and they allow their vulnerabilities to be seen. They are not concerned with upholding some archetypal version of the yoga teacher but they show up as themselves in real live human form.

My favorite yoga teachers are real people. They come into class and share what is on their minds and hearts even if the story doesn't have a tidy and neat ending. They teach from their experience and help students into poses and leave out the clever line, "do what ever is a part of your practice" and teach them how to do the pose. My favorite teachers get into the trenches with their students. They leave the safety of their mats and offer support and move blankets. They watch their students, offer kind words of encouragement, give advice based on their experience, and are there to help.

Being a real human yoga teacher is liberating. As a real human you can make mistakes, you can crack a joke when something funny happens in the classroom, you can wear what you want, and you can stop obsessing about that little bit of belly or thigh fat that the industry says is non-yogic. Screw that. As a human yoga teacher you can relax a bit, slouch on the couch, and best of all you can release the facade that you are somehow better than all of the people who don't do yoga.

In the last year my teaching has evolved. My teaching has simplified and is becoming more grounded in classical sequences and meditation techniques. My personal practice is driven by what I am interested in, and not what I think I should be working on or what I should be teaching. I still love reading and studying yoga texts and I'm now adding the study of my own ancestry to compare and contrast perspectives. Yoga is becoming more grounded for me and is helping me clarify who I am, and who I am not.

So this week's yoga teaching tip is simple. Be human and be real. Try taking a look at the imperfections in your practice and the sometimes messy nature of your life and embrace it. Get into the trenches with your students and let them know that you are human too. Most importantly, be yourself.

As Emerson once wrote, "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment."

Falling out of firefly pose

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