“In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”
― Phil Collins
We all know what it is like to be in a class and the teacher says the perfect thing for us in that moment or maybe it was just the right asana, pranayama or meditation practice. I’m sure as teachers you have been told you’ve done this by your own students. Sometimes it might be planned and other times it might just happen spontaneously and you don’t even consider what it was or how it happened.
I’m sure you have also been to a yoga class and felt almost used or abused by a teacher and would have preferred to have practiced on your own.
We don’t have to be great or amazing teachers. We need to be ourselves and work within our own boundaries and do and say what feels right to us. We need to find our own voice that inspires the students who choose to practice and share their time with us. You might never have considered the qualities that make up a good teacher, and I’m sure you have many, if not all of them, but these are a few things to consider as you continue on your path as a teacher.
Are you practicing?
Your practice can’t be your teaching. To be an amazing teacher, you need to have a personal practice. A practice that serves your personal needs but also gives you an opportunity to continue to learn about the postures. Your practice will show up in your teaching.
Can you modify?
Do you always expect the same level of student to show up to your class? Do you only teach the postures one way? An inspiring teacher can teach to all levels. It’s not an easy task but an important skill to cultivate. You don’t want anyone to feel left out because you haven’t provided a modification for them to explore and still be a part of the class.
Are you watching?
Do you keep your eyes open? Are you watching your students? Safety is important both in the postures and in how supported your students feel. Keeping your eyes open can help them know you are caring for them. Also providing appropriate language and cuing for alignment and safety is important.
Do you connect?
You might not share all of your story with your students but do you find ways to connect and show you care. Do you remember their names and any limitations or challenges they may have. To you follow-up after class to see how class landed? It’s important to be compassionate in your words and actions.
Are you clear?
Say what you mean. You are asking people to move their bodies, if they don’t understand you, you aren’t doing your job. Practice your anatomical terms like flexion and extension but also use lay-person terms like lift forward and up. Plus, in Pranakriya yoga, we ask people to close their eyes and stay inside. If you are not clear in your languaging you will pull them out of their “inside space” because they are confused and unsure. Once you’ve moved somebody into position, then find your experiential language to help them inquire, discover and focus on their interoception – what’s happening inside.
How do you assist?
We all change with age. I have always and still am a fan of our system of assisting. Using press points provides both an opportunity for you to connect physically with your students in a safe and non-threatening way and for your student to develop better proprio and intero-ception. I have to admit though that I am moving to touching less and less and finding stronger, better, more supportive words to help my students be in their bodies. However you choose to assist, consider why are you assisting and are you being safe?
Do you continue to learn?
Hopefully 200-Hour YTT wasn’t your first and last stop. Even if you aren’t pursuing a 300-hour or yoga therapy or 1000-hour certificate are you continuing to learn? I’ve learned over time that some things do change and there are so many things I don’t know. The more you participate in workshops, trainings (in person or online), take classes from other teachers (in person or online) the more your practice and depth of knowledge will grow. You might never discuss the Hatha Yoga Pradipika with your students but your knowledge and how it shows up in your practice will show up in your teaching.
Are you walking the walk?
I truly believe we teach what we most need to learn. Teaching yoga helps me stay on my own personal path. Let what you teach come from your heart and be genuine.
Jacci is currently mentoring yoga teachers on a wide variety of topics like: sequencing and class planning, alignment, variations and modifications, designing workshops, leading retreats at home and abroad, finding your voice / cuing / languaging and building your business. She offers a variety of mentoring options from a monthly phone call to a more formal program with calls and homework. If you would like to take your teaching to the next level or just need an ear from time to time connect with Jacci here. www.yogawithjacci.com