Three Keys to Authentic Yoga Teaching

May 19, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

The three keys to yoga teaching success are: 

 

1)showing up over and over again

2)offering your whole vulnerable-imperfect-human self

3)channeling the cumulative consciousness of the day so that your offering comes from a tapping into something larger than yourself, rather than the ego.

 

All of the anatomy, cuing, sequencing, Sanskrit, philosophy and even to some extent, the theme weaving, can be more or less taught; but, as I once heard retired Boston Celtics player, Kevin McHale say, "You can't coach effort." And the three keys to success really come from putting in the effort.  It's not easy to show up to classes with only one or two people for a few years, and still bring it vulnerable style, but if you do, those one or two people will come back, and then they will tell their friends, and then they will start coming with their friends, until eventually, your community--those interested in what you have to offer--will grow. 

 

1) Showing up is key.  If you sub out your classes all the time, your one or two students will get the sense that you aren't really that interested, and they'll go somewhere else.  Show up, remember names, and commit to your class like its your lover. Dote over it.  Think about it. Make it pie.  Bring it flowers, literally. Bring flowers into your class and just notice how that little bit of attention changes things. Oh, and say a little gratitude prayer that you have a class at all, because these days, in the highly competitive yoga market, getting on a schedule is a blessing unto itself. 

 

2) Offer you! in all of your imperfect, vulnerable and quirky awesomeness. I had a brand new student tell me recently that they were so grateful that I talked like a human rather than like a yoga teacher. I laughed and asked what she meant, and she said that she felt human in my class, like we were practicing in the field of being human. This slayed me. In the yoga classroom, we are still in the field of humanity. We are simply engaging in the ritual of yoga practice together so that we might suffer less--in our bodies, in our minds and in our spirits--and turns out, it works. It doesn't mean that we need to use a different "yoga" voice, talk about high-minded, woo-woo topics, in Sanskrit every single time we walk in the door. In fact, if we do that, we alienate ourselves from a greater connection with our students.  Don't get me wrong, I love me some woo-woo, just ask my psychic; but, most of the time, when I simply come in and share something I learned through the vehicle of my struggling marriage, my teenager, or even my garden, students will come up after class and mention that they feel less alone. They didn't know anyone else felt that way, "people don't talk about: love, darkness, fear, joy, anger, quitting smoking, _________," and now, hearing someone else is in their camp, they can have more compassion for themselves.  It's a win win, but operating in this realm is not always easy. Attempting to talk about the real stuffing of our human relationships is a skill to be honed over a course of years, and its worth it.  Start slow. Be the one to share things that make you feel uncomfortable and more alive. The not-easy part of of this kind of giving makes it worth it. And, this is important, give yourself a break when you have nothing to say. Don't fake it. Living in the land of having nothing to say is way more human than making something up. So, if we show up AND bring our humanness in the door with us, rather than leaving it behind because we are a "yoga teacher," a rich connection will be cultivated that will get people out of bed, through the door and into your class again and again. 

 

3) Channel it baby!!  I mentioned I like woo-woo stuff, right? Well, this key goes there--to wooland--just a little bit, but bear with me, it will make sense in the end. For times sake, as this is a large subject, I'll explain how I do it, and then you can explore for yourself.

 

I wake up in the morning and before my classes, I go inward.  Sometimes this looks like writing, taking a jog, meditation, asana practice, or simply lying still for a few quite minutes after my husband, the dog and my child have exited the bed.  To be clear, this pause doesn't have to be a big deal, but it does have to be an intentional practice done over and over again with curiousity and enthusiasm. Once quiet, I feel around inside of me, without judgement, simply interested. From that place I move outward into the world, sensing, tapping into the cumulative conciousness of the day. And then I ask--What does this day need?  What could I offer my students so that they feel connected, enlivened, balanced and creative when they walk out of class, go out into their day and make their offering to the world.  Sometimes I receive an answer, sometimes I don't.  More often, as I have practiced this for a long time, I get something, some little nibben to plan the class around.  

 

This does not mean I don't plan my classes. I do, everyday, but it does mean I let go of complete control and embrace the possibility of the day.

 

It's easy to get caught up in what we are into, and only want to teach that, because it's fun and inspiring, and...well, it's what we're into; however, I have found, over time, that a more sustainable yoga classroom comes from dipping into the sea of connection and honoring what we find there, so that our offerings come from tapping into something larger than ourselves. 

 

Love Hive Yoga teacher training starts this autumn, September, 2016.  It's led by me and Jessica Garay. You will learn more about these kinds of teachings as well as anatomy, philosophy, teaching methods, creative sequencing, and social justice.   Click here to learn more. Accepting applications now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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