Teaching yoga has taught me more about my Self than any other profession prior to it could even come close to – what an adventure! It is a constant learning process – a building up and stripping away of what is no longer needed, learning to lead by example – to live the life I urge others to pursue. The list goes on and on. But, there are some lessons that have stuck with me through the years, that every yoga teacher has either learned themselves or will in the classes to come. These are just ten of them…
1. Everyone wants to be noticed. No one wants to think that they don’t matter or their practice doesn’t matter. When you teach yoga you get to be the witness. If you are truly there, in the present moment, you get to witness some pretty cool stuff – a student’s realization that they actually can do a posture they struggle with, a student changing their mind about the class and beginning again, students moving together, students gaining discipline, and students finding their self worth, just to name a few.
2. Everybody has ups and downs – everybody. Do you think that person on the mat next to you has it all figured out? Believe me everyone is going through something. They might have a gorgeous practice, but that doesn’t mean they started there or that they won’t run into roadblocks as they continue to hit the hot room day after day. They might have trouble in the room, but outside of the studio live a happy, fulfilled life. You never know. Yoga is the great equalizer. Once you hit the heat and stand with your toes and heels together in one line everyone struggles in their own way. You never know, throughout the class your energy might be the one thing someone else needs to make it through. Keep it positive.
3. There is a difference between a hard day and a lazy day. We all have days where we would rather NOT do anything and we all have days where we simply CANNOT do anything. Make a new choice on the days where you would rather not to turn it around. Work for yourself during the yoga class to get more energy into that body of yours and change this day around.
4. When you are ready for a change the Universe will conspire to make that change happen. In yoga, the student will hear the words, or understand the adjustment or correction, when they are ready. There is nothing you can do to speed up someone’s process. Tips are great, but often go unnoticed if you have a tip for every single posture. One of the greatest things when you are a teacher is when a student grasps something for the first time. “You’ve never said that before, have you?” they will say after class. “Everyday,” you will reply and then celebrate with them on their newfound information about the posture and how that information effected their alignment and stamina.
5. Genuinely people do not want to disappoint others, but actually they don’t want to disappoint themselves. The only way you can disappoint me is by not giving it everything you’ve got on that given day. This rarely happens. Most students showed up to do their best, but they don’t understand that their best will be different from day to day and that is seriously, o.k.
6. You are harder on yourself than others will ever be on you. I have never thought, “Wow, so-and-so really sucked it up during class!” EVER. And it will never happen. Yoga is tough stuff people. Quit being so hard on yourself. Be proud of your success in the room and know wherever you felt you fell short you get to try again tomorrow.
7. People do not see the imperfections you see, they generally look for the best in everyone. While you are practicing you are expressing your authentic Self. Embrace that person in the mirror. Let go of what you think everyone else is thinking about you. They are honestly trying to get through the class and only thinking about themselves. It’s you, the mirror, the words, and the heat. That is all.
8. A smile and a kind word go a lot further than you think. It’s easy to be negative, sarcastic, and snarky. That’s what we think anyway. That kind of attitude drains you of all of your energy. Being kind, smiling often, and offering support to those that need it and your attention are huge energy boosters. I love heading into the dressing room after class at my studio. The women in there are always so positive and supportive of one another. They cheer on first time practitioners and always make them feel welcome. When I walk in there I rarely hear gossip or complaining. Their energy is awesome.
9. Every single one of us is truly gifted. Every person in this world has a unique talent and every person will have a natural gift at achieving at least one posture in class. They instinctively get how to accomplish it without too much extra instruction. A person might struggle with every other moment in class, but we all have one posture where it all simply clicks into place, and we all have a skill or talent outside of the hot room that should be shared with the world. Do not hesitate. Go out and share your unique gifts with others.
10. The best job in the world is one in which you not only help others, but you help them see that they are so much more than they ever imagined they could be. When I was at Teacher Training someone asked me what I couldn’t wait to experience once I became a yoga teacher. “Well, I can’t wait to see a student come in for their first class and fall in the love with the yoga, of course. But what I really am excited to see is that student a couple of years down the road and how that single class turned into a great vehicle for change. Maybe they’ll have healed an injury, or maybe they found peace or strength, but it will be so awesome to witness the change.” What I didn’t realize is that it wouldn’t be 1 or 2 students that this would happen for, but so many I think I lost count. We, as teachers, and as I’ve said before we are all teachers in some way, have the possibility to make this world a better place and there is simply nothing as cool as that.
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