Back in the day, when I first started attending yoga regularly I have to confess that I scheduled my life around what teacher was taking the podium that day. There were teachers that I loved and admired that would have me rearranging my schedule just to take their class. And on the other side of the coin there were a few teachers I have to admit I avoided for a number of reasons – they were too hard, too intense, too strict, too uninspiring, maybe I didn’t like their speaking voice, or they simply talked too much. The list could go on. I liked who I liked and that was that. I had preferences and choices to make that were mine to make.
Every once in a while I would land in one of these teachers classes on accident, arriving at the studio thinking I was going to have someone else lead me through the practice, discovering throughout the next 90 minutes that they weren’t so bad after all. What was my problem? They had changed or I had changed. Maybe I was in a better mood, maybe they were in a better mood. Who knows?
Eventually, it didn’t matter who was on the podium or leading class. I simply wanted to practice. I only had so much time and the open time I had would be given to whoever would lead me through. I was becoming my own teacher. The yoga was my responsibility to see through to the end and outside factors were just that – outside. I was finding that each teacher offered me something different throughout their class and would put focus on techniques and things that varied from the rest. They were unique and brilliant in their own way once I realized I was open to learning what they had to teach.
And then…I went to Teacher Training and became a teacher that people loved and hated, admired and deplored. A teacher that people had an opinion on as to whether they liked my class or not. Was it Karma? Maybe…
Since then I have heard the following comments from students:
“I used to hate you when I first started and now you are my favorite.”
“I saw you were teaching and had to come in for class!”
Shocked face as they notice I’m at the desk, “Oh, you’re teaching today?”
“When are you teaching tomorrow? I need to take your class again.”
“I always work so hard when you are teaching.”
“You push and push and push. I’m always worn out after your class.”
“I feel amazing – great class!”
See where I’m going with this? Everyone has a different take on you and your instruction. If you are a teacher, I suggest you know who you are and what you want your students to know and work to make that as clear and accessible as possible. Find a way to connect with everyone that walks through the studio doors. It is inspiring to see a person show up for themselves day after day. That’s why we do this.
If you are a student, understand we, as teachers are constantly evolving as you are also evolving with the yoga. We are working to craft better classes and learn new teaching techniques to better deliver the yoga to you. Learning does not stop once we are out of Teacher Training. Teacher Training is the basics. We are constantly working within our practice and with teachers that have greater experience to become better at what we do.
Teachers lead classes because they are incredibly passionate about teaching yoga and passing it on in the hopes of making your world and ultimately the world a better place. It is a calling as most passion jobs are – it’s almost as if we can’t help ourselves, we love it that much. If you have a teacher that challenges you in a new way – embrace that. I urge you to take their class once a month. See what happens. Nothing may change. Their class might be exactly the same. But you might change. You might start seeing that you are stronger mentally and emotionally than when you first started. The things that bothered you before start to float away. It is just you, on the mat, wrapped in a sense of gratitude for having found this practice.
And teachers, if you feel stuck in a rut with your teaching, it’s up to you make it better. Challenge yourself – get feedback on your class from a fellow teacher or get to a retreat or weekend seminar with someone that knows more than you in the discipline you teach. Maybe schedule a one-on-one teacher session. Mix it up and get inspired. Your students will know if you are starting to get bored or are on auto pilot. There is always an opportunity out there to reach for something more and gain further knowledge, you simply need to actually do the job of reaching for it.
Be open to change – your thoughts, your opinions, your preferences. It could be the best adventure you ever take.
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