When I was going through my first yoga teacher training, I initially didn't realize how truly important the responsibility of being a teacher is. Being a (good) teacher is a powerful role to fill. A teacher can influence people by shaping their ideas and thoughts about a specific subject or positively (I hope never negatively) change their day, week, month or life. When I connect with a student on a deep level they listen with an open heart and I may possibly affect them in ways that I don’t even realize. It could be one word or one little phrase that I said that might change their day for the better. That alone makes teaching yoga worth it.
When I teach a yoga class, I probably learn more from my students than they learn from me. My students are my greatest teachers. They empower me to get up in front of a room, bear my heart and soul, sometimes look silly and at times fail. The failures teach me more about how to be a better teacher next time and how to organize the lesson more clearly, slowly or introduce it in a different way. The times I feel that I succeeded, I learn what works and what really hits home for people. I learn how to connect with different kinds of people from all backgrounds, ages, shapes, sizes, colors, beliefs, learning styles, etc. I learn how to move people physically and mentally. I learn how to make people feel things, whatever it is… anger, joy, fear, happiness, bliss, frustration, confusion, peace, whatever feeling is coming up for them is beautiful because it is so uniquely human and personal to each person. I hear this beautiful phrase all the time: “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” That really rings true to me.
Completing a 200hour yoga teacher training is not enough to be a good teacher. This initial training is just an introduction to the beginning of teaching yoga, if you choose to pursue teaching. If you are not taking a training to become a teacher, then it is an introduction to deepening your personal practice. Becoming a good yoga teacher, someone who is in-tune with students and is able to connect, influence and affect, is all about hands-on experience. It takes time (many years) to find your own voice as a teacher and to figure out what you have to share with others. Becoming a good teacher is about being a forever student and constantly studying, training, reading, asking questions, experimenting and finding a mentor who can guide you in times of confusion. Being a good teacher means that you are open and willing to change and adopt new ideas and methods throughout your teaching career in order to keep it fresh and updated. Being a good teacher is about observing and listening intently, even though we end up doing a lot of talking, it is even more important to observe with your eyes and ears.
Being a teacher runs in my family; many of my relatives have been or still are school teachers with a passion for teaching. I feel I was born with this natural ability to share and to get others excited in what I find exciting. I feel that teaching yoga is a lot like hosting a party and entertaining loved ones. I must capture my guests’ attention for them to stay at the party and then I want them to participate and contribute with tons of love and gratitude towards themselves and everyone in the room.
If you are interested in knowing more about your yoga practice, and I’m not talking just about the physical practice of yoga, I am talking about everything that yoga entails (philosophy, history, mythology, anatomy, etc.) look into different 200hour yoga teacher trainings. Don’t just sign up for the first one you look at… research it out and find a school or a teacher that you connect with. First, take classes with this teacher for about 6 months to understand what their style is and if they can offer you what you want and need in a training. Pursue a yoga teaching career because you feel a calling to do it, you have natural teaching instincts and a passion for what you would like to share with students, not just because it’s a fad. Today, in 2016 there is an over surplus of yoga teachers because many of these 200hour teacher trainings churn them out like robots and give them a script to read off of. However, in a sea of too many yoga teachers, it is easy to spot the good ones. They shine bright and have personal yoga insight on specific topics close to their yogi heart that students eagerly listen to.
To all yoga teachers and students out there… keep the exploration and the love going strong.
For harmonious relationship between student and teacher.