Do you need to know it all to be a good yoga teacher
Yoga Evolves us
We all start somewhere, we learn how to walk, to speak and eventually how to roll out a yoga mat.
When I think about how I was doing postures in the beginning of my yoga journey compared to now, it can feel like there are worlds between. And I wouldn’t say I was doing them wrong, because at this time, this was the best I could do with the knowledge I had.
As much as my yoga practice evolved over the years, so have my teachings. I always found it important to keep on studying, and not just take what I learned in my first yoga teacher training and make it the ultimate truth. I trust in yoga but not in only one interpretation of it.
Why study yoga
Yoga is there to be studied, as ever changing beings – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually – we might study different styles of yoga at different times of our lives. The study of yoga is there to help us to get to know ourselves better and to learn how to use the tools yoga provides to have a life free of suffering, or at least with less suffering.
Being a humbled yoga teacher
So when I learn something new these days, I don’t feel embarrassed that I have taught something different last week. Last week, this was true for me and I shared it with my students from my heart. Being humbled and transparent, I am not afraid to share the new insights with my students and revisit the old. These qualities I value in myself and in teachers I work and study with.
As for teachers, I believe it is essential that we teach what we have a concept of in our own minds and bodies, we do not need to teach every pose and every pranayama if we have no experience with it ourselves. Being authentic, instead of trying to copy our teachers. Keep on practising and exploring for yourself. This will help you to stay humbled and evolve to the best teacher you can be.
Even if we could study everything we will never know it all. We will not walk in our student’s shoes. We can do our best to guide them, but ultimately, they have to walk for themselves.
When we start our yoga teacher journey, we tend to see things black and white. “This is how you do a pose, I know it now, I have a certificate now etc”. But with meeting different students on the way, you will notice this is not true for all bodies. Also not every person learns in the same way, some are more audible, some more visual, some seem to get it right away, some might always need your guidance in sun salutations. What we can provide is a safe space in which the student can explore yoga with a loving and as knowledgeable as possible guidance we can give them.
The problem with “Feel your body”
Be aware though to advise your beginner student, to just feel their body. Many people are disconnected from their body, hence they first need to relearn to feel it. What we can do is to give them a safe box in which they can do the pose. Then later we tell them the purpose of the pose in this particular sequence, to feel and explore for themselves. Our role as teachers is that we have enough knowledge to provide these safe boxes, that we have empathy and compassion to create safe practice spaces and that we encourage students to think, feel and explore for themselves. Let us use the poses as entry points to connect with our dynamic multidimensional bodies.
How to do this yoga pose right?
So when a student comes and asks me, is this how you do a pose? Today I answer, “It depends”. It depends for example on what you want to get out of the pose and who is doing the pose. Let us as teachers be humbled, as there is almost never a “right” answer to this question and provide our students with context and empower them to make their own educated choices.
Another common question I get is, why does this teacher teach it like that? My answer, well, I can tell you why I teach my version, you can ask the other teacher to do the same, and then find what works for you.
Keep on studying yoga
We as yoga teachers need to keep on studying, so we can be confident enough knowing that we don’t have all the answers, but still can be empowering companions on our students’ yoga journeys.
In the end yoga is the study of the self, and not who can copy the yoga teacher best.