It dawns on me that teaching Yoga is a much greater personal engagement than I could ever have imagined.
I find that kind of responsibility exhilarating and uplifting.
I noticed a new law appearing in my life the day I turned the page and shifted from „Yoga student“ to „Yoga student who also teaches“. This realization got me thinking about my new roles and responsibilities.
Studying and practicing Yoga are not an exclusively private enjoyment anymore.
If I’d stop giving myself to my students fully, it will slow my personal evolution or even stop it altogether.
And I’m not defining „giving myself fully“ as „sacrifice“ in the sense we use in the Western world/culture.
„Giving myself“ does not mean I should teach or study or practice in a way that consumes my energy without allowing myself to replenish it.
It also doesn’t mean I’m in a more elevated position than the ones coming to me.
Giving implies that I open my arms to what students will offer me.
Although I do not have a lot of experience in terms of times I’ve taught, I already feel that this kind of commitment to what my students communicate to me (through their presence and bodies) is what will trigger a chain reaction of growing commitment to ourselves, to the process we’re in, and to the people around (for instance in the classroom).
This kind of commitment is a key quality of any good teacher I have ever met. Only I didn’t notice until I set off to become a teacher myself.
One can sense that a good teacher is deeply committed to his students – like a parent to their child. The presence of a good teacher radiates benevolence, openness and warmth – to me, these are some of the qualities that characterize a ‚ideal parent‘.
An evolved parent knows that their own understanding and evolution are intimately linked to their child’s growth and unfolding. It must be one of the most rewarding, but also most difficult lessons to accept that you are mirrored in your child, but that you will never own it.
If they allow themselves to be surprised, most parents will be able to see the best in their children. If parents trust what they perceive as their child’s core, this can be enough to make the whole family grow wings.
If a person sincerely trusts that „you can make it„, this is one of the most wonderful gifts you could receive. It gives you a new perspective on your life – with another person’s eyes you can look at your struggles lovingly, yet with enough austerity to cut yourself from anything that has become a burden.
It’s still you who has to do the steps, but a mentor has a vision of your Self in full bloom, and this vision can encourage you to go on.
Whenever someone put his trust in my strength to overcome, this helped me feel creative and resourceful. Someone believed that the best in me would provide a solution, so the best in me did show up.
One of my main visions as a teacher is to learn how to emit exactly that quality of space, trust and security that fatherly/motherly teacher-figures have offered to me. My favorite teachers do not try to fix my concerns for me. They provide openness and the experience of finding your own answers.
Students come with different bodies, different needs, and a different perception of space, expansion and duration inside their bodies and minds, and around them.
Sometimes their experience is obviously so different from my own that I wish I could ignore it. :) It requires commitment to stay with a student who’s struggling, especially if both teacher and student aren’t really sure why (yet).
As a Yoga teacher my vision is to be a safe stepping stone for my students‘ own explorations.
- „Safe“ includes sound knowledge of anatomy, physiology, Yoga philosophy and history, energetics, etc. My knowledge of theory and practice is what students rely on – even if it still requires them to be attentive. This kind of safety can (and should) have room for ‚mistakes‘. Obviously, I’m not going to knowingly jeopardize my students‘ health. But my own teachers have done mistakes; misjudging my anatomical or mental situation, and I am grateful for it. These ‚mistakes“ deepened my trust in the warning signals inside of me. They made me see that my self is still my best teacher, and this experience I want to convey to my own students now.
- „Safety“ also means that I am emotionally reliable. Students must feel it is safe to express their likes and dislikes, and that they do not have to care about my well-being but can focus on themselves. They should feel they are not here to please me, or that I’m treating them as a way to satisfy my ego.
- This includes that I refrain from emotional black-mailing or any other tactic to bind people to me. (We all know that sometimes, parents are definitely not the first choice when it comes to sharing some delicate concerns…) For a teacher, this involves letting students go, be it for a day, a week, or forever, and still feeling committed to them. In this case, commitment means the teacher fervently and whole-heartedly desires his former student to evolve and grow, regardless of what ’school‘ or method he or she choses.
- And finally, creating a safe stepping stone also means that I permanently dedicate a part of my life, evolution, and study to my present and future students. Going on the Yoga mat has a different feel now that I am also teaching.
Imagine exploring unknown territory on your own. You could make notes and draw doodles, just for yourself. But imagine you would have to provide information for people wanting to join your excursion, or maybe even go further than you. Wouldn’t you instantly make your notes and maps more detailed – and wouldn’t you walk through that territory with more vigilance and alertness?
Teaching has made me a mother of multiples, in a sense.
There’s no birthmarks, and no sleepless nights (at least not anymore), though there’s definitely anxiety and frustration at moments.
But considering that my „kids“ can walk and eat and poo on their own, I’m willing to pay that price.