Why do we come to the yoga mat? Initially for me, it was to reduce stress; increase my lung capacity; and improve my flexibility. But then it morphed. I was looking for something more, a spirituality or openness. I wanted to cultivate acceptance inwardly and outwardly, in other words, I wanted to cultivate love. As I practiced, I realized, I wanted to continue to ‘spread that love’ by becoming a teacher. But, what kind of teacher would I be?
I found my voice early as a teacher without any instruction, but there was still ego. Yes, yoga teachers still struggle with ego. While I’ve never been one to strive for striking a pose for the cover of Yoga Journal, I’ve found myself asking the questions, ” Am I a ‘good’ teacher?” ” Do I challenge my students?” “Am I boring my students?” “Do I talk too much?” “Do I talk to little?” “How can I keep it new, but allow them to find comfort in some familiar poses?”
A while ago, when I was having one of those moments, thinking I was in a ‘new pose rut’, I talked to my mentor, and her answer was simple, “teach from the heart.” Which made complete sense, because that’s where I’m most comfortable. So, I threw away my internal score cards, and went back to compassion. Compassion for myself, and of course, for my students.
When I walk into the studio, I have no plans. I may have an idea for an area of the body to focus on, but I just come in and wait for instructions. I listen to what my students need verbally and non-verbally. Are their brows furrowed when we’re centering? Are they shifting restlessly? Are they pushing themselves too hard?
I listen, and look, and teach accordingly. It’s their class after all.
When questions arise from within, “How can I help them feel better?” “How can I help them find that balance of effort and surrender?” “And, how can I send them home feeling as amazing as I did when I became inspired to teach?”
I answer, ” Teach from the heart.”
– Your Charmed Yogi