Teaching from the heart

heart hand gesture

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

(Photo: Smillakatz)

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8 thoughts on “Teaching from the heart

  1. Hi Lisa,

    I almost always enjoy what you and the others have to say/teach/convey on this forum. However, I have a practical question for you (and anyone else) today. I have been an athlete as both child and adult (at 8yrs old – Midget football+baseball…HS football…College football…15 yrs of Competitive BB…10 yrs of Competitive Martial Arts (Aikijujitsu) and am now making a comeback of sorts in the BB arena. I am now 48 years old, 5,8″ and 235lbs – but very muscular. Unfortunately I’ve been an extremist and pushed my body and mind (PhD in Clinical Psych) too much over the years. I’ve suffered multiple heart attacks and have a complete right side hip replacement. I’m interested in yoga as a new method of contending with stress – which I am easily susceptible to. I have always been the nervous sort – on the interior. In addition, my ‘good’ hip – the one that hasn’t been replaced – is hurting badly (but I have no intention of getting this one replaced until can’t walk!). Is there a particular type of yoga that most readily helps diffuse anxiety/stress that may concurrently potentially help me milk my hip for as long as I’m able?

    • Seth, thanks for your honesty. I think a great type of yoga for you would be to try a restorative practice. Usually, the type of yoga we steer clear of is exactly the type of yoga we need. If you’ve made a career out of pushing yourself, maybe it’s time to slow down. Restorative or yin yoga may be exactly what you need. And a regular practice of pranayama and meditation can help the mind settle into stillness. Keep me posted!

      • Ty U much…I agree that I likely need what I least want/like…but is Restorative Yoga something unique to every person or is it an established routine?

      • Wait….yin yoga …. pranayama….stillness…..I read too quickly. How shocking lol. I shall look them up…and thnx!

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