We’re up to Chapter 17 in my daily blog tour of my soon to be released book, “Stretched: Build Your Yoga Business, Grow Your Teaching Techniques.” This chapter is called “How to Let Your True Nature Come Through in Your Teaching.” This is one of my favorite chapters and one of my most favorite topics to share when working with teachers, especially new teachers. This concept is really at the heart of what it means to be a great teacher; it’s someone who let’s their true nature shine through the lens of teaching yoga.
In this chapter, I suggest different ways that you can let yourself shine through in your teaching. It would seem obvious, wouldn’t it? But often, we’re self-conscious, we’re nervous, something that’s happened in the class or someone’s presence has thrown us off and we’re not in our body, we’re in our head. When this happens, we lack that naturalness that allows our true nature to shine through. One of the best ways to observe this true nature is to watch children. Young children haven’t learned how to hide their true nature. They are always sharing, expressing and acting in an authentic way. As we grow up and experience different things through interacting with others, we start to change how we act as a result of others’ reactions. Often, this can be a change that comes out of an assumption we’ve made about what others think and has nothing to do with the truth of what they think. But if you’ve ever read “The Four Agreements,” you know that making assumptions and taking things personally is one of the worst things we can do. This applies to teaching yoga as well.
Letting yourself come through in your teaching can be done by bringing different themes into class. If you’re a bit stuck on themes that would allow you to do this, I give you some questions to trigger thought on this topic. Things like, “What do you love about yoga practice?” or “How do you manage frustration on the mat?” These questions are to get you thinking about these topics because honestly, they’re universal questions that have touched every yoga practitioner at one time or another. Through thought around these themes, we can tap into core feelings that hit upon our authentic nature. It’s the hiding behind other’s words or style, or pretending to be something we’re not, that always will result in our coming across as phony when we teach.
As much as we might want to mimic another teacher, either in words, style or both, it’s an impossible road to maintain for the long term. It takes tremendous effort and robs us of the satisfaction we can feel when we’re doing something we love in a way that is authentic to us. We also rob everyone in our class of an opportunity to really SEE us; while this might seem ego-centered, it’s really meant as a way to honor not only who WE are, but everyone’s authentic nature as well. Many of my favorite memories of wonderful yoga classes have come when I’ve been taught by someone who takes a risk, shows themselves in some way, and in that moment, I’m inspired to do the same.
Next Up: Facing Your Fears as a Yoga Teacher