As a new yoga teacher, it’s easy to get exhausted. You’re focused on what to do, what to say, how to say it, you’re nervous, you often feel awkward and self-conscious. This all fades a bit as you gain more experience and it’s important that over time, you learn to create a balance when it comes to the energy exchange that’s part of teaching yoga.
When we teach, we’re not just standing there, telling students what to do. We’re giving instructions, watching their reactions, re-working what we say and how we say it so it can have the desired result. We’re assisting, placing our hands on students to help guide them into the pose. We sometimes have to deal with the resistance that arises, be it outright or assumed. We’re sharing from the heart, even in little ways, to help inspire students to be their best.
My initial years teaching involved a lot of talking to the mind of the student. I’ve shifted quite significantly to teaching with an anatomical focus but this doesn’t mean I don’t speak to the heart. In fact, I truly believe that once we work with the very concrete focus on anatomy, we’ve cultivated the perfect environment to now plant some seeds of inspiration. It’s kind of hard to get inspired when you’ve just rushed into class, straight out of work.
So what gifts CAN we give our students? I believe in those moments of calm, towards the end of the class, the best gift we can give is the gentle push to acknowledge how one feels, to listen closely to the messages the body is sending, to begin to move from the head to the heart. As we leverage the undeniable effect of deep breathing on the nervous system to relax and soften frayed nerves, we create the perfect environment for students to plant the seeds of intention and inspiration. The best gift we can give them is to encourage them to do this.
Our days are filled with work, chores, family, technology and media. It is only in those rare moments of stillness that we as teachers can encourage our students to tap into their own sources of inspiration; their deepest beliefs in their worth, their strength, their self-esteem. When we move as teachers to inspire our students we realize that we are inspired too. This is where the “giving out” becomes more of a “receiving” and the energetic balance of teaching is found.
I encourage you to speak from your heart. Use words that are true to you. You will find in those moments, tapping into your own heart is a great source of inspiration. We are not all that different. Share what you love and inspire your students.