Yoga teachers are often expected to know the answers. But part of being the teacher is maintaining humility and knowing that you are also the student who doesn’t have all the answers. It is important for yoga teachers to keep learning.
As yogis we are always learning. Whether we’re tentatively stepping on to a yoga mat for the first time or practicing with five decades of varied and constant practice under our yoga belts, we are always learning.
As yogis we are always learning
I began teaching in the early 2000’s having been a student for more than a decade. During that time yoga had been growing year on year and attracting new yogis in droves. I studied and attended Anusara teacher trainings and began teaching regular vinyasa flow classes at a couple of great studios. But then, something shifted. Not the yoga or the students or the studio but me – the so called ‘teacher’.
As my life had evolved I found myself at a point where I had stopped studying and my personal practice had slowed. My teaching was relying on well used sequences and themes and student numbers became more and more unpredictable.
the practice that I loved had stalled simply because I had stopped being a student.
When I recognized this the penny dropped! My ability to continue teaching the practice that I loved had stalled simply because I had stopped being a student. Yoga is an ongoing practice which is why it is so important that yoga teachers keep learning.
I currently practice with a wonderful Iyengar teacher who, after class, will always say, “I hope you’ve learned something” and invariably I have. Whether it be more understanding of the sit bones lifting or an aspect of yoga philosophy, I can always agree that I have learnt something. And this is one of the keys to being a great yoga teacher – ongoing study. As only by having an open mind and a student’s approach to teaching can you fulfill the role of teacher.
5 Great Ways to Keep Learning
Experience learning once more.
Attend classes or join meditation groups with other teachers. Enjoy the benefits, once more, of practicing and studying in a situation where you are not responsible for leading the class. Be open minded to all of the possibilities and take from the teacher and experience what speaks to you.
Be the student
Start at the beginning and get back to basics. Can you afford to pause on teaching or reduce your schedule to complete or repeat a teacher training from your own school or from another school of yoga? Perhaps you could expand you training into another area of yoga that interests you such as restorative or prenatal. Or maybe focusing on meditation or yoga therapy could provide the inspiration you crave.
Start at the beginning and get back to basics
If time and finances are in short supply which, of course, for most of us they are, explore workshops and shorter, intensive trainings, either in a studio setting or online, to help with your learning and fire up your enthusiasm.
Be a Reader.
Take time to read, and I mean really read, those textbooks that you’ve invested in over the years. Go back to some of the yoga classics for asana and philosophy or explore the sutras or meditation in more detail. Take a couple of hours to actually read those yoga magazines piled on the coffee table. We’ve all subscribed to them over time but do we really get round to ever reading them?
If you’re not a paper person take time to listen to podcasts, watch videos and read posts on the many well respected yoga blogs and websites available.
Introduce creativity into your life. Take a look at other practices such as mindfulness, ayurveda or massage therapy. Take inspiration from other complimentary activities and see how these new experiences influence your approach to yoga and teaching. Embrace new creative experiences and feel the benefit of learning from new activities.
Take inspiration from other complimentary activities
Explore other creative pursuits in whatever form they might appeal whether it be journaling, jewelry making, baking or knitting. Getting the creative juices flowing helps to encourage new ideas and learning.
Self study (svadhyaya)
Take a moment, from time to time, to study yourself….honestly! Answer simple questions with honest answers to decide whether you are still working in harmony with your expectations and hopes of a yoga career. Does teaching still bring you the fulfillment you’d hoped for? Ask yourself the question ‘are you following the right path or is it time for change?
Wherever your study takes you the most important thing is to continue your yoga practice with a sense of wonder and a beginners mind. You’ll never know what you might discover.
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