Teaching yoga is a complicated task. Like practicing, it requires an understanding of what we're trying to do, how best to do it, how to navigate any barriers before us, and constant reassessment as to whether or not we're on the right path.
Teaching requires not only that we understand what to teach and how to teach it, but also that we help navigate the experience for the student, providing encouragement and a sense of discipline while drawing from our own experience and knowledge. This makes teaching a constant, on the spot, juggling act.
While we need not be teachers in order to practice, we need to be practitioners in order to teach. When we take students on the path of yoga, we must have already been to the places that they will soon visit for themselves. When they have doubts or questions, we must know how to respond. When they make progress we should be there to guide them further. Anything and everything that comes up for the student is ours to respond to. We show them how to begin, and then stay with them and guide them as they progress.
It's important that we treat teaching and practicing as two separate entities. They require very different skills and as we develop in both areas, they in some ways become more separate.
To develop our teaching, we can learn more about the physical practices making us better able to decide what and how our students should practice. By learning to adjust what words we say and how we say them, we can use our own energy to take the students to new places. By carrying ourselves in a certain way or offering adjustments, we can teach the student to experience a posture in a new way. We can learn how to read the signals our students give us, so we know when tough love is necessary or when a gentle approach is more appropriate.
As practitioners, we are used to learning and practicing. We know that's how we progress. Teaching is no different. We should seek out learning experiences, understand what makes a good teacher, and work to be the best we can be.
Scott & Ida are Yoga Acharyas (Masters of Yoga). They are the head teachers of Ghosh Yoga. This blog is about their experience with yoga practice, study and teaching.
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