Remembering Our Strength As Teachers
New yoga teachers are often overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the opportunity to share what they love. But over time, it can sometimes feel as though there’s no relay in a teaching relationship.
For this reason, a teacher must take time for self care and reflection. And a yoga teacher especially must take time to revisit the beginner’s mind.
I teach Hatha yoga, but I recently started my Kundalini training, which gave me new perspective. The way the lessons are delivered in this tradition is pragmatic and knowing.
We discussed the role of the teacher as someone who gives without expectation or self-serving intent. In the Kundalini tradition, as taught by Yogi Bhajan, there is even a pledge that teachers are to take every time before a class. It goes as follows:
- I am not a woman.
- I am not a man.
- I am not a person.
- I am not me.
- I am a teacher.
This mantra reinforces the idea that the teacher’s role is one of servant leadership. The instructor serves both the tradition of yoga and the best intention for the students in the room. This mantra is beneficial because it helps us teachers maintain objectivity.
As yoga teachers, so many days are rewarding. Students leave class relaxed and happy. But sometimes, when a student does not listen to instruction or does not show up consistently, it can be easy to take this personally.
There is no reason to. As reflected in the mantra above, teaching is not personal. It is a gift that must be given as objectively and full of genuine care as possible, but we have to remember that people digest information at their own speeds. A few ways yoga teachers can stay grounded are as follows:
A few ways to remember this are to:
- Connect with other yoga teachers
- Stay true to your own practice
- Take time to reflect, both before and after class
- Trust the process
For me, this last bullet is key.
Information is absorbed over time, and a student’s greatest epiphany often occurs long after class. So it is up to an instructor to trust this process and trust the students are learning at the right time and speed for them.
Because it can be difficult to always give and support, we must also take time to recognize the strength of the teacher. Servant leadership is not easy. It requires consistency, clarity, confidence and connectivity. It requires self care and a willingness to step back and trust.
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