Yoga is a life long practice that can provide us with the opportunity to heal, find inner peace and become whole. For many, yoga is a sacred practice (I am not only referring to the physical practice… I am also talking about yoga as a practice of many forms) while for others, yoga is a physical practice consisting of a series of postures that can help release stress or lose weight… As yoga teachers, we need to continue to be mindful of the core teachings of this wonderful tradition.
The study, practice and teaching of yoga is a lifelong journey, during which, we have the opportunity to learn from a myriad of teachers along the way. We may encounter some amazing and fantastic yoga teachers and some not so great ones as well.
The main thing to remember is that the practice of yoga can both heal and harm. Thus, teaching yoga carries a great deal of responsibility.
When teaching yoga, we need to keep in mind the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aspects of the individual. Presenting these teachings in a safe and healing environment brings forth true transformation. When teaching to group classes, we need to consider the class level, room temperature, and cleanness of the space – the overall feeling of the room…
Like many respectable professions, yoga teachers also have ethical standards and professional behaviors to follow. These ethical and professional standards not only refer to the student – teacher relationship but they also refer to integrity, personal behavior, language, monetary compensation, advertising, community service, and much more…
I love the saying “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” or “When the teacher is ready, the students will appear” During our lives many of us had a teacher or a series of teachers that inspired us, challenged us to grow, and guided us when we needed it the most. Some of these inspirational teachers may not have been aware of their thankless gift.
As a teacher, knowing how much of positive impact you can create is inspiring in itself. If you or anyone you know has had a negative experience with a teacher, you know how hurtful this can be …
It is so important that ALL teachers (math, physics, yoga, etc) have to remember how we can uplift or deeply hurt someone with our words, actions or lack of them.
Teachers have the power to bring forth or destroy an individual’s sense of security, their talents or personal dreams. All teachers from all walks of life need to be aware how important it is to create a safe environment where everyone is treated with integrity and respect. The student and yoga teacher relationship is not an exception.
The eight limbs of yoga serve as a guide on how to live ethically in this world. The Yamas and Niyamas offer us a series of guidelines and concepts that can and should be adapted in our daily lives. With constant practice and awareness that our asana, pranayama, and meditation practices give us, we will be able to reach Samadhi – a state of union with the Divine. We will be able to reach our fullest potential and truly embody what yoga is all about.
As a yoga teacher we need to do our very best to understand and live by these eight limbs to the best of our ability. Yoga teachers we are not simply speaking of concepts, ideals or cuing poses that are separate from ourselves and/or to be used only in class…. We are transmitting a way of living, a connection to these principles and offer guidance that is already part of the teacher at all times.
A yoga teacher can only guide their students as far as she/he has gone herself in her personal journey. While teaching yoga, we may never know the impact we have on our students. That is why it is so important to come from a place of truth, compassion, honesty and humility.
Many students see their yoga teacher as mentors, especially when the teacher is experienced and/or mature and they have established a positive and trusting student-teacher relationship…
BUT, what makes a yoga teacher a mentor? You can say that a mentor is someone that has experience and knowledge in a specific field.
This transition from teacher to mentor may happen unconsciously but it only happens when the student has absolute trust in the teacher and is seeking knowledge, growth and guidance from this more experienced source.
Whether your students see you as a teacher, their maha teacher or as a mentor and friend, the opportunity to empower, encourage and make a difference in their lives is a GIFT that we should all appreciate, respect and give thanks for.
Matthew 7:12 “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you”