Someone told me today that they heard on the radio – there are more yoga teachers today than coal miners…. That’s significant. It’s trendy right now and it’s never been easier to become a yoga teacher… But having influence over any number of people in a room is a big responsibility that has to be respected & taken seriously.
If you’ve been teaching yoga for any length of time or maybe even just as a yogi yourself, you’d know that everyone is drawn to yoga for one reason or another. More often than not it’s because of hurt, stress, brokeness, etc. etc. People find healing in yoga. You’d also know that your students are your teacher just as much as you are theirs. It’s a beautiful, even exchange. They show you what you need to say, how you should say it, what you need to show and how you need to show it. Their energy determines your tone, your attention and ultimately your class. When someone trusts you with their time, their energy & possibly the outcome of their day/week – it’s important to take that seriously.
It’s important to be careful with how you’re suggesting that your students relate to their practice. I recently started suggesting that my students decide for themselves when they need to take something further and try a little harder versus when they need to maybe… not. I want my students to try for the thing that is harder for them to do... That’s where growth takes place. But it occurred to me that what is physically harder, is not always the thing that is harder. Maybe not pushing the body to exhaustion is the harder thing to do? I’m not sure… I have to let my students decide what is more difficult to them. On that day. In that class. Under that day’s circumstances.
It’s important to still be a yogi. I get it… the last thing you want to do after you’ve taught eight classes this week is go to a yoga class, but don’t forget why you started this journey. Yoga gave you a gift that at one point felt so valuable, that you had to share it. I think that it is very obvious when a teacher isn’t spending time on their mat – their cues are different, the passion feels forced, they’re feeling burnt out, etc. As a teacher, you are sharing your personal practice… so it’s important to still have one. Burn out is real – it’s hard to project your voice for any length of time, putting everything into a class physically and emotionally which is an even bigger reason to have your own practice. Fill your cup just as much as you’re spilling it out.
Remember that you hold a special place in people’s lives. They come to you on their busy week night with hopes that you can help them achieve whatever it is that they’re searching for; whether that’s a ‘workout’ or 75 minutes of them getting their heads above water. You have to know that your students need you to hold it together. The worst thing a yoga teacher can do is dump their own negative vibes onto their fragile students. You don’t know what someone is dealing with, and while they don’t know what you’re dealing with either – you’re the teacher. You hold the energy of the room. THAT is a privilege. You don’t need to be their therapist. You don’t need to give them advice or try to help them. You just need to meet them at their emotional, physical and/or spiritual cross roads and help them to get their minds & bodies on the same page enough to achieve their own clarity. It’s not about you.
You’re not just a yoga teacher – you’re a gift. Not just anyone can do what you’re doing and that is something to be very proud of. Respecting the practice is so important because ultimately – yoga will give you what you give it. xoxo, Namaste.