YOGA TEACHERS + Healers of all professions:
Where do you begin?
What’s the first thing you teach to a new student or class?
Do you start with how to stand in mountain pose? Basic relaxation lying down? Breathing?
What happens before the literal teaching takes place?
Is there a certain environment established as people enter and take a place in the room? How do you greet clients and new students? What do you imagine they sense and feel (even subconsciously) before class begins?
I believe the first thing we teach is our own current state of being.
How we show up or hold space in the room, the maturity that comes from our own self-guided practice, the depth and presence of sound personal embodiment.
‘Knowing’ that comes from not only our intellect, but is tethered to and strengthened by our senses, our very cells, our own somatic experience.
How does your state of being inform, support or hinder your student’s experience?
Of course, this is a very dynamic, fluid inquiry.
I once had a teacher take me literally and thought that I meant she should explain how she felt and what was going on in her own body at the beginning of a session. Pause. I’m speaking of the unspoken communication between bodies, energies…and I believe that we can all palpably feel another person’s state. Especially if you’re an empath or highly sensitive person, which healers and teachers can tend to be from the beginning.
And of course, we have the ability to transcend circumstances, aches, pains, emotions passing through our consciousness. We can teach from the essence we are, from a place beyond all the impermanent ‘stuff’. I believe our personal practice (our personal level of embodiment) can assist us in this skillful ability to arrive, to connect…and it’s an ongoing practice.
Our students feel our state even if they’re unaware of it. And when we teach from the experiences we’ve had personally, from that which we understand (or investigate) intimately in our own practice, it’s so powerful. We’re no longer repeating cues we learned from another teacher, or something we read in a book, but speaking from a genuine, ‘felt sense’ of what works in real-time. The better we can image and sense our own anatomy, the more accurately we can observe and help our student’s practice.
How can we encourage a student to yield and soften if we ourselves have an armored presence or feel propped up by tension patterns, unwilling to yield either by ego or body or both?
If we have a sense of collapse between poses or in our day to day life – how can we ask ourselves to engage in a higher level, healthier way – and what would that give to our students to be able to recognize and play the full spectrum?
Although our day to day state fluctuates, our true embodied self gives grounding to those fleeting thoughts, emotions, and circumstances. We can be far less attached to or influenced by these outer conditions, resting in our deep trust of self and connection to divine wisdom.
Physical practice strengthens us as teachers on all levels of our koshas – physical, mental, emotional, energetic, spiritual.
To me, practicing is about inquiring – investigating – being both accepting and fully curious about what’s possible.
Personal embodiment creates one of the best foundations for our teaching practice.
Do you agree?
How are you connecting to or expanding your personal embodiment lately? Me – lots of sleep, meditation, and exploring new asana teachers…amidst writing curriculum proposals for developmental movement and somatic inquiry…whew! And early in 2016 I’ll be training for my next trail running race.
May your personal practice gift you with resilience, responsiveness and real depth,