Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Tips for Teachers

The purpose of this blog is to be an insightful and honest resource for yoga students and teachers, alike. To that end, here are a few quick tips to consider for aspiring and established teachers. To my teaching colleagues, please feel free to add your own input.

Lose the British accent unless you're actually British. Yoga may have originated in the exotic country of India, but it's unnecessary and inauthentic to conjure up your own accent in an effort to seem more exotic yourself- and, to be candid, it sounds bloody ridiculous. Occasionally, newer teachers acquire a slightly Shakespearean lilt as opposed to an accent attributable to any particular nation of origin, and either way, it's asinine. Instead, speak like yourself. If your best friend from college overheard you teaching, he/she shouldn't catch a case of the giggles at a drastic change in your persona.

Shhhh. The best thing you can do for your students is give them space. Allow them to turn inward. You inhibit rather than enhance their ability to reflect and rejuvenate if you prattle on incessantly.

Be a sponge around your mentors, not a parrot. Soak up the philosophies, sequencing, and styles of teachers who inspire you, but don't regurgitate their vibe; it won't be nearly as compelling as when you speak with your own voice and cultivate your own style.

The legendary basketball coach John Wooden was fond of saying, "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail," so was my friend and college study group pal, Doc, before exams. The same holds true for teaching yoga. Turn off your cell a half hour before class. Figure out a "warm up routine" that mentally prepares you to teach, and use it more often than not. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but topnotch teaching requires presence and commitment, particularly within the first five minutes of class. If it takes you 15 minutes to find your rhythm, you're sabotaging your own efficacy and will expend more energy than necessary trying to compensate for the attention span loss within your students.

Learn to "edit." Gifted teachers are adept at watching the clock and being able to meet the needs of their students in an allotted amount of time. Private clients, in particular, may request an abbreviated practice that they can do at home. You should know what's essential versus extraneous, for a given individual, and be able to address their objectives accordingly. The best way to cultivate this ability is to practice at home, by yourself, regularly. You'll soon be able to hone in on the asanas that give your students more "bang for their buck," in terms of potency.

Have fun. Be grateful that your students opt to spend their time and money with you. Repay them by fostering a lighthearted environment that gives students reason to smile.


Anonymous said...

I love this post. So true! What is with the affected voice? Also, as a student, it is very distracting when the teacher is more concerned about her own practice than that of her students. The studio should be a place where the ego is left behind - the best teachers never try to impress.

Anonymous said...

As both a teacher in training and a student, I found this post both humorous and helpful!