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I recently saw an interesting discussion on a colleague's Facebook page about what makes a great class outside of training. Presence, empathy, humility, motivation, finding your own voice – all of these were great answers in the comments. But an important question also emerged: How do you cultivate these qualities as a teacher?
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I've been thinking about this for a while. As a yoga teacher who oversees a large online group of teachers, I regularly receive inquiries from new teachers with the same strange situation. They have hundreds (and hundreds!) Of hours of training but little confidence in their skills as a teacher. They are full of information but cannot effectively pass it on, impart knowledge in a way that makes them feel good, and truly serve their students.
Actually, that's not very surprising. As a former studio owner, I know that training is one of the greatest sources of income for yoga studios and experienced yoga teachers. Let's face it, no one makes a living from unlimited $ 30 courses for a month. We have created a training flood culture where inspired students and new teachers feel like they need to jump into training after training because they are simply the only places that provide the input and community we are looking for.
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However, there comes a time when more hours are added and more certifications are not required. What is needed is the unprofitable but crucial and empowering work of building one's relationship with yoga.
"We have created a culture of training flood where inspired new teachers feel like they need to jump into training after training because they are simply the only places that provide the input and community we are looking for."
Yes, of course, the skills and techniques you receive in the training are the foundation of effective teaching. We all know that. And yet, for me, the biggest difference is who you are as a teacher and who you are as a yoga practitioner.
I started teaching online in 2015 to help instructors incorporate what I had learned into training. I realized that new teachers needed a framework and structure to process their hundreds of hours of yoga training and put their skills into practice in a way that would prove effective in real life and feel authentic to them.
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That is how my program, The Skillful Yogi, began and it has grown into much more. We have become a global community of teachers committed to transforming the culture of serial training and immersed in practice and learning with the support of an experienced community. I am proud to say that we are changing the culture of yoga consumption and reclaiming the path of study and engaged learning.
It became clear to me that it depends: PRACTICE and EXPERIENCE. To be clear, I am not just referring to practicing the class or gaining experience in teaching. I practice my yoga. I mean, go deeper into your own experience.
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Simply put, we can only teach who we are. A body, a mind, a spirit that inserts itself regularly (yes, every day) into the teachings and practices of our tradition (if only for a few moments) is, dare I say, the only way to have your voice as one finding teachers to develop the presence and authenticity you crave, simply to inspire who you are and to guide others on the journey.
It is the daily infusion of yoga into our lives that gives us confidence as teachers, that gives us what no training can offer, that makes teaching a natural extension of who we are.
It is what you do on your mat when no one else is telling you what to do in order to relate to your body, your breath, your mind, that will be your greatest teacher.
As a student, we deepen our teaching. A student of our craft, of course, but perhaps more importantly, a student of ours.
Yoga is not simply a way of acquisition and consumption, although it is often portrayed as such in mainstream yoga culture. It's a way to become, to drink, and ultimately to be.