Daily Archives: September 15, 2009

On teaching yoga

posted by danbean

Like so many before me I decided to take a yoga teacher training, to sustain and lengthen the obsession. Some take trainings to deepen their practice and understanding. I think it’s safe to say that fewer teach.

But as someone with somewhat of a flair for public speaking, or at least plenty of experience, it seemed like a logical next step. As a freelancer, after all, diversity is helpful. Unless your freelance work is incredibly consistent and pays a bundle, a diverse pool of work sources becomes near necessity.

On the outside I thought perhaps the therapeutic work that some of my teachers do with yoga might be a long-term destination for me. Of course like many disciplines the only path to such advanced teaching is through it; one has to teach and study for years and experience firsthand what does and does not work.

The training itself is a lengthy discussion for another time; the demanding work both written and physical, the long hours, the comraderie and of course the not-so-minor injury… I could go on endlessly.

But once you are done it’s like… um…

It’s the other side of the looking glass in that room, man, when you are teaching.

Doesn’t always seem like a big deal but all of a sudden you have a bunch of mysterious bodies in front of you that are just brimming with samskara. Who the hell are these people coming to the studio and what the hell can I do for them?

Like other disciplines the beginners are often the most receptive. Tell them to lift an arm and it goes up! Like other disciplines the students who perceive themselves as experienced can be worse to teach because they already know how to practice and just use your class as a framework to get their prana on.  Yes I’m being sarcastic because for all their perceived know-how most students know a lot less then they often believe they do.   Regardless of how many times one has taken parsvakonasana there are still endless variables.  A truly seasoned practitioner would know this and of course respect the teacher.

And so it was that the newbies suffered through baddha konasana but the slim dancer in the back had to prove she could take the forward bend though the instruction was to sit up straight.   If you are someone who has received a tongue lashing for collapsed arches or one miscounted breath in the Primary Series then like me you are conditioned to the holiness of details, the essence of the yoga practice for me.  So as a teacher one might be limited to how much you can direct those dropping in to class, it makes me curious about the dynamic I want to create.   Being a hardass is perhaps the most unnatural thing for me.  And yet I see how it could be helpful.

In beginning to teach yoga, it’s hard to know exactly what I know and what I don’t know.  Time will tell.  Seems like the only way to grow is to get banged up a little, so here goes…