Yesterday the Teacher Training group spent the last 40 minutes leading each other through Sun Salutations. It is the third time we have broken into small groups to practice teach. For some this is new territory, for others a familiar place, although a bit out of their comfort zone, as they apply new insights and teaching techniques to their current methods. I posted a photo album entitled “Seeing Each Other” on my facebook page of the transformational hour. Already there is a positive evolution of the state of affairs of yoga teachers in Lower Alabama. Please join me in an uplifting Hallelujah!
Back to the TT…as I observed everyone in the room practice teaching and as I listened to their words, I was touched most deeply by the obvious care everyone shares for their fellow student-friends. Our studies in the training continue to imprint the importance of ‘SEEING who is in front of you’ in a yoga class—I mean, like in the AVATAR kind of SEEING. And this is what I mean by a “student-oriented… “ yoga class in the Teacher Training Mission Statement:
Yoga Birds Teacher Training mission is to offer a course for serious students and aspiring professional teachers of yoga to deepen their knowledge in the areas of yoga history, philosophy, asana and pranayama technique, meditation, ethics, teaching methodology, and the business of yoga. Yoga Birds teaching style is a synthesis of the teachings of BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, TKV Desikachar, Judith Lasater, John Friend, Donna Farhi, and Leslie Kaminoff. Graduates of the program will gain new insights of Self through heightened studentship, find their unique voices as teachers, and have sufficient training and practice to impart a safe, student-oriented, appropriate, practical, skillful yet artfully sequenced, beneficial, and inspiring Western-style asana- yoga class. Ultimately in service to the improvement of health and well-being of the citizens of Lower Alabama.
For the skilled yoga teacher, this kind of observation of a person / yoga student means looking through eyes of compassion and ultimately reading the energy moment by moment from beginning to end of what is first and foremost SAFE, then appropriate, practical, skillfully/artfully sequenced and inspiring. And making that observation of EVERY class participant.
This is no small task! This kind of skillful observation of the the yoga student requires, an uninterrupted, full application of embodying your intention as a teacher, razor focused attention to details of the bodies and attitudinal qualities of your students, and a sustained connection to your mindful flow of skillful breath and language ( that would be intention, attention, and mindful breath which are by no coincidence, the hallmarks of a skillful asana yoga practice). Hence the importance of teachers to maintain a substantial yoga practice. That is the topic for a different post.
Back to the TT…what is becoming very clear to everyone in the training is that skillfully practicing asana and skillfully teaching asana are two completely different arenas. My method of teaching yoga teachers seeks to break the teacher’s habit of (or warding of the tendency to start) needing to do the asana practice alongside the students so as to know ‘what to say (or do) next”. If a teacher is doing the practice alongside the students he is not able to SEE his students. I think what I see happening in the group is that they are discovering how much easier the ‘right’ words come if they just address what they are SEEING instead of relying on a script of how they ‘think’ the situation should flow. What is amazing to watch is that once the trainees begin observing and SEEING while simultaneously teaching, they tap into a wellspring of infinite cueing details. And in the same manner that our asana practices ‘train’ us for skillfully living off the mat, I believe this first Yoga Teacher Training is helping us all SEE each other, our loved ones, and all our brothers and sisters outside of the yoga studio with a new skill… freshly awakened eyes of compassion.
I am just high on life as I think about what an amazing, dedicated, enthusiastic, open, and courageous group I have the honor of teaching! JAI! YES! RIGHT ON!