I’ve been teaching yoga now since 2009.  Having opened my own studio on a small budget, myself and my other partners in MOSAIC, found ourselves teaching quite a bit of yoga.  Today I have roughly 1,500 hours of in class instruction under my belt.  Recently one of our teachers asked me, “what were the breakthroughs, epiphanies, etc. you had during your teaching career (or yoga practice) that stand out?”

After some reflection I responded with 10 points.  I think I’ll come back to this question again in another 1,500 hours and see how much life has taught me I don’t know ; )

  1. If you lead with the heart while keeping your core engaged and hinge from your hips without collapsing into any of your joints you have a much stronger safer practice.  It stood out to me so much I wrote about it (Strength, Heart & Balance)
  2. You can make almost any pose easier or harder by sliding the scale of three factors:  If you increase strength and flexibility, while decreasing points of contact with the ground, the pose is harder.  If you decrease strength and flexibility, while increasing points of contact with the ground, the pose is easier.  Sliding these three factors up and down you can modify almost any posture with just a few simple movements or cues.
  3. You can’t adjust everyone who needs it in every class, but if you can offer a few really great adjustments to a few people, you can make a big difference for someone and their practice.
  4. There are times to be more serious and times to be more light hearted.  Understanding the energy in the room and having the wisdom to know which time is which is a practice worth mastering.
  5. Yogasana is a dialogue not a monologue.  The mind tells the body what to do but we have to listen to the bodies response and adjust both accordingly. Having your own practice engages you in this conversation.  This will make you a better teacher.
  6. Yogasana is one big analogy for life.  The way we approach a pose is the way we approach people and situations in our life.  The way we work with, adjust and be with a pose, is the way we work with adjust and be with situations/people in our life.  Sometimes a pose is difficult and uncomfortable, sometimes it’s pure joy and ease, such is the same in life.  Instead of just teaching the postures I want people to learn about themselves.  To use the poses as a deep insight into themselves, the way they think, move and breath, all communicate this information.
  7. Teach to people’s souls the best you can.  People’s minds and ego’s change too much from day-to-day.  Instead speak to the universal truths that underly personality and you will find unity that we can all grow from.
  8. Share your struggles.  People like to know that their “teacher” goes through the same human things that they do.  Of course the fact of the matter is we all struggle at times and sharing these struggles is an act of humility.  It connects you in a more meaningful way to those who attend your class.
  9. The learning is never ending.  Keep yourself inspired through writing, reading and training.
  10. Isvarapranidhānā – Yoga Sutra 1.23