Being “Real” as a Yoga Teacher

What an amazing yoga teacher training weekend!

On Saturday, Nick Demos led one of the most intense yoga classes I have ever taken.  The theme was SURRENDER and with his challenging Hatha Vinyasa Flow class, we had no choice but to surrender.  We started the class in the looongest Downward Dog ( later we found out that we were in the pose for a good 10 minutes.)  In classic Hatha style, we held the poses for an extended period of time and while there were times I wanted to give up, I gave myself permission to rest in child’s pose when I needed to.  Throughout the intensity of the class, we enjoyed moments of comic relief and he reminded us to listen to our bodies and not force ourselves to stick it out like we often do in life.   The class seemed like a metaphor for how we deal with the obstacles that life throws us.  Finding the strength and serenity to get through these times is what is possible in our yoga practice.

On Sunday, Amber Paul, our meditation guru instructor, provided some valuable information on teaching yoga to special populations, including the aging, obese and people struggling with addictions or post traumatic stress.  The lesson learned is that yoga can provide benefits to everyone no matter their age, size and mental state.  The key is finding a way in to your student and meeting them where they are.  We ended our training weekend by playing a fun game of yoga improv where we got to experience the various teaching scenarios and populations we may encounter as a yoga teacher.  The room was full of laughter as we watched a series of skits and practiced our teaching skills on kids, teens , muscleheads and the elderly.  

Perhaps the greatest gift we have been given in this training is to experience each and every instructor as a real person.  They have shared themselves so authentically by not only revealing their unique strengths, but also their flaws and imperfections.   Vulnerability is what makes a good yoga teacher.  In order to reach your students, you need to be able to share about your own journey and , so that your students have the freedom to discover themselves and accept their limitations.