The sixtieth and final Yoga Association of Alberta workshop is complete. I am amazed I made it to all of them in the two year period without any real hitches. Thank goodness I did. If I didn’t, I would have to wait an additional two years to complete the workshop.
This last session dove into principles of teaching and the role of the yoga teacher. We also touched on the types, lineages and styles of yoga, which helped clarify some outstanding questions I had about how everything fits together. We wrapped up the session talking briefly about pranayama.
It has been a full circle for me. My first workshop in January 2017 was taught by Karen and it was very fitting that Karen taught the last one this weekend. I can’t believe how much I have learned over the two years. I am so very grateful for each and every one of the senior yoga teachers who shared their knowledge and expertise with me. Truly blessed!
Now – I’m going to be a teacher?!
Here are some tidbits of shared advice about how to be a good teacher, even before the class starts:
Check in with yourself before you check in with your students
Write a lesson plan…especially useful with your mind goes blank (and it will!)
Come to the class with authenticity, love, kindness, quiet confidence, humility and being present
Inspire trust and safety
As yoga teachers we are passing on the information from our teachers
Practice together, honour the energy of the room and build a community
We also reviewed ways to teach during class:
Bring people into their bodies by providing an opportunity for body awareness
Come to the mat with a beginner’s mindset (students AND teacher)
Show asana first, then have the class try it
Give the option to try a class as “this class might not be the right class for you”
Enter centering with a statement like “simply reflect on where you’d been and where you are”, “focus on one thing, not everything”
Your class will present with different learners and how do you teach all different types (see, feel, hear)
Always have your eyes open to pay attention to your students
Be the mirror to your students
Provide a space for Sukha and Sthira (comfortable and stable)
“Are you doing your asana in your body or in your imaginative body?”
Provide suggestions and giving permission to do what you can today
Ensure time for equalizing and integration
Prepare your practice space for self-acceptance, no judgement and no expectations
We dove into a handful of other ‘hot topics’ or more challenging scenarios that occur in the class such as:
Story telling after class (end your class in silence as to not be bombarded with students sharing or over-sharing after class)
Relationships (clearing not engaging in romantic relationships with students but being cognizant of your boundaries)
Chatting students in class (ask students to close their eyes; eyes closed = mouth closed)
Adjustments and touching (asking for permission)
Partner work (what is the intention? May need to avoid due to students comfort level)
These points are only a snapshot of things to consider. The discussion was very helpful to think about being a yoga teacher, out in public and what I might encounter.
Now for the breakdown of the types of yoga, lineages and styles!
As a linear thinker, I almost need an infographic to take me through this all. For ease of writing, bullets seem to be the easy way to represent each.
Jnana – knowledge, wisdom
Bhakti – devotion (mantra, chanting, prayer ritual named Puja)
Karma – selfless service, action in service
Raja – royal, meditation (this is the type of yoga that branches into Hatha yoga)
Lineages (only a brief snapshot):
Styles (not a complete list):
Although I don’t completely have it all figured out, I think there is a better understanding in my mind and obvious difference between types, lineages and styles.
The final piece of the workshop was the breath work. We discussed it in general and how to bring pranayama into a class setting. The essential message I took was that breathing is very challenging for people. As yoga teachers we must encourage but not force a breath practice. If our students are experiencing anxiety or tension, simply suggest they go back to their normal breath. I know for myself, pranayama has been a long journey. It wasn’t something I took from yoga until I started to practice regularly and with a teacher I was comfortable with.
Although this is the end to my sixteen formal workshop, the journey continues. There is so much more to learn.
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Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.