This is part three of my epic journey to becoming a yoga teacher. As I mentioned before, it has been like embarking a plane. As with all long flights, there is a lot of time to think, re-think and well, yes, sleep, too. But my journey was definitely dominated by reflection. One question that has particularly occupied my mind was what kind of teacher I want to become.
Teaching is such a big word. We have all grown up being surrounded by teachers. There were some we liked, others not so much. I remember having particular issues with teachers because of the following reasons: 1) They gave us too much homework, 2) they were scary, but the worst teachers were 3) just plain boring. As for the ambitious teachers giving too much homework: There was always a way to get it done. If not at home, then in the morning bus at the latest. The scary ones would usually dance naked in my imagination and already they were a lot less scary. But for the boring teachers: They simply lost me.
Boring teachers don't light the fire
Why did they loose me and usually the rest of the class, too? Why could they not get us to listen, to be attentive, and to stay with them? Because they did not seem passionate about their topics. They did neither seem to love it nor live it or know everything about it. As a kid, you do not really question why you like a teacher or not. Today, I do. Especially, since I want to become a teacher myself in order to take on the responsibility of guiding others through their yoga practice. In fact, I want much more: I want to inspire them to discover both their bodies and souls. To do so, I will have to give so much more than just simple cues of how to get into a perfect asana. I will also have to assist my students to link their physical practice to their inner world. They might be confronted with feelings and emotions, they did not even know, they were having. Besides, they might have just have come to class to get some workout not even expecting any feelings to come up.
How will I get them to embrace their feelings? How will I help them understand that being in the present with their body simultaneously implies to get in touch with many things going on in their minds and souls?
Passion is the answer
Passion is my answer. The most boring teachers I have met did not burn – neither did they burn for their students nor their topic. At least, that is how they made us students feel. There might have been sorrows on their mind, or they even had entire years of bad days. Whatever reason, they did not achieve to light the fire in their students and eventually lost them.
While I was studying to become a yoga teacher, I felt like yoga had occupied my mind. Whenever I met my friends, colleagues, or fellow yogis, I could only talk about yoga. The practice had changed the relationship to my body. With every practice, I felt my body a little more. On top, the yoga philosophy or the so-called sutras had transformed my thinking in many ways. They got me to re-think my purpose in life, my values, and many of my relationships. Besides, I noticed a huge desire to bring kindness into the world, to inspire others to live up to their true selves, and to be more understanding in our relations with others.
I want to share that gift of yoga. It has been a private passion for long, but only now I notice, how much I desire sharing.
Another lesson the yoga sutras teach is being grateful, and I am deeply grateful for all former teachers I had. The boring ones have reminded me of transmitting as much passion as possible once I start teaching. The good teachers – the ones full of passion, inspired me to live up to life's challenge such as the challenge of becoming a yoga teacher. Finally, my best teachers were capable to do both open their students’ eyes and make them belief in themselves. While all good teachers have been passionate about their various topics, the very best ones had one more gift: They truly saw their students as they were. In other words, they were present and they gave us their gift or presence. Presence is being aware, seeing another person, and embracing their happiness as well as their sorrows.
Put differently, when you are teaching, you have to be fully present in the here and now. Whatever might be going on in your life, you leave it out of the classroom. Because all that counts in that particular moment, is teaching your class with all the passion you have to give. Your students will feel that. With teachers being present, I always felt appreciated, safe, and protected. This is what I want to transmit to my students, too.
Great teachers give the gift or presence.
In other words, I do not only want to become a passionate yoga teacher, but also one who knows to give the gift of presence. I want to be the teacher who wraps her students in a white cloud of safety that gives them the security to both fly and fall. I want to help them grow in both their physical and mental practice while holding a safe space for everything that might come up.
Naturally, just noticing that a great teacher brings passion and presence to the classroom is not the end to the plane ride. Especially, since my journey of teaching yoga has only just begun. I am looking forward to learning more myself. Every single teacher on my way has provided me with a little gift of insight and wisdom which helped me to grow and mature. Since we never stop growing, I am already curious and excited to meet my future teachers and to get more in touch with my inner teacher, too.
Thanks so much for joining this ride with me! It has been fantastic so far.
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More on becoming a Yoga Teacher - Part 1
More on becoming a Yoga Teacher - Part 2