I have been a yoga teacher for just over a year now after having qualified in November 2016 and my thoughts on the yoga industry and on teaching have been galvanised in this time. I want to speak honestly in this blog and express what comes from the heart. It most likely won't sit well with everyone who reads this but I hope it will strike a chord with many people.
When I think of teaching yoga I get a mixed bag of reactions: firstly my overwhelming love of yoga practice and helping others to take on regular practice, my dislike of the 'yoga tribe' style of promoting and sharing yoga on social media, the importance of good energy exchange between teacher and student and the invasive nature of 'throwaway' yoga of the sort such as 'Beer yoga'.
I'm going to go through each of these thoughts in turn and any comments are welcome from both teachers and yoga students! Do you share similar thoughts?
First off I really enjoy teaching yoga to students who are at class with a genuine desire to learn asanas from the ground up with a reverence for the history and study of yoga. I appreciate students who see how yoga is benefiting their whole body and those who stretch their imagination with an open mind to what can be achieved in class. I love seeing someone persevere with an asana that challenges them and then completing the asana finally; with ease.
I tend to dislike self-made gurus of yoga and those that want to build their 'yoga tribe'. Yes you might be sharing an experience with others but at the end of the day yoga is an individual process where you go within and seek the profound. You don't need to be part of a 'tribe' with a certain set of rules and certain set of friends to do yoga! When I advertise classes I want my students to envisage themselves at yoga and not simply see photos or videos of me practicing yoga as everyones yoga is different and we therefore move accordingly. For students to try and emulate advanced asanas because they have seen a photo of my practice has the potential to inspire but more likely will likely cause disappointment or injury. The 'tribe' culture encourages ego and the 'I' sense to grow and develop - exactly what we try to break down in yoga as we aim to rejoin the universe and meet source.
I have noticed as I have been teaching the importance of energy exchange between teacher and student and how crucial this is. You can run a class with students that can perform the asanas well but their vibe is all wrong. Even when you try to connect deeper to these students they are lost often in the quest to look good in class or in the physicality of the asana. As a new teacher this can be off putting but I have come to realise that as long as I am putting in 100% and using my energy correctly in class that I am just meeting people in a different place to me on the mat and now I have realised that classes are easier to teach!
Finally as a teacher I am keen to pass on authentic yoga and a love for the real essence of yogic teachings and encourage a move away from 'throwaway' yoga like Beer Yoga, Goat Yoga etc. These might be fun but they are essentially classes designed for a bit of a laugh rather than the profound learning found deep within and along the yogic path. Yoga should always be evolving but not along a route that drags the practice into farce and folly.
Let me know your thoughts! Have you struggled whilst in your first year of teaching or learning yoga? Do you subscribe to the yoga 'tribe' ? Do you enjoy trying 'fashionable' new yoga styles or do you prefer adhering to the traditional teachings? Would be great to hear from you!