Have you ever been in a yoga class where the yoga instructor encourages you to let go of your fears, to open up the heart chakra and to connect to the universe? Yes, me to. While I know that the teacher has good intentions and wants to impart some yogic wisdom, I usually just end up feeling confused and disconnected from the practise that I’m currently involved in.
The problem, I feel, isn’t that the teacher is disengenuos in what he or she is saying it’s that these types of psychospiritual instructions often have no real connection to what the class is doing in the moment and therefore can come across a touch insincere.
As a yoga teacher myself, I understand the frustration of teaching people that just want to stretch and do push ups but thats the reality of the situation for many of us teaching drop in style classes. I realised that if I wanted to bring some depth into my classes I needed a better strategy to connect the dots between asana and spirituality.
Here are my top 5 tips to connecting those dots
Pick one theme to work with for a whole month allowing time for the theme to evolve and to resonate more fully with you and your students. The worry that most teachers face is believing that students will be bored if we repeat the same sequence or idea more than once. This belief is based on our own insecurities and not on reality, it’s well known that many people enjoy and benefit from repetition.
It’s important that the philosophical or metaphysical instruction has a tangible out let. For example, if the theme is, say, Letting Go, make sure the class experiences this in a physical way by encouraging the class to close their eyes in tree pose letting go of any expectations of what balance should look and feel like.
- Personal experience
On most teacher trainings we are taught to only teach what we ourselves practise, same goes for teaching yogic concepts and philosophies. If I don’t practise chakra cleansing as a daily ritual then how can I effectively include this in my teaching?
- Be sensitive
When including the spiritual aspects of yoga in our classes we ought to be aware that we may trigger emotive responses in our students good and bad. For example, I might decide to read a poem at the end of class that I find moving and inspiring to then find out that it had very negative connotations to someone else.
- Don’t over egg it
Let the yoga do the work, I mean its survived thousands of years without my input! In my opinion, the yoga room is not a place for teachers to push their agenda or to work out their stuff in public. The teacher suggests the focal point, sure, but the yoga does the rest! Let people take what they need and then discard the rest.