Master Teacher Roundtable: Seane Corn

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

Even the most celebrated yoga teachers admit to feeling overwhelmed and inadequate when they first started out.  Thank goodness it’s not just me.

Seane Corn is the latest seasoned yogi to reveal this.  After spending an invigorating two days in her yoga chakra workshop (which I’ll write about separately), my fellow teacher trainees and I got to sit down with the renowned yoga instructor and listen to her story.

Seane has been practicing yoga since the late 1980s, having discovered the practice while living in New York City.  She credits yoga with helping her kick her drug, alcohol and smoking habits.  Yoga made her feel so consistently happy that she realized these vices weren’t desirable anymore.  After moving to Los Angeles and getting involved in its growing yoga scene, a few teachers encouraged her to sign up for a teacher training program — both felt she was destined to teach.

Here is where it gets interesting.  Seane went through her entire 200-hour teacher training program without teaching once.  Not once!  Somehow, she was able to go through the program without getting called on.  How this energetic being faded into the background is beyond me.  But, as Seane says, she was happy about this because she was terrified to teach.

She compared her initial struggles with teacher training to learning algebra: If you don’t understand the first few equations, you’re going to have a tough time keeping up.  Forget about building upon them to learn more complex equations.  And definitely forget about moving onto geometry and advanced algebra.  While the rest of her teacher trainee peers were onto “geometry,” Seane says she was still trying to figure out the “basic algebra” of teaching yoga.

When it came time for her final exam, and teaching a pose on the spot to her classmates, she froze.  Seane used this moment as catalyst — and went on to take four additional 200-hour teacher training programs before she felt comfortable teaching yoga.  She holds no formal yoga certification (since that wasn’t around when she trained), but she is able to certify new yoga teachers.  I love this irony.  And today, Seane Corn is one of the most famous yoga teachers in the world.

However, she dislikes the word “teacher” — thinks that it’s arrogant.  She says her job is to remind and facilitate an opening for people, to help them reveal to themselves what they already know to be true.  (Personally, I like the term “guide.”)

Here are a few other key points I gleaned from Seane Corn’s Master Teacher Roundtable:

  • Say “yes” to new opportunities, even if you’re scared.  (Sean didn’t want to teach her first class or do her first media interview, but forced herself to say “yes” because she knew if she didn’t seize the opportunity then, she might never seize it.)
  • There is no such thing as a “bad” yoga class.  You’ll find a new piece of information within each class — either an interesting take-away from the teacher, or an intriguing revelation about yourself.
  • When teaching, be yourself.  Find your own voice.  Try not to mimic your favorite teachers.  Although, this is likely inevitable when you first start out.  (Seane admits that it was for her.)
  • A “danger” to avoid: Transforming into an insecure teacher trying to give students what they want — so that they’ll either like you or continue coming to your class.
  • Take the yoga teacher vocation seriously.  As seriously as you would any other job.  (Seane was able to build a following, in part, because her students could always count on her to show up for each class.)
  • Be careful fraternizing with or dating yoga students.  You don’t want to exploit or potentially traumatize a student’s healing process — yoga being that healing process.
  • Take risks and bring change into the yoga room.  I loved how Seane considered herself an “artist.”  (Yoga room = blank canvas.  Yoga instruction + sequencing = the colors.)

Thanks, Seane!

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