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.
Being a yoga teacher trainee is not unlike being a child observing your parents, and deciding how you would raise you kids based on what you like/didn’t like and what worked/didn’t work.
I find myself making similar observations in yoga practices and teacher training sessions. When I’m confronted with something awesome, I want to replicate the experience and share it with my students someday. So I file it away. When I’m confronted with something that is disturbing or upsetting, I file that away, too — but as an anecdote for what not to do with my future students. I’ve accumulated a similar arsenal of do’s and don’ts for my possible future role as a “mother” to my own children.
Not unlike mothers, yoga teachers also nurture, cultivate, teach, cheerlead, discipline and push. It’s a different dimension of parenting. And as any open-minded mom can attest, there isn’t always a “right” and “wrong” way to do things. You just do what you think is going to provide the best path that will yield the best experience for the child — or in the case of a yoga class, the yoga student.
A recent yoga class I attended provided a few lessons that joined my personal bag of yoga teacher do’s/don’ts.
The yoga teacher started class late without asking her students in advance about any injuries. As it turned out, there was a woman next to me who had major wrist and back issues. This teacher forged ahead with a vinyasa class that was somewhat advanced and free-flowy creative (think Shiva Rea-style), and this poor yogi next to me couldn’t participate in the majority of the class. Much of the class also found it hard to follow, in general! The teacher, to her credit (although a little late), tried to provide some modifications for the injured student — but the student wound up leaving the class early, clearly frustrated. I really hope it wasn’t her first time trying yoga!
The things I took away from this: 1) Always ask about injuries at the start of class — so I can modify sequencing accordingly, and take those students with limitations into consideration; 2) Always ask at the start of class if anyone is new to yoga. Although I know there is only so much I can control, the thought of new students leaving my class turned off to yoga forever is crushing. I want everyone to walk away with at least one positive take-away; 3) Keep sequencing simple. This yoga teacher was getting so “creative” she forgot some of the asana combinations. I could barely follow it. About 20 minutes in, I was laughing internally — and grateful for the experience, if only for the lessons it provided.