Even though I’ve spent almost 190 hours over the past month and a bit at MokSana learning about asanas, yogic philosophy and western anatomy—as well as practicing yoga almost every day—I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface on what it means to be a yogi, let alone be prepared to teach the physical practice of yoga to other people.
But like any new skill, I know it will take many MANY more hours until I feel like I come close to understanding it all and feeling comfortable as a teacher. As our teacher Misha explained to us, “just when you come close to your 10,000 hours of practice and think you know all there is to know about yoga, you’ll discover something new and think, oh my god, I’ll never be an experienced teacher!”
I guess that’s why we refer to yoga as a practice; it’s something you’ll most likely be practicing for the rest of your life!
The best I can do right now is to know the basics—which I do thanks to the immersion part of the teacher training program that ended two weeks ago—and learn the best way to begin to share it with others.
This past weekend we were gently introduced to feel what it was like to teach by guiding each other in and out of poses verbally. Even though I have experience as a personal trainer and cueing, explaining to a group how to get into a yoga pose is really challenging if you’ve never done it before. The words and phrases I wanted to use, like engage your core, keep your back neutral, squeeze your glutes, etc., don’t make sense in a group setting when teaching yoga, as not everyone will know what exactly you want them to do. Draw your belly to your spine, keep your spine long and strong, and press your hips forward are more descriptive phrases that will get your students into the correct position of a pose without you having to leave the front of the room to go adjust them.
I tried to “teach myself” out loud when practicing yoga the other morning and it was awful.
Put your hand on your mat here… now, spread your palms, err, I mean fingers… okay, now make sure you’re on your toes… I mean, toe mounds so your feet are bent a bit… wait. What?
Thankfully, we have the next two weeks to practice teaching each other at the studio. We have to prepare to teach a 5-10 minute meditation and part of a yoga sequence, which I’ve written all out and am wondering how I’m going to remember to say it all, haha!
As someone who hates public speaking, I’m feeling a bit nervous about the teaching part, but not as nervous as I thought I would be. Perhaps it’s because the other students in the program are so lovely and supportive so I’m not feeling as anxious or silly about messing up. I plan to teach my community class certification course sometime in January after practicing with friends and coworkers over the holidays.
As with anything, I know the more I practice, the easier it will become.
Any experienced yoga teachers out there have some tips for me? Go-to cues you like to use?