What is the most significant piece of advice that you would give to new yoga teachers today?
(Inspiring excerpt of this interview with Judith Hanson Lasater)
“Well, there are three things. Number one is to practice yoga every day. Number two is to always stay curious, open. Continue to learn. Never think you know what yoga is. Keep learning. Keep opening. Keep reading.
The third thing is be clear on your values and your intentions. In my own teaching, I always abide by three values and intentions. When I walk into the classroom, the very first thing that I want to do is connect with myself. What’s going on? What’s arising? [...] Because if I’m not connected to me, there is absolutely no way I can connect to the students.
The second value is to see with my heart the person who is in front of me. Not the person who they are pretending to be, but who they really are, and what they are really asking me with their question. What are they really expressing with their body in the pose? Who are they, really? [...]
The third thing on the list, and this is in the order of importance, is the task at hand, teaching them the pose. When I first started teaching, I used to think the most important thing was teaching them the pose, then paying attention to them, then thinking about myself. I had it completely reversed.
I don’t believe that anymore, and the results have been profoundly satisfying. What I hear now, if I may be so bold, is that people don’t say to me “that was the best shoulder stand I ever did,” or, “I really liked that forward bend, it felt so much better.” Rather, mostly what people say to me—and I’m very humbly receiving this—is, “You changed my life. You helped me understand myself. I feel so much more hopeful now.” And I think that comes from being really clear on my intentions and my values in teaching.
My best advice for young teachers is to think deeply about what your values are in teaching and practicing of yoga. Study and teach from your deepest self. Stand on the mat in your own light and teach from your inner radiance and your inherent goodness.”