Inspiration

Advice for young yoga teachers – from a teacher’s teacher

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.

This - is just the beginning.

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.”

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16 replies »

  1. nice, i like how she describes her awareness moving from the inside out, from her own experience, through her experience of the depth inside her students, out into the external form of the pose…

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  2. Thanks for sharing this. I’m soon to complete my yoga teacher training so it’s very timely for me to read this! I shall share it with my fellow students :)

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  3. Thanks so much for this Andrea! I do believe though that this isn’t only for new teachers. Even seasoned ones need to be reminded because they in fact have gotten in backwards, and some still haven’t quite gotten it… Much blessings and namaste :-)

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  4. So many great insights on this one. I especially liked how she, “got it backwards,” in her beginning approaches to teaching yoga.

    Here’s an interesting question, though. I find that when I talk to friends/family taking yoga, they are drawn to a particular teacher because of their brand or personality. While they may be interested in the form/style of yoga, I’ll find that some teachers get a group of devotees because they are enamored of the teacher as a person, not just how they’re doing things.

    So is this bad? Is developing your own ego or self as a teacher and a brand a bad thing? Should we be leaving that behind every time we step in a classroom, or is it a great way to be our own, unique self?

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    • As a yoga teacher I’ve come to believe that students and teachers find each other. I don’t have the best technical knowledge of asana among the teachers at our studio. But I have my students. And it may seem that we are relating to each other through our personalities – and we are – but it also has to do with my values as a yogi and as a teacher. I do try to connect with students, and it’s in the usual human ways. And human connection is included in my practice. So, I think my students recognize me in all those ways, and those who relate stick around.

      JHL is exactly right, imo. We teach from our deepest values. We try to live the same way. And when we do teach from our deepest values, students recognize something true and they will respond to it. When we take the teacher’s seat and teach from as close to our true, authentic selves as we can, I think ego doesn’t get into it. That authenticity bypasses ego. We just bring the love to our teaching and to our students, and it will work.

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  5. Thank you so much Andrea! I am graduating 12 new yoga teachers today and one of them found this and passed it on! SO AWESOME! SO BEAUTIFUL! SO TRUE!
    If I may use this in further trainings I would be so humbly grateful!
    I am coming to London to teach a workshop late this May…would love to come and take one of your classes! I would like to experience what you wrote here first hand! Let me know where you teach!
    I send you LOTS OF POSITIVE VIBRATIONS from across the sea!
    OM NAMAH SHIVAYA!
    Namaste,
    Jennilee

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    • Hi Jennilee,

      Thanks for your comment and I am glad you found this inspiring – it’s an excerpt of an interview with Judith Hanson Lasater on Yoga Dork (just follow the link in the post for the full interview). Feel free to email me if you’d like to meet up in London :)

      Andrea

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  6. This is a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing. I am a new/young teacher and am currently trying to find out what/who/how I want to teach. Thanks so much for the great advice, this really helps!
    Leslie

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  7. Thanks for sharing this. As I am a new yoga instructor, I thought it very informative and insightful. I I will take to heart her comments as I teach and practice.

    OM SHANTI – NAMASTE

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