Maybe you were taught this in your yoga teacher training if you’ve taken one. Maybe not. I know I wasn’t, at least not to the extent that I know now, taught about these three important elements.
In our teacher training we were told again and again to elevate the students, elevate, elevate, elevate! That’s what you are here for! To facilitate a place for students to shift their consciousness and change their paradigms.
This is a great way to look at teaching for sure.
And I thought nothing of it until I taught this class where I was able to hold space for the first person who cried in my class. I wondered to myself, what made this class different than the other classes I have taught? What shifted in this class so that I could facilitate a space that powerful?
Sure, some of it comes with practice. You get better at describing the postures, better at projecting your voice, better music choices, better at holding space.
But there is a spirit to your yoga classes too.
This spirit is the hard to identify space where vulnerability can creep through the postures, where the students can go deep inside of themselves to have realizations, and where you no longer are the teacher.
Those are the classes I leave and go, “That was awesome!” and I make a point of going back to those classes because they are more than yoga.
Serve Your Students First
Reflecting, I realized that class I had taught had revolved around giving to another thing and serving something deeper than myself. Because of this, I didn’t care how much money I made, or how many students came, or if I was presenting Kundalini Yoga in the “right” way. I didn’t try I just did the class.
The next class I was given to teach I tried something different. Instead of designing my class to elevate I designed my class to serve. I planned my class the same way but the intention behind it changed everything.
As I taught there was no room for anything but that moment. And the next moment. And the moment after that.
And I got it: I am a servant as a teacher.
To be a teacher is synonymous with serving other people. It is through my service I elevate my students. That is the deepest gift I can give my students. Simply shifting your intention to service will shift the feeling of your class and how you teach.
Practice Yoga Every Single Day
The next thing that was spoken of but not pounded into our heads is something I am realizing more and more about being a good yoga teacher. Practice your yoga everyday. And go to other people’s classes. Audit their classes if you can.
The more you practice yoga the easier it is to teach it. You will know the kriya you are teaching, the nuances of each position, and the ways the body wants to tense up. You will know how it makes you feel when you relax, and you will know just at the right time to say something like “Refocus on your third eye.”.
The more confidence you are able to bring your class the better you are able to facilitate the class and lead your students into the depths of themselves. The better you are able to be spontaneously in the moment giving directions and guidance intuitively.
Your Presence Creates the Class
My presence is a key part of the spirit that runs the class. As a teacher my presence creates the space and shifts it from an every day experience to an extraordinary experience where each student can meet themselves fully.
When I am holding space for students silence is totally different for them than what I experience. Each one of us has an internal monologue going on and unless there is a student auditing your class (which is highly improbable unless your teaching teachers) they are not paying attention to how many times you say “Inhale, exhale” or “Keep focused on your third eye” and so on.
They are paying attention to their own inner monologue, and my job as a teacher is to help them break free from that monologue hence the thousand reminders to come back into this moment, this body and this space.
I must be present to gauge how present my students are. If they are not present I must bring them back to this moment. I must draw their consciousness back to here and guide them in shifting their mental patterns for just that one hour we see each other each week, if that.
The more I focus on these things the more powerful my classes become and the more I feel myself stepping into the role of the teacher. It takes time and practice to become used to holding such a sacred space.