As an introvert I find it easier to express myself through writing. It gives me the space to stop, think, and adjust my language as I go.
Becoming a yoga teacher has helped push me out of my comfort zone and learn to speak in front of a group of people in a clear and confident manner.
Just I was beginning to really find my groove as a teacher I was, without warning, presented with an abrupt obstacle.
About six weeks ago I fell snowboarding and fractured my left clavicle. The first thing that popped into my head as I was beginning to process what had happened to my body was “YOGA!! How am I going to be able to practice or teach? What about my students?!?!”
Well, as it turns out, this injury has given me the space to refine my teaching practice. Without the ability to offer hands-on adjustments or demonstrate any poses or flows, my words have become my strength. They are all I’ve had to offer my students for the past month or so and I have learned how to select each and every one with meticulous care.
There is an art to teaching yoga. You can plan and plan for a class and then plan some more but as soon as you step into the room, that whole plan can change. You tune in to the energy of the group and adjust accordingly. You’re light on your toes, smooth and swift with your movements, all the while keeping your eyes alert to which bodies could benefit from an adjustment and hopping to the front of the room when a demo becomes the most helpful option for your students.
It’s an art, and I was suddenly limited to two things: the tone and energy in my voice along with effective cuing.
For the past month-ish I have taught my classes sitting at the front of the room and simply watching all the bodies in front of me move according to the words that flow out of my mouth. This change in perspective has helped me notice which words are pertinent and which ones are frivolous. I began sense which cues are effective and those that are unnecessary. This shift in my teaching practice has helped me understand the value of holding space for my students in terms of SILENCE.
I now realize the value of allowing students to FEEL what is happening in their bodies. Cues are not meant to take up the entire space of a class, but are more of a guide that comes and goes, making sure everyone stays supported throughout the structure of a class. The essence of yoga is to quiet the mind and learn what it means to become present.
As a teacher, it’s your duty to facilitate that space. And in order to offer that space for your students, your cues must be clear enough that their bodies can follow without their minds being interrupted to interpret your words. Every word must be chosen with the utmost care so that the nervous system can respond while the mind continues to practice silence.
It’s a beautiful practice, teaching yoga, and I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am forever grateful for this collarbone injury. It helped me recognized the value of silence in a classroom and how to hold space for your students so they each can whole-heartedly dive into their own personal experience.