It has been a while since I have posted but inspired by tonight’s Yoga Dance Class i have some thoughts to share. Reflecting on my own teaching style and asking my self why do i teach the way i do ? Was i taught to do it this particular way ? Am i emulating what i have experienced in other classes and enjoyed ? Am i just repeating what i have heard others say ? Or am i coming from my own direct experience and sharing what i have experienced to be true, not just what i have heard or seen. There were various flavors of yes and no for each question, but with these questions came a perspective that i feel would be a valuable one to consider. Making no claim this is a correct or superior perspective, each teaching style has something to offer. Here is one of many:
The thing that got me thinking about this in the first place is that i often don’t assist while i am leading a class. I find it difficult to maintain a good rhythm and flow , while assisting individual people (perhaps this is something that comes with experience). You also never really know if a particular person on a particular day would even prefer having an assist. If they do happen to prefer one and they notice others getting an assist, they may start to subtly crave one and throw off the balance of the mind. Any form of outside stimulation , like a physical adjustment or a verbal command directed towards an individual can be a distraction to the meditative aspect of the flow. Of course there are benefits as well for being physical guided into proper alignment or verbally corrected if your doing something that may injure you. There is a place for each perspective, here i focus on the non assist perspective.
When i say non assist i am referring to no physical assists, as well as no verbal assists directed at a particular person. So if your not assisting either physically or verbally what are you doing as you teach ? Practicing. Just like everyone else, we come to yoga to practice. What are we practicing ? Absorption. Absorption with our direct experience. Being fully present. Awake and aware, content and non attached. Taping into our energetic nature and observing as it unfolds. Although when you need to lead a class, how do you direct the practice of others ? By being completely present with your own practice and describing in as much detail as possible, exactly what you are doing moment by moment. As you feel the adjustments you make in your own practice coming into alignment, describing that experience. Clearly seeing what your doing physically and mentally, then finding the words to explain. Not only then are you practicing what you preach , but you are only preaching what you yourself are practicing in that moment. Instead of having thoughts about what you will teach and how you will teach it, actually practicing your self and just describe what you are aware of.
This can be a practice its self for the teacher. Staying so present with your own practice that you are able to explain exactly what your body is doing. Letting the students take in that information and apply little parts of it that relate to them at that moment. While still allowing the freedom of the students to make their own decisions on what feels right in their body. With out ever correcting them , but offering general detailed enough alignment principles that they will correct them selves when ready. Finding the alignment in their own body which only they have the direct experience of. No one else can find that for them.
I offer this approach as an option to consider. Making it very easy to show up to teach. Simply practice and describe. Do not disturb, the natural flow of each persons individual experience. This may not be the optimal approach for beginners, but can potentially be used once a practitioner has become aware enough to not injure themselves. What do you think ?