As part of my RYT200 teacher training, I get to observe classes held by others and this might very well be the most informative part of the whole learning process. This week I had the opportunity to watch an Asthanga class held by a very young, but also very talented teacher. Her style was both calm and energetic, which is a difficult combination for anyone to pull off. After the class I talked to her and she actually said something that’s been ringing in my head ever since: I became a better teacher when I stopped trying to please people.
This phrase might sound anti-yogic at first glance, since surely being humble and taking every student into account is a yoga teacher’s first priority? However, she had a valid explanation: when first starting out as a teacher, she simply tried to do too much in each class. In addition to actually doing all the poses herself whilst she was explaining them, she tried to cram the lesson full of action, sweat, flow, relaxation and meditation – not to mention clever tips to both beginners and the more advanced. And in that process she almost exhausted herself. As a teacher in the making, this is pretty much what I’m guilty of too – and you can bet I was listening with my ears wide…
Story continued: the solution came when she went to India to study. There teachers were very direct and tight-lipped in their instruction, sometimes bordering on downright rude – and still people came to classes. Why? Well, presumably because the teachers knew their stuff and people trusted their knowledge. From there, she realized that finding your own style of teaching and staying true to that is far more important than trying to give everything to everybody in each class.
This really rung a bell for me, since I’ve been wondering about how to manage doing all this x times a week – and still keep up your own practice and stay on top of things. Luckily, right after the observation class, I was filling in for a friend at an Asthanga class. I decided there and then to test out this theory: I would focus on the things I saw as important and simply leave the rest. So I did – and got really good feedback afterwards. To top it all: I didn’t feel as worn out as I’ve usually done after a class.
So, lesson learned: trying to please everybody is never going to work. I’ll just do my own thing and try to accept the fact that some people will like it, while others won’t. And I’m ever so grateful to all the teachers who’ve paved my way in sharing what they’ve learned. Nothing could be more valuable and I hope I’ll be able to keep sharing it on. Thank you!