Question: What is my responsibility as a Yoga Teacher and what are the pitfalls to watch for in Teaching Yoga?
Answer: Louisa Sear.“Yoga is concerned with freedom from suffering. The first step is to engage in self-introspection and thereby, understand the inner obstacles that can be overcome. The purpose of Yogic tools is to weaken the hindrances which obstruct freedom of the soul.” ~ “Patanjali”
This is a good question and one that maybe some, do not even consider.The responsibilities of a Yoga Teacher are many. Unfortunately this responsibility, which comes with taking on the position of teaching, is not taken too seriously these days. When students embark on their new teaching journey, quite often,it is purely from a career perspective only.
VicharaSadhana is the Sanskrit word for Self Inquiry. As Patanjali states, this is the first step to engage in self-introspection and as other great Masters have said, “He who knows others is wise. He who knows himself is awakened.” ~ Tao TeChing.“Who ever knows himself – knows God.” ~ Muhamad.
The importance of Self Inquiry as an ongoing responsibility for Yoga Teachers is Vital.Once you make the decision, to become a teacher, I feel that you take responsibility to the next level. Now you have a responsibility to your students as well and that starts with your own continued self-responsibility of a dedicated VicharaSadhana, which continuously enlightens you and your students.
I personally feel the most important responsibility for a Teacher is first and foremost responsibility to oneself.This starts with having a commitment and dedication to all that Yoga is. I do not mean having a commitment to an Asana practice. I mean a passion for freedom and understanding of the deeper significance of Yoga and using the tools,that yoga provides, to live a yogic lifestyle to the best of one’s ability. Moving towards freedom from suffering.
Maybe to some this may sound serious or lofty, but this is what it takes in ones own life to begin to be of service to others, one needs to be of service to oneself first. This is self-love.
Yoga is a moment-to-moment practice that takes an ever-present awareness in every aspect of ones existence. It requires; authenticity, courage, strength and compassion, as well as, observance of one’s actions, thoughts and feelings, reactions and responses, agendas, drives, motivations and the constant fluctuations of the mind.
This is not a practice of being obsessive on these matters or over analyzing, but simply being present to what is and bringing awareness and acknowledgement to the different aspects of your mind, without judgment or involvement,to then move forward with greater wisdom.
In my experience of teaching, I see time and time again students who graduate to become teachers quite quickly lose there own practice. They start teaching and quite often take on too many classes resulting in their own practice going out the window. Ones Sadhana is a precious and sacred time. The word practice is exactly that, you are practicing for something? Practicing to be AWAKE to life, to be in presence, a focused time of intention to a particular Sadhana. No matter what practice you are doing, it is the ability to be focused and present to what you are doing. This one pointed focus brings the union of mind, body and spirit that we know Yoga to be.
I always ask my students, has yoga changed you?Does it continue to transform you? If it has not, then it may be time to evaluate how and what you are practicing. Evolution from ones practice is essential.
This responsibility is getting to know what practice is the most beneficial for you. What will be of greatest service to you will be determined by how and what you practice in relationship to your individual needs, physical, mental and emotional state.
I understand that this in itself takes some years of practicing to refine as the practice of Yoga helps reveal/unveil this knowledge. The time frame for this is different for all.This education is a changing and continuous process.
That is also why it is important to have some years of practice behind you before you take on the role of teaching. If you do not gain a certain amount of self-knowledge through your own experience, in your own practice, it is difficult to tune into your students individual needs.
When I talk about responsibility, I do not mean this in a heavy way, but I mean it in a conscious, awake way.We are all at different levels of development and can only do what we are capable of. Having a responsible intention is a good beginning. We want to teach from our experience and example. Teaching Yoga can be very rewarding when done with conscious awareness.
I always say to my trainee teachers that it is a blessing to teach as it puts us in a position that requires even more vigilance in our living of Yoga. Teaching constantly reveals our own shadow, making us aware of our own agendas, reactions and egoic propensities. By teaching the wisdom of Yoga to our students we have the great fortune to be constantly reminded of this precious philosophy everyday.
There are so many things to think about when Teaching Yoga, and not enough space to write, but I wanted to emphasize the importance of self-responsibility first, to ones own dedication and practice of Yoga, as the most important. I hope this may serve as a reminder.
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