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Monday, October 4, 2010

An Advice To A Yoga Teacher On Teaching Classes

A yoga teacher was asked to replace another yoga teacher for taking over some of the yoga classes at a yoga centre... On one condition, she has to teach the similar style and similar exercises as the other yoga teacher is teaching... And the centre will provide two assistants to "assist" her in the class to "make sure" that she won't teach something that is too different from the other yoga teacher... The class size is about 20 - 30 people. She feels confused about the condition because that means she couldn't teach what she usually teach but will have to teach something else that she doesn't practice and have to teach something that is not her own experience of what yoga is about. She is also worried that whether she can handle a group of 20 - 30 people by her ownself. She doesn't know what should she do with the condition that come with the opportunity to share yoga with more people. She is wondering should she take it or leave it?
This is what I told her...

What is big? What is small? What is a lot? What is little?

I taught 200 people in a yoga session before. I also taught 1 person in a yoga session. There is no differences.

It is your confidence that is seeing the differences.

Yoga is not about the physical ability to do the exercises, but it is about not attach to the thoughts, feelings and sensations. Be the witness observing what the body and mind is experiencing. Not being disturbed by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. Remain equanimous, calm and at peace all the time, not being affected by whatever is happening in our life or in the world. Not being influenced by the past or project into the future.

Yoga is purification of the mind and changing the habits of the mind. It is life transforming if it is being practiced accordingly to the yoga philosophy as it is, about non-attachment, non-duality, namelessness and formlessness, compassion and wisdom, transcending happiness and unhappiness and be free, truly free. Free from the condition of the body and the mind, as well as the condition of the world and our life. Free from craving and aversion. Free from impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed and lustful desire. Free from dissatisfaction and disappointment. Free from fear and worry. Free from ignorance. Free from the conflicts that come from duality, and so on...

The process of transformation can be very uncomfortable for the mind and the body. The mind and the body tend to resist this transformation especially at the beginning stage, there are lots of purification going on, lots of "rubbish" need to be throw out from the system physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually... Because the entire path is nothing but trying to eliminate the selfish ego and trying to tame the mind, and trying to go beyond the mind...

Yoga asana practice is about being at the present moment, being aware of the breath and sensations that arise while performing the poses, without generating craving towards the pleasant sensations and not generating aversion towards the unpleasant sensations. Letting go physical and mental tension. Letting go judgment, comparison and expectation. Accept the body as it is. Accept the reality as it is. Accept the present moment as it is. Relaxed into the poses, not forcing, not struggling, should be comfortable in all the exercises. The students should know their own body and their limitation. If there is any physical limitation that they cannot perform certain exercises, then they don't have to do it, just take rest...

Slowly they will develop confidence and physical strength and flexibility to perform most of the basic exercises... It takes time. Once they have mastered the basic exercises having the confidence, strength and flexibility, then they will move into more complicated exercises naturally without any extra guidance...

If they are not perfect in the exercises, never mind. Everyone has different body types, different mentality and different physical limitations. No need to adjust the student's posture so much on the first class. Just let them do whatever they can do, or not do anything that they cannot do.

Every yoga teacher is unique. A yoga teacher share what is in himself or herself with the students. A yoga teacher shares what he or she knows about yoga, his or her own experience and insight, his or her path, his or her compassion and wisdom. It doesn't matter if the students understand the teaching or not, accept it or not, benefited from it or not. Just like God has many "channels", each "channel" does different thing, but it all come from God.

Do you feel the love from God? If you do, then you know what I mean...

Don't see the class as big or small.

You are not the one who is doing the teaching.

You are just the channel/instrument for the universal consciousness to act.

The teaching comes from the universe, not from you.

Be yourself.

Don't mind if they don't want you to teach there anymore. Yoga is self-believe. If you cannot believe in yourself and be true, then what is the meaning of the yoga class?

If you are the one who is doing the teaching, then teach whatever is "you", not about somebody's class... Yoga is be yourself.

About assistant... Normally "assistants" will bring you obstacles if they try to "guide" the students... Unless they truly know what is yoga, that yoga is not about try to imitate other people (not even the teacher) to perform the exercises like everyone does. Everyone is doing the same exercises but not necessary that they will be looking the same. Everyone has different strength and flexibility, and physical limitation like knees injury, back injury, neck injury, hip injury, weak muscles, weak heart or anything... And so, everyone will be doing the exercise depending on their condition. And so, no one should push or pull them into doing any poses that they are not able to do or not comfortable to do.

People get injury in a physical exercise class because the teacher or the assistants simply push or pull the students into certain poses. They don't know what they are doing and they don't really know the condition of the students. Only the students themselves will know how their body feels and on what extent that they can exert or stretch to the maximum. And the responsibility is yours, because it is your class, whether you think that you are the one doing the teaching or you are just the "channel"...

Usually just teaching a yoga asana class we don't need any assistant even if there are 100 people in the class. Only when we do yoga retreats from early morning until late evening doing many classes, then we need different teachers to teach different classes. But even so, one teacher can teach the class by himself or herself, provided that this teacher knows what he or she is doing. It's because other teachers don't know what this teacher want to deliver to the students. A real yoga class has no specific pre-planned exercises to be taught in the class. It is all subject to the present moment now...

Real yoga class is delivering something very special from the teacher's heart directly into the student's heart sharing love, peace, wisdom and compassion. No one but yourself know what you are doing. There is no differences whether there is only one student or 100 students.

That's why assistant are not necessary. Unless that "yoga class" is a physical exercise fitness class about pushing or challenging the students to perform highly complicated exercises, then a few assistants is required to help to supervise the students performance...

Relax, be yourself. There is nobody. No students. No you... Just yoga.

Om shanti.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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