Where does a yoga teacher’s inspiration come from? As a teacher you, of course, want to start every class knowing you have something to offer your students. You would like every student to take something away with them. So it remains a constant process (and so much learning) for me.
1. Surf the net. Of course, the first place one tends to turn to is the internet. Browsing sometimes brings ideas. All we need is a tiny seed. I have found one or two blogs where a wonderful person offers a list of ideas.
2. Books. I have a wonderful collection of books on yoga, yoga instruction, assisting, the Sutras, philosphies, and so on. A mine of ideas.
3. Let your students guide you. It is important to me that I don’t completely structure a class from beginning to end. I have, from time to time, walked into a class and simply started teaching–allowing the energy in the room (whatever it may be) to guide me. Many students joke a little that if they want to find out what is going on in the instructor’s life, they just have to go to class.
4. Poetry. I have often gained ideas by something that caught my eye; a quotation or a poem. Students have often asked me for a copy of something I read in class. Sometimes I print a few copies that my students can help themselves to after class.
5. Listen to your heart. Perhaps you felt an emotion when something happened during your day. Maybe you felt gratitude or wonder. Explore that. You could pretty easily build that into a theme.
A while ago I came across an idea for a class I wanted to teach: I wanted to explore the idea of loving something about yourself that you don’t really like.
A few hours before class I spotted, quite by chance, a quotation by Herman Hesse: “We are not going in circles, we are going upwards. The path is a spiral; we have already climbed many steps.” This was profound for me, as I recently spent two years grieving the betrayal of someone I really loved. This quote spoke to me. While I am very much over the heartbreak, there are times when I know we might all feel a little stuck. So I shared this quote with my class and we talked about circles and we talked about doing our asanas so many times during so many practices, and yet always finding something different or new. I just love the idea of spirals (so positive and encouraging), and of course they offer so many opportunities for twisting poses, or exploring circles of energy with asanas like Padangusthasana (big toe pose) or Natarajasana (dancer’s pose).
The wonderful thing about finding inspiration this way is that you can talk authentically about it, as it is something you are thinking about. You are speaking from the heart and sometimes from experience. The idea develops as you go along. You feel that you are in a conversation with your class. It is so encouraging when you see students nod in agreement with something you’ve said. That, in my view, is really connecting with the practitioners in your class. A little laughter goes a long way too.
I think it is a good idea to have a reasonable idea of what you want to do with your class before you arrive, but you should also be prepared to completely, or at least partially, abandon your plan for what is in your heart. Life, as it happens during our day, is where the inspiration lies. That is what everyone can relate to. We are all learning as we go along.
Om Shanti Om – may you find peace.
Published in My Yoga Onlilne Thursday 29 May 2014