And I Don't Want To Miss A Thing...

Inspired by a recent teacher training program with Darren Rhodes, I’m now practicing conscious yoga teaching.

It’s not that I wasn’t a conscious teacher before… I just wasn’t conscious enough.

Sure I knew what I was doing, how to raise and lower the energy of the room and how to avoid injuries, but I wasn't totally conscious of everything I say and the potential meaning behind it.

You see, I was encouraged to say certain things while teaching (I’m sure most of us teachers are). It’s not necessarily because those words felt right for me, but because it was right for the style of yoga. Indeed I follow a style of yoga because it feels right for me, but that doesn’t mean I should say something out of habit vs. making it a conscious choice. 

Conscious teaching involves a lot of listening and correcting on the spot, to the point where I’m asking myself why I use words like “lift the leg” vs. “lift your leg.” This may sound nit-picky, but each word has a meaning, and I want my class themes to be a conscious choice, gifted consciously to my students. I don’t want to miss a thing.

With the magnifying glass on my own teaching, I expected to hear a whole lot of “your” and no “the’s”, but when I tuned in, to my surprise, I did use “the” more often.

I had to ask why. Was this on purpose? Is this a technique I’m imploring to help students avoid a sense of ego in their yoga practice? (note: “ego” is used here to reference a person’s sense of self - not over confidence). I sat with it for awhile and pondered both sides. There’s no right answer, except the one that’s right for me.

I found that giving an instruction using “the” followed by the name of a body part, felt a little cold. I could see the benefits from a Classically dual point of view where eradicating the ego is considered a good thing. But for me, for now, my path hasn’t called for that. I sit well with the idea that embodiment (human-ness yo!) is a gift that was meant to be, and with embodiment comes a very human sense of self. I prefer to work with my ‘gift’ instead of eradicate it. Moving forward, I’m changing all instances of “the” in my yoga classes to “your.” Bear with me, it may will take some practice.

Another word I’ve caught myself using is “advanced.” “Advanced” suggests it’s better than another option but realistically, it’s not. What’s truly advanced is knowing what’s right for you at that moment and that will and should, change often.

My focus on conscious teaching has snuck into my life outside the yoga room. Staying conscious is calling me to get closer to my truth and understand why I do what I do and say what I say. It matters. Here’s why:

Take care of your thoughts, because they will become words.

Take care of your words, because they will become actions.

Take care of your actions, because they will become habits.

Take care of your habits, because they will form your character.

Take care of your character, because it will form your destiny.

And your destiny, will be your life.

-Dalai Lama

I really don’t want to miss a thing. What are you missing?

Teachers out there - any thoughts, tips or experiences to share on your teachings?