I recently did a yoga teacher training and have since even taught a class. I am okay. It will take a lot of work to be a good teacher, to be anything close to my own teachers. Difficult but not impossible. I will continue to practice.
One teacher who seems to be very interested in improving the quality of yoga teaching in the U.S. is Amy Ippoliti, a senior Anusara teacher. I’ve never studied with her, but I’ve been perusing, and impressed by, her online offerings. She has organized a $500 online workshop called 90 Minutes to Change the World, which promises to reveal the secrets of how to be such a great yoga teacher that students will beat down your doors. I haven’t taken the course, but the feedback seems positive, and the video clips promoting the course are clear, practical and inspiring.
Amy wants her course to offer what she calls “local teachers” (as in, non-superstars, who teach locally) practical tips on how to elevate the level of their teachings and thus pack in the students. One of her big themes is that the best yoga teachers spend the most time on the mat. This jives with what one of my own teachers, Dana Flynn, emphasizes: the necessity of a daily home practice.
Another of Amy’s insights about being a kick ass yoga teacher is the importance of “vesselifying“: dropping into the channel of what makes you unique and letting that divinity [for lack of a better term] pour through you. This is true for yoga teachers, and also for musicians, artists, public speakers. She says that there are 3 ways to vesselify/channel:
1. Pause. Open yourself and be receptive to divine guidance before the class.
2. Drop into your heart and remember why you teach yoga. Is it to help people increase their self esteem? To help students improve flexibility?
3) Have a class plan.
This is a familiar concept, isn’t it, this vesselification? The ability to tap into oneself, getting into the zone, characterizes the greatest performance artists or sports stars. It’s what, in my experience, distinguishes the good from the great in any field. I worked in the government for a while and regularly had to brief a couple of big name, well respected policymakers. It was terrifying but exhilarating. Terrifying because I would constantly be on my toes, but exhilarating to witness the intensity of their focus, their ability to be present and think deeply, instantly, about whatever complex issues came their way. [They weren’t always right, but they were consistently present.]
Yoga that is!