My teaching style is what resonates with me, based on who I have trained with, who I have practiced with, and what works for me. From the very first time I practised, in my yoga diary I kept a list of things that I liked and didn’t like about different instructors and styles, and I constantly refer to it to ensure that I am being true to myself in my teaching, or in other words, authentic. I have always noticed an amazing difference between a teacher who treats it as a job, something they think they should do, or want to do, and a teacher to who yoga is part of them, a part of who they are.
I don’t do the practice with you
For example, if I am in down dog (or any other pose) with you, then I am not actually teaching you, I might not even be able to see you. I am just running through a preset script in my mind and might as well be sitting with my back to you, or even just playing a audio or video clip for you. By not practicing with you, I can actually teach to what I see going on, and to how people are reacting, modifying the practice as needed to suit what is actually happening rather than what I think should be happening.
I don’t lead the practice
Because I don’t “lead” the practice, it encourages you to become more “present” rather than escaping into a non present state. You have to be aware of what you are doing with your body at the same time being aware of what is going on around you. When I teach, I don’t want you to listen to me, I want you to listen to your breath and your body, and I want you to “hear” me.
I don’t teach from the mat
If I just stand or sit at the front of the class and talk, how can I possibly see everything that is going on? I need to be able to see the curves in spines, the level of hips, the height of heels from the ground, alignment of legs etc. By moving around the room I am able to give personal attention to each and every one of you.
I do physical adjustments
Most people learn kinesetically, by “doing”. If you are not doing it right, then an adjustment to show you how it should feel works wonders for most people. The way this adjustment is done is very important, it can’t be too light, it just feels creepy then, and it definitely should not ever be a manual adjustment of your position, it should be a guiding movement to encourage you to take yourself to the new position. If you don’t like to be adjusted, make sure you say something.
I teach a very physcially intense practise
Not because I want to flog you, and not to be “just” a workout, but to encourage you to take responsibility for yourself. To take responsibility for finding your limits, and backing off or resting when you need to, rather than being told to. Personally, I find that in a gentle led practise I am not really present, I am just there, hanging out, mind all over the place, whereas in a strong practise I am very focused and present, without having to struggle or work at it.
I don’t try to be your friend
First and foremost, during class, I am your instructor. I have done classes with instructors who try to please their students in class, or try to be your friend in class, but this honestly does not benefit anyone, and comes accross feeling in-authentic. During the class I am your teacher, I am there to guide you and help you through the practise. This may include pushing you physically until you want to drop or feeding you ideas and philosophies that may make you come to some realisations about your life that can make you want to break down and cry.
I am not “right”
One of my favorite sayings is by Buddha, “Don’t believe anything, just because I said it. Find out for yourself.” In my eyes, this is one of the most profound truths I have ever heard. Just because I teach you a particular way, or do something in a particular style, does it mean that it is “right” for you. Everybody is different, and what works for one person may not for the other. All I ask is that you try what I am teaching, and then decide for yourself. If there are contradictions between another teacher and myself, thats ok, neither way is wrong, they are just different. If I contradict myself, that happens, different poses, different people, different days, again, decide for yourself which works best for you.
I love feedback
Seriously, I do. Be brutal, be 100% honest, don’t hold anything back. If I have a problem with something you tell me, guess what, it is MY problem, not yours. Without feedback, instructors just cannot improve or change. How we receive feedback is a very telling factor. When I receive feedback, I take it without defending myself, and "try it on", or see if it fits. Try seeing it from your point of view. And then decide for myself whether I think it is something I need to work on. (Or I try to do this anyway, nobody is perfect right /wink). It doesn’t matter how small or large you think something might be, just let me have it.