There are many ways to prepare, or not to prepare, for teaching your yoga class. Some teachers have very detailed plans, pose by pose, prop by prop, of what they intend to teach. Others choose to be guided by the students that show up and by what feels right in the moment. To each her own and ultimately you do what works best and most effectively for you. But as a teacher, how often do you examine your intention before walking into class, or your overall intention for teaching yoga in the first place?
This, I have come to believe, is the most important preparation of all. Wouldn’t you rather be a force of authenticity, rather than simply a voice in the room?
I think most of us buy into the notion that “thoughts become things,” that there is immense power behind your thoughts and words. Many teachers suggest to their students at the beginning of class to set an intention for their practice. But other than leading students toward a peak pose, what is your true intention for being there? What is your purpose and what are you trying to achieve by bringing yoga into peoples’ lives? Who do you aim to serve?
Breaking off on my own to cultivate a thriving practice in a private studio space has brought all of these questions to the forefront. There are no trends to follow, owners to please, quotas to meet, etc. It’s all on me to decide which direction I’m going and what I want to bring to my students. I thought I was clear about that before, yet being in this new space has offered the opportunity to re-examine and evolve my teaching intention. Part of that involves observing the impact I’m having, and whom I’m serving most effectively.
Though I knew very quickly after my first teacher training that yoga therapy was the avenue I wanted to pursue, I took my time finding my next path of training, which led me to my current teacher and mentor, Dr. Linda Lack. Through her guidance and the study of her technique The Thinking Body-The Feeling Mind®, I have re-experienced the immense power of yoga to heal, transform, and elevate, and that is what I want to bring to the table every time I am in front of a class.
When I started running my business out of Mind In Body, in an attempt to have wider appeal, I shied away from being too specific about the therapeutic nature of what I was offering. However, that only created ambiguity in my class schedule, and for me as a teacher. What I realized quickly though was that the students coming the most consistently were those needing and experiencing the very real benefits of gentle therapeutic yoga. So now, I have once again embraced that as the core of what I do, with more clarity and certainty than before. Therefore, I am accessing what I am most skilled at offering and what motivates my teaching the most profoundly, while having the greatest possible impact on the community that walks through my door. Having this clarity gives me the confidence to move forward with my message of gentle yoga as a path of healing, and I know that my small personal studio space is perfect for offering that kind of experience.
Like with everything in life, as your skill level and interests as a teacher grow, your intentions are ever-changing and evolving. The important thing is to keep checking in, and be sure that when you step in front of that class, what you’re offering to your students has clarity, knowledge and authenticity behind it so that it reflects your greatest abilities and serves their highest interests.
Open for discussion: What is your teaching intention? How does having a clear intention impact your teaching? Share your voice by commenting below.