I remember a few years ago going to a class with a teacher I had never met. He agreed, and added that he could count on one hand the number of times he had practiced at home on his own. In that moment I knew I would never go to his class again. I even considered walking out right then and there.
Why would I practice with someone who has no practice of his own? And there were times early in my teaching, particularly the year after my divorce, when the last thing I wanted was to be on my mat in my own company with no one else around. I would go weeks and weeks without practicing then.
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These are days that I am either uncomfortable in or disconnected from my body. Scratch that. By the way, that last excuse is one of the biggest loads of bull I continually try to feed myself. What on my to do list is possibly more important than taking the time to anchor myself in my own presence? This is an obstacle for teaching, not to mention for genuine relating of any sort.
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But it does deepen the rut of knowing how to get my mind to shut up, which is a good rut to deepen. It also helps me to actually feel my body, which is imperative in terms of being in touch with what I need—and with what my students need. I consider this a turning point, and I have noticed a difference in my teaching; even if I can only take 15 minutes on my mat in the morning, I feel I have more integrity to offer because of it. And this is what practicing is all about: integrity. Your integrity as a person and as a teacher, and the integrity that your teaching has to offer the yoga community.
Practice is not about being perfect. I can feel how I want to go to my mat so that I can get centered for the sake of my students and to figure out some sort of sequence, as opposed to just using the time to get what I need for myself and trusting that me simply being present will inform the best possible class. All the other stuff like being a more informed teacher and becoming more adept at handstand will just happen if you practice. Becoming yourself through your practice, though, takes creating intentional space for yourself. With a chapter dedicated to each principle, stories from Jay's fourteen years of experience as a yoga teacher, teaching tips and questions for you to reflect upon about your own experience as a teacher, this book helps you to find the truth of your own teaching.
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Teaching Yoga People Not Poses Asanas Jay Fields | Teachers
I figure they have a brain too. Brain picker of tamasic spirit I must struggle valiantly against in the house! Thanks for this excellent excerpt! Like you, I am a strong believer in the importance of home practice.
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And, I have also been surprised to discover that some yoga teachers I know admit to having a very hard time ever practicing on their own. We are creatures of habit, and habit will increasingly carry us through past that resistance. At any rate, exciting to see someone writing insightfully about the important of home practice — personally, I feel strongly that ALL yoga teacher should aim not only to practice at home themselves, but to empower their students to do so as well.
Fine for beginners, of course, but over the long run — very debilitating and antithetical to what I feel yoga is all about. This is a good topic especially for all the people who want to teach or train people. I want to get the book. Brining the mat home and building the consistency of regular practice was a huge turning point for me. Suddenly it became more about how my body felt like moving through the poses, expressing today, than following instructions.
I still attend class where I can, to learn more and benefit from outside eyes on potentially misplaced alignment, but my home practice is something I love. I was unwell with incessant heartburn earlier this year and even childs pose ached. It also allowed me to reap the benefits of longer periods of seated meditation. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. Next post: What is Religion?
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