When I teach the Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) program I often have a conversation around the difference between a yoga instructor and a yoga teacher.
I like to see myself as a yoga teacher, I actually teach my students something. I educate them. I obviously do this in the yoga teacher training program because I am educating students on what yoga is and how to teach it well.
However, I think it is important to differentiate between instructor and teacher when teaching a general public class in a yoga studio as well. An instructor instructs people what to do, ‘exhale and step your right foot forward, inhale your arms up to the sky.’ You can go through an entire class with an instructor and not learn a single thing.
On the other hand, a teacher educates you. One of my amazing teachers, Alexandria Crow, doesn’t call her class plan a sequence, like most of us do. She comes to class with a lesson plan… I love that! She always goes into the studio planning to teach her students something. By adding in this education element you also give your students a mental workout.
For me personally, I like to teach anatomy and how the body moves. It is really helpful to educate students on variations within their individual bodies and how to account for that in their practice (like the carrying angle in the elbow joint). However, my heart really sings when I teach philosophy. I became a yoga teacher because I wanted to help others, I wanted to make a small difference in the world. Yoga philosophy has helped me so much that I want to share it with everyone. So I try to always teach a part of yoga philosophy in every class.
Of course when you attend my classes I will instruct, to an extent. But more so, I will try to teach you something new and invite you to explore your own experience on the mat.
So when we have this conversation in YTT I always encourage new teachers to keep this in mind. Teach and educate your students, help them to grow and discover new things.
PS- If you feel like you have nothing to teach or you’re stuck then I have a few thoughts for you….
· In order to teach, you just need to know slightly more than someone else. You know more about anatomy and the yoga practice so share that!
· It doesn’t have to be a revolutionary new thought. The basics in the yoga sutras give us plenty to teach and explore on the mat.
· If you are feeling uninspired, that means it is time for you the learn something new J
· Get out of your head! You have something special and important to share. Believe in yourself and your knowledge.