Invite a Personal Connection

It’s great that you have really worked with a concept and are excited to share. But your experience is yours alone and is not enough to teach effectively. If you teach the concept from your perspective only, there are many people who won’t identify and will either tune out or not feel that the teaching applies to them. Giving a few examples from your personal experience can be wonderful, but the main thrust should be to speak to a more universal application so that each student can find her own way into the teaching.

A related point is really understanding the theme. Sometimes we have a deeply meaningful experience but for awhile, are unable to communicate about it with context or clarity. The ability to truly understand what happened and communicate it effectively may take time and perspective. The perspective that is gained helps you to teach the concept universally.

An excellent way of making teachings universal is to reference traditional wisdom texts and expert commentaries. And then invite a personal connection through examples and practices.


Let’s say that you were browsing  Themes & Readings and under Theme: Connection, Union you found the following teaching particularly inspirational:

Yoga is a Sanskrit word that means “yoke,” [which] means “union” and “joining.” … The interesting thing… however, is that union and joining do not mean the same thing. Union means oneness, wholeness, not separated or divided, indivisible. Joining means coming together, implying the formation of a union from a previous condition of separation. The implication here is that people who at one time felt separated, abandoned and alone, like strangers in a strange and hostile land, now feel connected, in harmony, safe and whole because of yoga. – Erich Schiffmann

The universal teaching is the meaning of yoga and the many expert commentaries to choose from, including Erich Schiffmann’s observation.

Then you could introduce a way to make it personal, such as:

Right now, in this pose, take a moment to observe your body, mind and emotions…

  • Is there anything that feels separate or abandoned?
  • If you don’t know what I mean by feeling separate or abandoned, another question could be: Is there something in your body that you’re trying to ignore or feelings that you are trying to forget?
  • Or, is there, say, a part of your body or a feeling that you can’t seem to connect with, even when you try?

Examples: The right side of your body? Your hamstrings? A feeling of anger or grief? A sense of independence or power? A thought you can’t seem to get rid of? Your heart or a feeling of compassion?

From there, the in-class practice might be:

  1. Right now, what feels separate or abandoned?
  2. Take a moment to witness the alone-part.
  3. Notice any judgment that arises. (I don’t want to feel that, I don’t approve of that, I want a break from that.) Allow the judgment to pass and simply observe with interest and compassion.
  4. Consider inviting in the separateness, asking it to join you and your practice.