What You’re Transmitting: Personal Practice & Study

Personal practice and self-study are vital to a teacher’s impact because teaching is not just a sharing of information. Teaching is a sharing of yourself: your accumulation of experience, your way of life, and a transmission of your energy.

It is said that a teacher can lead a student only as far as she has gone herself. Clearly, a teacher who hasn’t experienced deep meditation, post-pranayama bliss, or a state of equanimity as a result of practice will not be able to adequately express these things. A teacher who struggled for years to master Handstand away from the wall will have some special insights into what it takes to accomplish this. Similarly, a teacher who has experienced chronic low back pain will have a depth of understanding that someone who has not experienced it may never have. *

* Note: While we note this vital point on the importance of a teacher’s personal practice, we would feel remiss if we didn’t also note that direct experience is not enough to be able to teach, nor is it a strict requirement. That is, practice alone doesn’t make a good teacher: being good at handstands isn’t enough to be a good teacher of handstands. Nor is direct practice required to teach something well: there are people, for example, who can coach elite athletes to accomplish what they themselves never have. Similarly, a yoga teacher who can’t enter a Handstand away from the wall, or who hasn’t experienced chronic low back pain can immerse herself in the related topics and through study and care, learn to expertly guide students. We would propose that without personal experience, it may take particular effort to become highly skilled, but the point here is that there are two sides to the coin of “Teach what you know.”

Practice Leads to a High Vibration

Teaching yoga is not merely about conveying intellectual information or guiding students through physical practices. Those are good things to do, but the real impact comes through transmission of a high vibration. And for that, we ourselves need to have a high vibration, which is going to come only through our own deep personal practice and living the teachings. Then students will feel it in their hearts, and that’s when great things begin to happen. – Nayaswami Gyandev McCord

More on Transmission

What makes a teaching transformational? Sometimes you listen to a teacher and, while what they say makes sense, it doesn’t move you. Another teacher might say the same thing and it’s like lightning – brilliantly illuminating the mind and piercing the heart. Same words. Totally different impact. Why?… Transmission teachings connect you directly with: The innate wisdom of your soul; The boundless radiance of your spirit; The sacred nature of your life. – Eric Klein

See more: Art of Teaching Fundamentals: Transmission & Levels of Teaching.

Can Lead Only as Far as She Has Gone

What is being taught is a state of being, a way of living, which by necessity is intrinsic to the character of the teacher. In the study of yoga, the teacher can lead the student only as far as she has gone herself…  Yet the teacher will undoubtedly fail at times; this is part of being human. What is most important is that the teacher has a sincere aspiration and deep commitment to the ethical precepts… If we profess to be teaching yoga, which is a science and art of living, we must practice that way of living ourselves. If we wish only to teach poses or postures, it would be better to call what we do by a name other than yoga. – Donna Farhi