Teaching is An Act of Creation: Reaching Your Teaching Potential

You might be the best yoga student on the planet… but if you walk from your practice mat to the front of the room to teach, things change in an instant. You are stepping into a completely different role — one that requires skills that are unrelated to being a good student.

As the teacher, you are creating an environment with your energy, word choice, selection of poses, teachings and practices, style of demonstration and teaching — and perhaps other elements such as music or touch.

Everything you are sharing is not for your own preferences, but for the unique needs of the various people in front of you.

How could you possibly do this effectively if you just took what you knew from being in the role of a student? You couldn’t, of course.

How you prepare to teach a class is as unique as you are. Some teachers use a written plan that includes a detailed sequence, teaching points and more. And some teachers walk into class with only a mental image of their intended focus. Still, no matter your style, teaching is an act of creation.

Even if you select pre-existing sequences and teachings, your choices and how you weave things together and verbalize them is an act of creation. And that’s just the tip of the creation iceberg. Let’s say that after seeing a student struggle with your teaching of Chaturanga that you determine to come back prepared with more propped versions and different cues. Or maybe after noticing how quickly the daylight gave way to darkness, you decide you want more ideas for a class that balances the energy of winter.

Such ideas are forms of inspiration; and to act on your inspiration, you need to actively gather information and create a plan. You won’t do this successfully or efficiently by checking your email or social media for ideas on Chaturanga variations. Even if you’re scheduled to attend a teacher training workshop, Chaturanga might not be the focus that day.

Such information sources are set up for passive consumption of particular topics determined by someone else. Reviewing them may serve you at times, but they are a passive form of receiving what someone else is choosing to give. If you want to create something to meet your particular vision, then you must set distractions aside and directly pursue what has inspired you. This might mean that you review training notes or books, pull up saved email files or search a trusted site. You might use your idea as a focus for your own practice or engage with a mentor or colleague to discuss it.

All such activities are fine options, and all require you to take proactive action. This is in contrast to passively allowing yourself to follow wherever your device leads you.