Adihkara (studentship) is one of the most important aspects of life. As a yoga teacher advancing your education is not only beneficial, but vital for your personal and professional growth. It's imperative that we invest in ourselves through our own practices -- our daily Sadhana, as well as deeper immersions with more skillful teachers to aid us in the process of purification.
Our personal experiences of yoga are the highest gifts we can offer our students (families and communities!) and help us to honestly and effectively share our truths.
Studentship invites growth and deep transformation, however it is not always easy. With age and lack of awareness, our egos can sway into unhealthy states as we become conditioned by our previous beliefs and build resistance to 'emptying out'. This important process of emptying out allows us to step into a beginners mindset to receive, digest and integrate new teachings. Studentship is a practice of full humility, receptivity and surrender.
The qualities of studentship are intrinsic to Prakriti (nature). Life is programmed to evolve -- everything is born with a unique purpose and desire to dynamically dance through the Dukha (challenges/shadows) and Sukha (sweetness/beauty) of life...
The role of a yoga teacher requires healthy and consistent studentship, on and off the mat.
Just as the teachings are vast and diverse, so are the ways in which we share them with our students depending on each students needs. It is our duty to make the teachings accessible and empowering to all. There is huge responsibility that comes with teaching yoga as we are invite people into their many diverse layers for the purpose of purification and transfromation.
Teaching requires an incredible amount of steadiness, skill, intuition, authenticity, neutrality and loving-kindness.
While these qualities are more easily available to some teachers earlier than others, most likely they were not developed overnight or after the first Yoga Teacher Training. Our brains can only retain a certain amount of information at once, so it takes years of practice, study, and life experience to integrate teachings from a place of authenticity.
To become experienced and refined teachers, we must continually move through the cycle of studentship with the same devotion and commitment we expect our students to exude.
Below are 3 ways to step into your seat of the teacher:
1. Practice practice practice! When we teach from a place of personal experience we can better express the sensations, challenges and ways we moved through something, whether it was learning to hold hand stand in the middle of the room or maintaining integrity during a difficult negotiation. When we speak from experience we can better relate to how students are feeling as they move through a similar process. The more we practice our yoga as teachers, the more we build our strong containers and learn to hold space and inspire our students to do the same!
2. Study with experienced teachers: with thousands of yoga teachers in the world, we must be discerning with who we practice with if we are truly looking to evolve our own practice and teachings. While an experienced teacher will be more costly to join at a workshop/retreat/training it will be well worth it. Quality over quantity is a simple mantra to hold close when choosing events. Invite a balance of teachers to learn different methodologies and be okay with keeping only what resonates with you at this moment in your path from each. Most important, put into practice what you have learned. In the beginning it may feel as if it's an imitation, however as you practice there will be an integration and eventually innovation, where you create based on previous teachings/inspiration. Check out Teach.Yoga for highly experienced teacher immersions to take part in!
3. Seek a mentor: traditionally this was one of the most important aspects of learning. Mentorship creates greater depths of support through an intimate relationship, on and off the mat. This teacher gives us personalized attention and tools specific to our needs, knows our boundaries, and holds us accountable to challenge ourselves when we are ready. A mentor should ideally be someone you align with and is interested in providing long term value. Many experienced teachers look to take on 'apprentices' to share their knowledge with and train for future assistance during their events. Mentorship in the yoga world is unique to any other sort of mentorship within business, as the yoga practices encourage a vulnerability, sensitivity and honesty which aid in creating a close, sweet and loving relationship.