As yoga teachers, we know that our yoga practice is an intimate experience where we take time out to drop into our bodies and explore our vast inner landscape.
This is a space deep within us that we all have access to. It’s that quiet center or sanctuary where peace and calm reside. It is a place filled with subtleties like breath, sensation and intuition.
It is also consistent. No matter what is whirling around on the outside, this inner realm remains solid and true. If you take the time to listen close enough, it speaks back with vital information about where to go, your desires, and so much more.
What awaits you there? Breath, sensation, wisdom, a deeper connection with Self and the remembrance of the unique gifts that you have to offer the world.
On our mats, we have the opportunity to dissolve barriers while stepping into our inherent fullness. With practice, we can read the subtle messages from our body and use that in so many ways – to direct our own physical practice, to better know when to back off or when to keep going, or inform and inspire our offerings as yoga teachers.
I’ve become fascinated with the inner landscape and how we, as yoga teachers and students, can fine-tune our awareness so that we can better hear the language that is happening deep within and bring it out into the world.
The following tips for yoga teachers are ones I’ve found helpful in cultivating the relationship with my inner world. Hopefully they enhance your practice and your students’ practices as well!
Practice What You Teach.
Practice the poses you are planning to teach. Practice the sequences you plan for class. While in them, examine how your body feels. Spend time with the pose, noting where sensation lives and what shows up for you both physically and emotionally. By experiencing the pose yourself, you cultivate more compassion and understanding toward your yoga students when they are practicing the poses. Drawing from your own experience also helps you articulate it for your yoga students and demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about!
Craft Language Around Your Experience
After spending time in the poses, write down what came up for you. Writing down the experience will help you create clear, concise language around it. It will also help you cue the pose efficiently and steer your student’s attention in the right direction. Writing also helps me remember my experience so that when I teach, my cues are coming from a place of direct experience and authenticity. This helps you cultivate a teacher voice that is both genuine and meaningful to you, which is felt by your yoga students.
Play around with where to direct your students’ awareness. For example: the rhythm and texture of breath, temperature on the skin, the flushing effect after a deep stretch, spaciousness in different areas of the physical body, areas of strength and areas of softness. These can be nice accessible grounding points that help anchor them back into the moment where they can absorb the entirety of the pose.
Invite Space for Silence
Be aware of how much you talk in class. Are there times when silence would be more effective? Leave space for silence. Give your students the autonomy to explore their own experience. Silence is a beautiful way to amplify the depth of our yoga practice. It can also be extremely therapeutic. It takes time to find the balance between talking and being quiet, but be patient and always be mindful of moments when silence could step in.
Leave Ample Time for Savasana
As a yoga teacher, it’s always a good idea to leave enough time for savasana. This is where the real work happens; when the student has the chance to absorb all of the benefits from practice. I tend to add a restorative posture before savasana to help students transition easefully into their final relaxation pose. Sure, it is often harder to be still and quiet. People just want to move! But everyone could use a little time to restore and replenish. It may be the only time in your student’s day when they get a moment to just be. This time is healing and naturally allows the inner world to come alive.