Teaching Yoga From the Heart
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A few days ago, a student came to us at Himalaya Tapovanam and asked me what she should do if she wanted to be a yoga teacher. The first question that came in to my mind was: do you want to be a yoga teacher, or just a mere yoga trainer?
True yoga knowledge
I asked her the same question, and then she asked me the difference. If you look at it, it is very easy to be just a yoga trainer. All you have to know is few asanas (postures) and their benefits. As long as your body is flexible, you attend yoga classes regularly, and you read few books on yoga, you are set to guide some students through a class. But deep inside, you know something is missing. When you are just teaching yoga in such a way, you definitely know yourself that something is missing, that your knowledge is not complete. True knowledge comes from experience.
The view from our studio at Himalaya Tapovanam
Not from your mind, but from your heart
B.K.S. Iyengar, a great yoga guru, once said, "Teach from your heart, not from your mind." It is so beautifully said but one might think: how can you teach from the heart, and what is the difference?
You see, our mind catches things very fast. When you attend a yoga class, your teacher might tell you to feel the energy passing through your body, feel the muscles contractions, and that this is good for some random body parts. Without thinking how it is good and what that particular asana is doing to that particular muscle, we just follow it, putting our belief in the teacher.
What the practice of yoga teaches us
Just saying the exact same words, you can guide students as a trainer because your mind has caught those words. But a real teacher is somebody who experiences those things. He or she knows what exactly is happening inside the body while doing a particular asana.
You might read hundreds of books about asanas and their effects, but still your knowledge is just mind knowledge until you really experience everything that is said in the books. You will get that only by experiencing it. It takes a lot of patience, lot of commitment. But once you experience it, your heart starts teaching. You are guiding students from your own experience.
How long does it take?
Going back to my story, the student then asked me how much time it will take for her to learn yoga completely. This is the toughest question anybody can face, since no one in this world can be so certain about this. If somebody tells you that you will be a teacher within one month, one year, or seven years, they are lying, and they know it deep within their heart.
Our beautiful yoga studio
A person who says "7 years" is also as bad as person who says "1 month", because there is no set time limit or set syllabus to learn this. It is all about experiencing and learning how to live Yoga. We always say either beginner, intermediate, or advanced practitioner, but all are same when you do not know the basics of Yoga and do not understand the Yogic life. After your foundation, your whole practice will change drastically as everything will start making more sense.
Yoga teacher training programs
Personally, I recommend everyone - whether trying to be a teacher or not - to choose the right teacher training program which will cover all the aspects of Yoga and give you right foundation and just do it.
This so-called yoga teacher training programs, however, are just a mere foundation for your self practice, although they are very important. If the teacher training course does not focus on foundation and on telling you that you will learn asanas and be able to teach them, you are just learning asana to be a gym trainer. That's why when we say teacher training at Himalaya Tapovanam, we say that you will be a teacher for yourself first by the end of the course.
The wisdom of yoga practice
Apart from various asana practice everyday, you will be able to understand more about yoga. What is yoga? What is the way of life for a yoga practitioner? What should one expect from it? How do you lead a peaceful and blissful life? Which path to choose, and how to walk the path?
From then on, it is the students' responsibility to choose whether to walk the path or not. If they choose to, here we guide them all throughout by giving access to the most experienced teachers who are available online every Sunday to answer every question student has during their self practice. How long it takes to become a teacher is completely depedent on how committed a seeker is to follow this path. Some achieved this in two to three months months, some in six months, and some in even more time.
Are you a yoga teacher or thinking of becoming one? What principles do you hold in your yoga practice?