Monday, April 6, 2009


Well, first things first is the link to Pamela's blog where she so aptly embedded the Prana Revolution Mat videos which are super fun and which have some clips of me and of Kelly. Please leave comments on YouTube once you view the videos because then the videos become relevant to the search engines and the project gets helped along. Here is the link to Pammy's site!

Okay, now that the first commercial is over I can recap the Teacher Training from yesterday which was really great. We spent a lot of time on class planning, sequence development and streamlining language so that we rely more on active commands and less on passive descriptions while we teach. My personal opinion is that the number one thing every yoga teacher could do to improve their teaching and its efficacy is to root out passive language and indirect instruction. If teachers of any method could learn to say "step your leg back" as opposed to "leg steps back" or "lift your kidneys up" instead of "kidneys lift" or "please, step to the front of your mat" instead of "Stepping to the front of your mat..." or "lift your arms up" instead of "Allowing your arms to lift up" or ''hug your muscles to your bones" as opposed to "feeling your muscles draw to the bone" they would dramatically increase the efficacy of their teaching. It sounds super picky but think about it- muscles do not firm on their own, kidneys will rarely lift on their own, and legs are not self- motivated agents that can step back into a lunge with no help from us and so on.

Certainly there are times when it is appropriate to say "allow" and "feel" and -ing words are great when they are used to link two actions together (pressing your feet down, lift your chest up" as opposed to just saying, "pressing your feet down, chest lifting up...") So anyway- that is the free teacher training advice for this morning.

We worked a lot on those language refinements over the weekend while practicing creating class plans, course curriculum, and using different templates as guidelines for how to teach Anusara Yoga in different scenarios. For instance it is one thing to teach Anusara Yoga to people who know nothing about yoga and something quite different to teach Anusara Yoga to an experienced group of yogis. I did my best to teach the training from principles of teaching as opposed to rules or exact "how-to's" because so many things can work quite effectively. There is no one way to teach Anusara Yoga. That is so fantastic and so challenging at times, both for the Teacher Trainer and for the teacher in training. I tried to show examples that could be applied to any of the principles, to different populations and so forth.

Teacher Training is kind of like that idea of feeding people fish or teaching them to fish for themselves. As a teacher trainer I want to teach people to fish, not just feed them fish. There simply is not time in the scope of Teacher Training weekends to go over every possible scenario one might encounter as a teacher of this method. What we can attempt to do is communicate a way of thinking about things, that if applied skillfully over time, will result in the ability to effectively convey this method to others. (And I have to say that if you are a teacher in training and you want to know how I would teach this to beginners or how I would teach this to advanced people or how I would teach it to experienced people new to our method, then come to a beginning class or come to an advanced class and not just once. Come regularly. Come and see it in action. We can always come to class with a teacher training mindset and be a student of the teacher's teaching methods. That is the best teacher training there is, in my opinion.)

But back to the TT- what I love is that with every training I offer, I get better at teaching these fishing lessons, partly because i have gotten more clear that that is what I am trying to do!Jess G was in the TT I did in Austin almost three years ago when I first moved here and she sat in on one of the sessions over the weekend. On a break she told me that not only did she enjoy the material, she was really struck by the difference in me and my presentation of the material. So that was great feedback for me personally. And every group is different which is cool because then each group teaches me more about how to streamline the teaching concepts and how to give experiential exercise to explore them. (I did Level One Teacher Training with John like 5 times. Never boring, always something to learn, always interesting to watch the evolution in his presentation.)

So, there are 2 more spaces in the teacher training with Noah and ten more slots left in the weekend intensive. If you have told me you are coming and I do not have a check from you, get me a check ASAP or tell me you have changed your mind so I do not hold a spot for you. I will be contacting teacher training participants shortly with details. Both events are now in Austin to make it more convenient for everyone, so please come if you can. It's really awesome- we ahve folks coming from Arizona, Canada, Georgia, Dallas...


Dale said...

I took some YogaFit training that uses "process language" to invite the class to follow the teacher's instructions. When on all-4's, I found it confusing to hear "from down dog" because I was not in DD. I had to _think_ about what the instructor meant in order to realise that I was supposed to go to DD. I tried this on one of my classes, & they were not impressed. What they wanted from their teacher was not a specific style of language, but clear and definite instructions.

I appreciate that YogaFit is bringing decent yoga to the health club scene, and their program has many strengths & good ways to lead non-Yogis in a basic flow class (probably better than some other vinyasa classes I could mention :-). But this odd way of speaking is not one of them.

When I am teaching, I work to give clear instructions to my students/friends/brothers. They expect me to lead them in clear and correct paths, not get them lost in a swamp of fuzzy instructions and uncertainties.

And of course, I do not demand obedience - I ask that they focus on the practice - combine the knowledge that I have taught them, their experience, and an awareness and respect for their body - to practice safely and with skill.

When I am in an Anusara class, I'm not there just for the experience - as a yogi, I want to learn more of the tech to improve my practice. As a teacher, I want to learn how to better serve my students. My Anusara teachers deliver this with clarity and certainty :-).

That was fun :-).

Christina Sell said...

Amen, brother!