Several themes kept coming up which are very familiar to me in terms of common questions with teacher trainees. One theme that we addressed is that age-old issue of"keeping the customer happy" and "teaching people in a balanced, holistic and appropriate way." There is always this balancing act when teaching yoga between "What are my students ready for?", "What are my students open to?" "What are my students looking for?" "What are my students expecting when they come to class?" and"What do my students actually need?", "What is it I want to teach?" "What do I think is appropriate, safe, beneficial?" and so on. (For instance a student may like to flow continually through class without stopping to learn appropriate form. But does that mean that is good for them or good for the long term health of their body and practice? Or, a student may hate sweating and may hate flow-based practice and prefer a more start and stop approach or a class that has less hard work. However, that student might need the strength, determination and focus that learning to stay in a flow can yield. And so on.)
A long time ago I was in a workshop with Manouso Manos, a Senior Iyengar teacher and he was conducting a Q&A. Someone asked a question about one of their clients. And he interrupted her and posed a question of his own. "Why is it," he asked, "that you have clients and I only have students?" He went on to talk about what he saw as the distinctions between the two categories. The conversation has stayed with me a long time and I think about it often and the concept always arises in teacher training. In fact, that question in some form, is lurking behind the scenes of many questions that trainees ask--If I ask people to do something they do not want to do, what will happen to my business? It is not a business issue for everyone. For some it is worrying about their students not liking them, or worrying they will make their students feel bad about themselves or something like that.
Of course, its a balancing act. John has always said, we have to give people enough of what they want so that they stick around long enough for us to give them what they need. And I think that's a good perspective to keep in mind. We may "cater to the client" in the name of "waiting for a teachable moment" but that is a different thing than letting the student's preferences and comfort zone dictate the terms of our teaching. Think about it- put 30 people in a room and try to keep them all happy and satisfied and so forth and you will be a crazy person because 30 people have 30 different ideas, quirks, opinions, preferences, likes, dislikes, etc and so forth.
And as always, it depends on circumstance, personality of the teacher and student and it will always be relevant to what it is we are hoping to accomplish or offer as a teacher.
So that is another point of constant inquiry- why teach yoga? It is so important that we as teachers know why we are in front of the room so that we have a sense of our own standard of what we are up to and why. I can teach the Anusara Yoga Standard but how I express that standard is going to be in relationship to my agenda as a teacher. I may be a teacher who wants to provide a nurturing space, I may be a teacher who wants to provide opportunities for challenge as a means of self-empowerment and so on. I actually think there are a lot of great reasons to teach yoga but I think it is good to know what our unique reasons are.
There are some other things that are on my mind from the weekend but thats what I have time to write about today.