Saturday, August 14, 2010

Saturday Night

We had another great day in Teacher Training today. We worked with the overarching theme of dedication and commitment and with the UPA of Muscular Energy. It was a very full day of exploring themes, working on sequencing strategies, practice teaching and lots of Q&A. Teacher Training is always such a rich experience in terms of the conversations that come out of simple exercises and teaching drills.

One recurring theme from this Teacher Training and the Teacher Training I have been teaching in Austin is really about guiding paradigms in different yoga systems and yoga studios. I am not talking here about the larger philosophical guiding paradigms as much as I am about the paradigm of "what is supposed to happen in a yoga class" kind of paradigm. For instance, I got started in yoga in Iyengar Yoga and the guiding paradigm of that system was come to class to learn, practice at home to practice. And in the early days of my Anusara experience, I learned Ansuara Yoga much in that way. I definitely always went home sore but the atmosphere of class was definitely, "come to class to learn how to practice."

It seems to me that as the culture of yoga has evolved and grown and expanded there is a very real paradigm for yoga classes to be practice-based environments and the time in the studio is not so much a class as it is a guided practice situation. So in a lot of methods and in a lot of studios, students come to class to practice for the most part.

One time I talked to John about how he saw us and he said, well, people should come to class to learn and definitely leave feeling as though they had a practice. And he said, he wanted people to leave in the hearts and bodies more than in their heads. So, once again, we see that in Ansuara Yoga we are a bit of both and we are never only one thing. And we see that teaching an Ansuara Yoga class is a tall order. Doing one or the other is pretty easy. Accomplishing both is a work of art!

Anyway- this is on my mind because as someone who is training teachers I am finding I have to be very aware when I am asked questions about "how to teach something in class" that I answer relative to a particular paradigm or my answer won't make sense. For instance- Am I being asked, "How would I teach that in a flow class?" or am I being asked, "How would I teach that in a class that was accustomed to demonstrations, refinements and alignment?"

See the things is it can be "Anusara Yoga" if it is a practice-based class one day and we clearly outline what we are doing, why and how we are going to approach that particular class. It can still be "Ansuara Yoga" if we start, stop, outline, explain and demo a lot so long as we set the context for that up appropriately. And I think this kind of freedom and flexibility is a really cool thing as a method. As a method, are not defined by flow or not-flow, by demo or not-demo and as teacher we are not indoctrinated into a long list of do's and don'ts, always and nevers. We are, instead, trained in principles of good teaching and principles of yoga and we are in the boundaries of the method if we are applying those principles consciously and to good effect. It is not so much the what of what we are doing that makes us Ansuara Yoga it is knowing why of why we are doing what we are doing that makes us us, in my opinion. Also, I think we have an obligation to teach our students the why of what we are doing also. And we need to educate our students in how to participate in the paradigm of class that we are offering.

So then, of course, all of this this begs the question of do we know the why, and do we know how to evaluate "good effect" in any given situation? And, do we have the clarity and courage to reflect on our efforts and offerings and the commitment and dedication necessary to refine them more and more so we become increasingly effective as teachers? I suppose that is another post but really this kind of conversation is why I find teacher training so interesting to teach. The process of learning to be a yoga teacher never ends and the need to reflect and refine is ongoing. Seriously, its never boring.

Anyway, we had a great day, the students are rocking and I must say that it is totally fun to be doing teacher training with a group of people who know each other so well after being in Immersions together. I think its much more like a bunch of good friends getting together again and a whole lot less neurotic nervousness than if everyone had met for Teacher Training for the first time.

more tomorrow.