For me, at the heart of Level One Teacher Training is the refinement of verbal articulation skills. I remember years ago in Teacher Training John said that teaching yoga was "a process of articulating your inner experience." I have reflected on that a lot over the years because it remember his words as striking me with the reality of how important what we say and how we say it is and what we do not say as yoga teachers.
I am not talking here about the consideration of how we need to speak kindly and make sure we do not cause unnecessary harm while we are in the seat of the teacher, although that is part of the discussion, I suppose. I am talking here about the hue clarity and precision we use when we are teaching the poses themselves, when we are languaging the principles when we are weaving our theme. I remarked in the class the other day that if teachers everywhere, regardless of method could simply, precisely and clearly talk students into and out of basic form with an economy of words, the conversation of yoga would be elevated immediately. So often our students are not achieving optimal form, not because they are too stiff, weak or uninspired but because our instructions of what to do and how to do it are bogged down in mixed messages, filler words, too much information, and jargon. Oddly it takes a lot of effort to weed these things out of our teaching and learn to clearly, confidently and precisely "say what we mean and mean what we say."
The students have been working hard and asking sincere questions and we have sent a lot of time outlining the distinction between the UPA as a point of emphasis and what that really means. It seems there is a fair amount of confusion about that out there in the world of new Anusara yoga teachers. We all have to remember that the UPA is a point of emphasis and not an exercise in exclusivity. We will instruct other actions, we Will say other things it is just that the primary lesson of the day and the main point of emphasis will be a UPA and that that UPA is tied to the heart theme.
obviously, this is not the only way to teach but it is the video standard and if we get good at this basic skill set then, we can experiment and explore from there. The thing about a standard is that it outlines a set of criteria that will help to ensure that if we are meeting them, we will most likely be effective in our pursuit of teaching Anusara Yoga. But the standard is not there to say "and this is the only thing that works." we can not possibly write down every single effective way to weave a theme and so we say "tie it to a UPA and when you teach that UPA weave it in there." Other ways might work well also but we do need to learn how to master this particular skill.
As always, teaching yoga is not a black or white endeavor and if we make it too formulaic and too "always" and "never" then we are not adequately preparing our trainees for what they will actually be facing in their role as a teacher. John always tells us "it depends" and that answer invites us jot explore and refine and investigate what it depends on and why. He has given us a way to teach yoga that is very similar to they away he has given us to practice yoga-- with principles. If we understand the context of Anusara Yoga and the guiding principles and precepts then it is much easier to navigate the grey area of individual situations.
I am feeling a lot of gratitude to him for this these days. I think teaching us like this is a profound testimony to his faith in us and in our capacity to live beyond rules, regulations and dogma. By giving us guiding principles and by asking us ton establish ourselves in the context of Anusara Yoga over and above a list of particulars, he is inviting us into the very heart of this yoga where from our deep abiding knowledge we express ourselves fully. It is not the easier but wow, is it more worthwhile.
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