Meditating on teaching

mats in the car.JPG
mats and blocks in the car

I went round to my new yoga-friend last night to practise teaching. She’d done a day’s work, taught a yoga class at work, and now it was her turn for some time on the mat. So there we were in a corner of her home (which made for some fun cues involving directions like ‘stretching out as though you’re going through the cat-flap’ and ‘square your hips to the tumble drier’!). She was on the mat, and I was trying not to pace about nervously as I watched.

We reflected a little on teaching experiences afterwards. She felt desperately in need of yoga after teaching her class. She seemed almost to feel resentment that she’d offered it out and not got anything in return (well, a small amount of cash in her case!). Now she wanted yoga for herself.

I didn’t feel this so much. And I hadn’t actually had time for my own physical practice that day.

And teaching is tiring! I’m not yet used to teaching in this style (vinyasa) — an hour of almost ceaseless commentary, verbal guidance, maybe a subtle physical suggestion here and there. The concentration required! — and I did have a list of poses written down, so I wasn’t performing an act of memory. But afterwards I felt a deep sense of peace. For me this experience was almost like a meditation. I had spent an hour reaching out with my heart to offer something, focused and deliberate, yes, but also full of faith and hope and love.

hands.jpgAfterwards I felt at rest. I felt generous; I felt a better version of myself.

That’s what yoga is about for me. I never thought teaching might be about that too.

My teacher often says he learns much from us, his students. I used to think this was some weird yogic-modesty thing that I would never understand. Now I might begin to see…

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