It's great that yoga teachers can memorize passages from the Bhagavad Gita, and “sthira sukham asanam” from the Yoga Sutras. These teachings can either become cute antidotes that are immediately forgotten after class, or if harvested for wisdom, become a catalyst for massive action in creating the lives students imagine for themselves.
A New Breed
The new breed of yoga instructor realizes that we have a moral obligation as yoga instructors to empower students not only through movement for an hour, but also in crafting themes that students can live and breath into every day. Our service and love for our students must carry far off the mat.
Archaic vs. Applicable Knowledge
Understanding history is very important, but focus too much on this, and we get lost in the minutiae of dates and facts that are little more than good trivia game answers.
We as human are egocentric. “How does this apply to me?” If it doesn't, we discard it, because there is way too much stimulus in our environment not to. The stuff that makes the yoga come alive in the classroom, as well as after, is the ecstasy of students seeing the teaching readily apparent in their lives.
Make it about You
We as yoga teachers must wade through these intimidating waters, to share with students our self-growth, in hopes of motivating lasting change in our students. Don't get me wrong, the ancient wisdom of the Upanishads is incredibly important. However, when not mined for the knowledge that is universally applied to today, it is useless. So as a teacher, if you don't identify with the knowledge that ancient texts have for us, it doesn't make you a bad yogi or teacher. It just means that you are more firmly rooted in taking the current state of the world, and moving forward towards a better future. Focus on your stage of growth, and ask questions around that.
Questions, Not Sermons
The most important part of all of this is that our class themes be centered around asking the right questions for students. We will never know the right answer for them. Instead of telling students the way the world works (as if we have any idea), focus on engaging them with the right questions to grow their consciousness.
Call to Action
Make you classes living, breathing art, that you gift your students in each moment of class, in hopes that it affects the way they walk about the earth after leaving.
Three Ways of applying this:
Talk about the macro experiences (universal principles) relevant in your life. It will affect students, because it is living and breathing in you.
Ask Questions: Self-inquiry is the most powerful tool we have as humans for growing our consciousness. Empower your students to use it.
Massive action in the next 24 hours: Give students five seconds after savasana, in meditation; to synthesize the theme, and set an intention for action, in which they can live the teaching in the next 24 hours. Students will love you for boosting their creative potential and ability to grow their consciousness.
On to you:
How can you change the classes that you teach? Or as a student, what one nugget of wisdom from class can you apply in the next 24 hours in your life?