day 3: teaching is an art

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today we learned all the sanskrit words for the sun salutations in vinyasa – some you know from the class, but some are just really long. we have to learn and use them since it is yoga, so we had our first practical lessons in teaching today. although i already know both variations of sun salutations by heart, standing in front of a class and instruct was really challenging. especially the breathing instructions and keeping the flow. we discussed later and one of the girls is a gym teacher for years, so she gave us some pretty helpful tipps.

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day 2: meditation class is silent and boring. not!

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good evening, guys!

i just returned from my training, gonna do my homework and fall asleep! it was an exhausting day.
after hatha yoga in the morning, we had a class called art of teaching where we got the basic structure of a vinyasa class. after lunch we had anotomy and actually i think the teacher is going a bit too deep into vocabulary. we did only the hip joint today, but learned all the names of all tissue somewhere over there. anyways later was therapeutic class where we were shown how to analyze people’s pain and how we could help eg straps or stretch poses.
meditation really was my best of today: imagine a movement you’ve never done and a language you never spoke – and do it! for 30 minutes, non stop, in a group of 30 people you only know one day. it was amazing, everybody was somehow shaking and talking blabla or chinese-ish while running around in the shala! :D the very best was the 2nd part of the class: we would all randomly choose a person, take each others hand, look deep into their eyes and eventually hug intensly. then go to the next person. it was so beautiful to hug everyone and even after class you could see people hug each other because they had no chance to do so before.

i’m going to bed very happy tonight!
lots of hugs,
sandy

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day 1: i’m a student again!!

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hello guys,
namaste!

i had a really good day today: mind opening classes in stunning surroundings, i’m still flying! :)

we started the day with an easy vinyasa class while the sun was rising. my favorite was the following philosophy class, we discussed what yoga is and what it’s not. it was interesting to hear the other students opinions and i was surprised how many were torn mainly towards the physical benefits of yoga.

in the afternoon we had anatomy class, which was full of new words, but the teacher was pretty cool and made it quite vivid for us. after another vinyasa flow class, where merel taught us how to do downward dog right (we did about 100 dogs i felt :D ) we had meditation class. that was magical as it was my first meditation in a group, by an ancient tibetan technique and with music and humming. it was already dark, we were sitting at the whispering lakes and i could really feel the energy we were sending…

a matter of object can give you joy, like coffee or a romance. but sooner or later it will give you pain. yoga will give you transcendential joy.
– yogesh

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ever wondered what’s a yoga teacher training like? i started today, follow my diary! :)

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namaste!

my name is sandra, i’m from austria and i am doing the parimukti 200 hrs yoga teacher training in goa. i am going to keep you guys updated on daily base with pictures about the classes & around. so just let me know if you like it, or if you have some questions, or if anything else! :)

today afternoon we all met the first time here in goa, india. there are about 30 students and 7 teachers, people are from all over the world and we had a little time to chat. then the teachers opened the course with a beautiful fire ceremony in the shala: in the sense to gain something new, you need to give in something old. to me this was very personal, i thought of some baggage in my old life and symbolically gave a flower to the fire. i remembered the advice from one of the teachers, yogesh:

“if you are open, respect your teachers und give all yourself in, you can have a life changing experience and a month you will never forget!”

sounds great – i’m all in..

tomorrow 7am the first asana class starts, the day is packed until 7pm – for 6 days a week. i’m excited and of course gonna report to you tomorrow about the first training day!

good night,
sandy

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Nobody is perfect.

‘Nobody is perfect’. This is one of these sayings that is used often and everybody agrees to generally shaking their head in vogorous approval when somebody blurts it out. But have you really reflected upon accepting yourself as you are and integrated it into your life?

Have you really applied this saying towards yourself? Have you accepted yourself in little ways and accepted your ‘flaws’ as they are and let go of things ‘that you are not good at’. And simultaneously, do you accept your partner, best friend, parent as he or she is and realise that they are not perfect, willingly ?

What is these elusive perfect anyway? Perfect usually to us is that, which is not upsetting us, it is someone that doesn’t disturb us too much, it is that what is to comforting us. We don’t like it if someone tells us the truth or sometimes even a harsh opinion about us. If some ones honest and non malicious opinion uspsets you . really is he or she the reason that you get upset? Or is it your own mind that makes you upset? Before getting angry at the other person first have a look, a deep look, at yourself before giving the other person a hard time.

Or maybe you are someone who accepts everything from other people, but who is very critical towards yourself. In that case see if you can use that skill of forgiving others flaws towards your own self. It is very beautiful if you can laugh about yourself and don’t take yourself so seriously. It makes life more light and actually makes you more capable of changing certain habits, emotions and situations that are difficult for you. the problem usually with not applying the saying ‘nobody is perfect’ towards yourself is that we are so attached to having a good reputation, to looking being appearing so perfect all the time. This compulsion to false ideals actually suffocates our true self and out natural yearning for freedom and growth. as sll growth naturally comes from learning which involves a lot of failing, a lot of false starts, healthy doses of embarassment and falling flat on our faces. All Fun Stuff. ;-)

We want to be perfect at all times and for everybody. We are attached to that so much that we don’t allow ourselves to make a little mistakes or feel bad, or lose. But this creates so much pressure that we can get depressed when we are not that perfect version of ourselves or when someone is giving us maybe some much needed critical feedback.

Try putting  up a note saying ‘Nobody is perfect and that is ok’ up next to your bed, for a week or so maybe even print some funny pictures of yourself and paste them there as well. Then when you get up look at them and just laugh! Laugh at yourself looking funny and accept that. Then go off and enjoy your day, trying to make the best of it but resting peacefully in moments when ‘you are not being perfect’.

My opinion is that only when you are not trying to be perfcet, It’s actually possible that you are BEING perfect as you are.

Merel Martens

Open your heart and love yourself first

In yoga classes and meditations often the teacher asks you to ‘open your heart’, to see the good in everyone, to ‘realise that we are all one’ and ‘to develop love and compassion for all around you’. One very important remark that has to be noted when reflecting upon these statements is that while opening your heart we are not asking you to ‘become a doormat’, meaning that you should not just be doing anything for everybody.

Opening your heart and developing the inner urge of wanting to teach and help others goes hand in hand with being very confident and developing a health self esteem. Don’t let others walk over and on you as then you cannot be of any help to anyone.

Truly opening your heart means understanding what the other person needs which is an important skill for a yoga teacher, and for any teacher actually. It requires you to recognise where your student is at, in terms of mental, emotional and of physical state and it requires you to being able to respond and work with that. This means that you can push some students to go a little deeper in a pose, to confront that a little more with their own self destructing emotions. For others this means urging them to step back, to take it a little more easy on themselves.

With some students you need to use more academic language and arguments as they might have been raised in a society that appreciates science and for others you might want to use more esoteric explanations in order to make a point. But in order to being able to respond to others you need to take care of yourself and assure that you are balanced and energetic. So open your heart, give yourself love first and then go out there and share with others in a way that benefits that individual in his or her specific situation.

Art of Teaching

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Teaching is indeed an art. It requires full attention and presence, it requires confidence in yourself and creativity. As a beginning teacher we do recommend anyone to prepare your class properly. Good preparation gives a solid foundation to rely upon. With proper prepartion you can teach confidently and let things happen spontaneously.

Authenticity

In ancient times Yoga was transferred from a master to his/her pupil. Much of what the teacher (guru) imparts to the disciple falls under the category of spiritual transmission. The guru literally empowers the student through a transference of ‘energy’ or ‘consciousness’, much like the ‘Holy Spirit’ in a Christian Baptism

 

Through the teachers grace the deserving disciple would be initiated in the great alternative of existence, the reality of the Spirit. So it was important that the teacher is a fully realised master

 

Nowadays Yoga in the west became popular through asana practice

We are here to learn how to teach hatha yoga (asana, pranayam, mudra, bandha, kriya), so but most of all we remain students (with our own personal teacher/guru)

 

Gu = shadows

Ru = he who disperses them

 

 

“The syllable gu means shadows

The syllable ru, he who disperses them,

Because of the power to disperse darkness the guru is thus named

 

– Advayataraka Upanishad 14-18 verse 5″

 

 

Conclusion: so although we teach we remain students! BE AUTHENTIC

Nevertheless people come to your classes to learn something and regard you as a teacher

Why do people come to a class? Because of you, because of your unique message/style

There’s many teachers out there and you need to find your unique teaching style/be authentic

Preparation

Teaching yoga requires you as a teacher first of all to be present and available. Put aside your own ego and your insecurities as they will only draw your attention away from your students. It is recommendable to always arrive 10-15 minutes early at a class so you can prepare the space, set up the music, decide how you like the mats to be places and talk to students. Especially take time to talking to new students and inquire whether they have practiced yoga and/or meditation before. If they have any injuries, if yes: what kind, how long time ago, how does it limit them, etc. Ask women if they are pregnant or if they are menstruating. In this time you can give students individual recommendations and instructions.

In order to prepare your class keep the following in mind:

  • - Time of the day
  • - Type of venue (gym, yoga studio, park, office, etc.)
  • - Duration of the class
  • - Students (experience, age, gender, mind set)
  • - Expectation of the students

Tools of Teaching

There are so-called four ‘Tools of Teaching’:

  1. Instructions

As a yoga teacher verbal instructions is the most obvious way of guiding your students throughout the class. An asana class requires a lot of verbal instructions and depending on your style more details (e.g. Iyengar style or therapeutical). Here are some general tips regarding instructing:

– Voice: loud but soft and melodious

– Articulate properly

– Talk slowly

– Use different intonations

– Watch students while you explain

– Be aware of instructing while you are demonstrating

– Use short sentences

– Give suggestions for inhalations and exhalations, especially for Vinyasa Flow classes

– Don’t confuse yourself and the class while using the English and Sanskrit asana names: use them if you know them only

 

– Integrate indications, benefits, contra-indications

– Don’t give too much pointers in each pose

– If you talk about alignment in the asana: start from the feet and work your way up

– Give instructions to one person, or maybe to the group as a whole

– Choose your focus (depending on the focus of the class): alignment, flow, awareness, or…

– Suggestions for beginners: 1. give options, 2. make the class rather more easy than difficult, 3. Slow down the class as that makes it less confusing for beginners and in the same time it is a challenge for advanced students

 

  1. Demonstration

As a beginning teacher demonstrating happens kind of naturally without thinking about it, because it is easier if you are in the pose yourself, so you know what to demonstrate. However we highly recommend you not to fall into the ‘trap’ of demonstrating too much. Demonstrating while teaching prevents you from walking around and being available for the class and students. If you are demonstrating you cant properly observe what is going on, you cant adequately adjust your students. So use demonstrations scarcely and think twice if you decide to demonstrate. Remember most of all this class you are teaching and it is not your own asana class, don’t regard this as your own practice!

– take care of yourself while you demonstrate (period/not warmed up/not one side all the time)

– demonstrate if you know the pose properly

 

– mirror (especially in twists)

– thkink about your angle of demonstration: from the front/the side/facing students

– if you are not warmed up or you cannot come into the pose: ask an (advanced) student to demonstrate the pose. This is nice for the student and it makes your hands free to do and point out properly what you want

 

  1. Adjustments

– If you adjust, adjust

Be firm but with a loving touch

Put awareness in your adjustment, don’t just run from one to the next student

Stay with the student for a little bit after/during the adjustment to see if it worked

Check with the student if the adjustment is ok, you can look at the students face (a grim will tell you its enough), or ask simply : “is it ok” or ‘Tell me when to stop” etc. This makes a nice connection also between you and the student

– Many beginning teachers feel insecure about adjusting. We advise you to start practicing giving adjustments on friends but especially other teachers

– Start from the feet and work your way up

– before giving an adjustment look properly at the student

 

  1. Observation

– What to look at?

– What is the purpose of the pose

– Observing is good anyway

– Look at the students face’

– Look at the breath

– Use what you see, respond to what you see

 

Qualities of a Yoga Teacher

  1. 1.            Consistent practice – at least once a day
  2. 2.            Flexible body & Flexible mind – flexibility not in the body only, but in the ind also: there is no diision between body and mind only to understand we divide up the body from the mind
  3. 3.            Leave your ego at the doorstep with your shoes
  4. 4.            Be authentic
  5. 5.            Always carry beautiful music with you – music that relaxes that mind. And with music we also mean your voice
  6. 6.            Clear instructions with loud and soft voice
  7. 7.            Be relaxed presence: if you are relaxe in your presence ou are relaxed in your words/instructions an dpoise. Aim of yoga is to be relaxed and have a relaxed body
  8. 8.            Adjustments with love – don’t push and only support where they are comfortable. Slowness and softnes are the secret to attain anything in this world
  9. 9.            Ability to connect
  10. 10.         Approach and relate to your students with patience and compassion

DwiPada Viparita Dandasna

Garudasana

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Gratefulness diary

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We all have one of those days: its hard to get up. The blankets feel so heavy, your body even more heavy and your mind is cloudy. Everything seems gray and not really worth while. Your work seems irrelevant to you and it feels as if the whole world is conspiring against you, blocking you from an easy light and happy life. Yeps, you are having a little depression.

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Many ways to deal with this. You can just drag yourself throughout the day,waiting it to pass by, you might dig yourself deeper into your blankets and just watch some movies. Maybe you call your best friend to share your sorrow.

Or… you might want to take things in your own hand and decide to make this day as much a beautiful day as others, even though the start wasn’t as shining and stunning as others.

What helps on those days is to get your body moving, to make the blood circulate and ‘the energy’ flowing. ROlling back your shoulders, opening your chest, jumping little up and down can make a surprising change to your mood.

Another thing that does magic is reading through your Gratefulness Diary. This requires some prior work though. THis is a little book in which you write five things that you are grateful for that day.

Now the trick is that you write down five new things every day, and this is where the magic happens. It is easy to repeat kind of obvious reasons to be happy for but if you have to come up with five new things every day it is amazing how subtle and beautiful events come to your mind. It helps you first of all on that very day to look back with a positive mind and this diary helps you appreciating what you have and what beauty the world has to offer you on days that your mind is a little cloudy.

 

Cherish difficult situations like a sharp knife

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One teacher helped me a great deal with comparing pain and difficult situations with a knife, a knife that is pointing at your chest and about to enter. Naturally you are afraid of the knife and you would want to back up, move away. However he advised to instead gently lean into the knife. Don’t run away but see how sharp it is, what exactly is going on, to investigate it. Now this might sound funny but try to move and lean into the sharp knife with kindness: try to look at to your own emotions and your own pain with kindness.

Merel-doing-her-practice

 

Don’t blame those feelings, don’t blame the difficult situation, instead try to see how and what it is trying to teach you. It doesn’t mean that you have to be kind in the sense of pleasing yourself and getting comfortable with the pain and the difficult situation. It is kindness in the sense of accepting the knife (aka pain) so that you can look at them, recognise them and change them.

Understand that you can move away from the knife, avoid the situation, repress it, don’t talk about it, don’t look at it. But that knife will remain there and move closer and closer and it will continue haunting you unless you face it. Kindness is moving into the pain, into the knife, to learn from it, and gaining clarity to overcome it completely once and for all instead of letting it fester due to fear and lack of examination..

 

Merel Martens