I’ve seen a few times a quote regarding the instruction of yoga, and it states that “the best teachers lead you back to yourself.” I think about that a lot as I’m planning sequences, and as I’m gliding about the room during classes. My role as a teacher is to keep people safe, and to guide them through a thoughtful sequence, but ultimately, I hope to empower students to take charge of their own experience on the mat. I hope the yogis who practice with me find the space to be aware of their breath and their bodies, to feel that the area they occupy on their mats is their own, and―for at least a few moments―be fully present, distracted neither by thoughts of the past or the future.
Earlier in the month, I was practicing with one of the senior teachers at my home studio of O2 Yoga. Elliott was leading the class through a lot of work for the shoulders and core to prepare us for a variation of forearm stand (pincha mayurasana) with split legs and bent knees. (This is sometimes called “stag legs” and Elizabeth Wilson demos this nicely on her blog.) He came over to my mat when it was time to kick up into the posture, and gently let me know he was prepared to catch and support me if I was interested in attempting this advanced inversion. I kicked up, found the posture with my own strength and balance, and was both surprised and delighted to be floating on my forearms for a bit. As I came back down, Elliott was still near, making sure my exit was safe and controlled. He patted my shoulder and said, “You didn’t even need me. You could do it by yourself all along.”
That affirmation really touched me. It touches me still as I type this up. Elliott, as teacher, provided me, as student, the encouragement, knowledge, and guidance to find an asana under my own power. He mostly took himself out of the equation so that I could grow and shine. This is what I want to do for my students, too. And sometimes, I think I do.
November by the numbers:
- 39 classes
- 322 students
- 41+ hours
- 7 locations
A little student feedback, forever sweet and a little silly:
- These classes are literally the highlight of my week. They’ve been extremely helpful.
- I’m so incredibly grateful you’re here.
- I really like the way you teach. I’ve never done these long sequences before. I can’t go into autopilot. If forces me to stay in the moment.
- Class was really nice. I just wanted to say that.
- Yoga was transcendent today. I just felt beautiful and weightless and like every sequence was so natural. Like “oh, of course that’s what I’m doing with my body next, what else would I do.” I conclude that you are a witch.