Archives for posts with tag: teacher

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A new year is upon us, and as with most people, I am prompted to look back and reflect on the year that has passed. For me, 2013 represented a whole new beginning in life. A chapter that has changed my perspective dramatically and shifted my goals to match. Becoming a mother was much more than a simple addition to the family, it was a beautiful awakening to a slower paced and more simple life.

As I look back on this amazing year, a few important events stick out to me. The first, of course, being the birth of Charlotte. She has altered the way I view life. More specifically, the way I perceive time. I am more patient than I ever thought I could be. You see, each day I have the rare opportunity to watch someone discover, explore and experience things for the very first time. From watching how our shadows glisten against a snow bank to laughing as we play peek-a-boo for the thirtieth time in a row, my days are filled with such wonder that I choose to consider every moment precious. Because I cannot get this time back, so I best use it as wisely as possible.

With that shift in my perception came the second big event, or change I should say, I simply care a lot less about being “somebody”. I had this notion that in order to be successful in my field I had to be well known, have countless followers on various social media sites and be working towards pseudo-celebrity status. Well let me tell you! That just seems like a lot of effort and time to put towards my ego. Time better spent make sheet forts and funny faces in the mirror with my little ball of snuggles. When I really examined why I wanted these things it was because that’s how I had come to classify success. But what is success to me? What is my personal end game? I want to be well respected in my field. I want to be considered an expert at what I do. And though it may seem like it at first, the instagram gurus and teachers with tens of thousands of facebook fans are not necessarily more of an expert… they just have a great marketing team!

I also had the revelation to stop pursuing goals that are important to other people and not exactly important to me. It is sometimes hard to carve a place for yourself in an industry full of so many talented yoga teachers. And every now and again you get wrapped up in a conversation, drop an idea, and get the encouraging jeers from the people around you to make that your new life’s purpose. What… wait… how did that happen!?! Luckily I learned to forgive myself long ago for changing my mind, so a simple shift in focus is no big thing for this coming year.

The plan for the next 365 days? Focus and continue to grow in the direction that suits my purpose. Learn more, read more, do more. My focus is to be the best version of my true self, a mother, a wife and a yogi.

As far as my shift in career focus. I am choosing to spend more time on my knowledge and approach to helping my students and less time on pushing myself to be a “popular teacher”. I have already made the shift in my classes and it feels glorious. I am back to my roots again, teaching a more authentic version of yoga (to me anyways), and most importantly, I’m not apologizing for it. I am pushing my students away from their purely western comfort zones and infusing a little more tradition into their lives. It makes me feel the way I did when I first began my journey as a teacher… like I could actually instill some sort of inspiration and change to the world around me. If this makes me slightly less popular for the time being, I’m happy to bare that cross. I think in the long run the people who come to yoga for more of a connection than a work out will find their way to my classes. The universe always matches energy (you get what you give).

This year promises to be rather entertaining on all fronts and I am looking forward to embracing all that it has in store….. oh, and  I’m going to give this whole blog thing another go…. hopefully I can stay committed this time around.

Teachers can never stop learning. No matter how much you think you know, it’s not everything.

When I first started teaching yoga I felt like a sponge. I wanted to learn everything I could so that I could impart all that knowledge on my soon to be students. What I quickly discovered was not all teachers have this same attitude.

I recently read an article stating the five least desirable attributes in a yoga teacher (which can be found here: http://blogs.yogajournal.com/goodlife/archives/2013/02/5-signs-of-a-bad-yoga-teacher.html). I have met teachers that fall into each one of these categories, at times even a few of them at once. But like the article says, most teachers do what they do with the best of intentions. Some just get a little lost along the way.

My purpose today is not to list all of the good or bad characteristics I find important in yoga teachers, it is instead to make a case for the idea of eternal learning. You must continue to grow, in some way. If you choose to live your life devoted to teaching (whatever the subject may be), you must also be prepared to learn for the rest of your days.

Why?

Teachers have this unique ability to attract students who have a similar thirst for knowledge as the teacher them-self has. I myself find my students are curious. And thank goodness! I always get questions after class that range from posture modifications to philosophical connections and everything in between. I live for questions. It’s truthfully one of the best parts of my job because it tells me that that particular student is ready to learn more.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t always have the answers. And not knowing the answer to a students question is a humbling and delightful experience. Let me explain. When I was a new teacher I felt like if I didn’t know something I was somehow failing that student. As I began to grow in my position and confidence I quickly realized that I’m too young to know the answer to every single question. There’s just not enough time in the day to learn it all! The teachers that I had in the past that seemed to answer everything (be that answer right or wrong) began to look less genuine to me. I didn’t want to be someone that students couldn’t trust to answer honestly. So when faced with a question I didn’t know, instead of taking an educated guess, I would simply say I wasn’t sure. And then suggest a good resource to find that answer. The important part of that lesson was what I did afterwards. I would go home a learn about it.

The beauty of having students that are thirsty for knowledge is that it constantly pushes me to dive deeper into my own education. It’s this wonderful continuous cycle. I love to pass all I know on in my classes, and that in turn sparks interest in certain students, which again begins the conversations that promote growth through mutual curiosity.

The people who know me best always say that I am a sponge of a brain. I tend to retain most of which I learn. From the outside it seems as though I have a collection of surprisingly random facts floating around in my head, and while mostly true, they have all served a purpose at one point or another. And besides, who doesn’t love dazzling their friends at a dinner party with a particularly wide grasp on the life and anthropological history of squirrels (for example).

I will always learn, so that I can continue to grow. When given the choice to be good or great, who wouldn’t choose great? Take five minutes each day and learn a new fact… Anything! You’d be surprised how much more exciting life can be if you just begin to broaden your horizons.

One of my focuses the past little while has been to create a stronger community for yoga teachers here in Calgary. This is one of those cities where you can’t throw a stone without hitting a yoga teacher. There are far more teachers than there is work, and countless training programs that keep churning out aspiring and wide eyed teachers full of potential, but with no where to go.

I started by creating a simple facebook group devoted to yoga teachers. In the past few months it has grown to over 450 members and counting. That’s a lot of teachers. Now the group has it’s ups and downs. We are constantly battling to keep self promotion off the page, and really keep it to what matters to teachers. Helping each other find subs, asking questions and opinions about everything from postures to insurance.

It’s nice to have a place to connect. Somewhere to reach out and know that the people to whom you’re reaching are in a very similar position to you. There’s different backgrounds and levels of experience in the group, so between us all, most every question can be answered.

I’m happy to take this small step in growing the community and trying to unite it’s many members. But for me, it’s not enough. I have only scratched the surface.

Tonight was a wonderful example of what needs to take place more often in our fair city. There was an event. An actual real life event where people meet and mingle face to face rather than through an online profile. Hosted by lululemon, approximately fifty yoga teachers, store ambassadors and lemons got together to practice yoga and then have a little wine and cheese. 

The energy in the room was fantastic. Everyone was happy to be there and excited to meet people from within the community. I truly think there needs to be more of these, in some capacity. Having a community helps us all grow. We learn from each others strengths and weaknesses, and build on communal experience.

The sum of it’s parts and all that stuff.

So what’s next? How can I make this happen? I’m taking the next step by organizing a get together for people from the Yoga Teacher facebook group. Put some faces to some profile pictures and make real life, living breathing connections. From there, I’d like to start a monthly practice followed by get-together for teachers. Where we can come to take class from each other, and discuss anything that needs discussion. Having a theme each month, be it anatomy or traditions etc, just a jumping off point. Having a place to come together and learn. There have been countless small groups that have done this throughout the years. I have had the privilege to be a part of many of them. But there needs to be a bigger scope so there can be a wider range of perspectives.

I think it’s an exciting undertaking and something that is necessary for growth in our city.

I can not wait to push the boundaries of what I thought was possible to undertake for just one person. The past few months have shown me that goals, while scary, really do work. I have a whole list of long term goals that have been re-energized with the belief that they are closer than I ever thought them to be. Goals are reachable…. you just have to start reaching.