I still remember that moment I bounced out of my 200 hour teacher training – a heart full of desire to share my passion with the world, but gripped in the hands of trepidation that the responsibility to teach this stuff brings! I actually felt less prepared to be a teacher than when I first began my training. I was now acutely aware of how vast this subject was, and the huge sense of responsibility I felt about working with students’ bodies and emotional wellbeing. YIKES!
And so, I did what any good yoga student would do, I started ANOTHER teacher training course! The content may have been very similar, but at a whopping 500 hour, surely this was guaranteed to make me a better teacher right? Hmmm… if only it were that simple. Roll forward a few years and add a ‘buffet-style’ of Intensives and CPDs, and you’ll find a girl who was on a mission to study the ‘right’ course with the ‘right’ teacher to be the best teacher she could possibly be. Sound familiar?
It’s a given that ongoing study is essential for any teacher who is passionate and dedicated. But continuing to develop as a teacher is no walk in the park. The money, time and energy we invest can be immense, and with a plethora of training out there, it’s easy to get caught up in bouncing from one yoga rock-star to the next – going with what’s #trending at the time, rather than having any clear path of development.
In the yoga-world we talk about being on a journey (like, a LOT!). And yet, so often as teachers, we forget that our teaching is also our own spiritual expedition. Whether we’re consciously choosing the direction of that adventure or not is perhaps worth pondering.
Robert Half famously said “asking the right question takes as much skill as having the right answer”. So instead of asking “What should I do next?” try reflecting on a personally focused array of questions – “Who am I as a Teacher? How do I want to grow? What lights me up? What am I here to give?” Clarity on questions like this will eventually show up the right path for each of us, and help us choose the studies, practices and tribes that will help us grow along that path.
This search inward is as old as yoga itself. If we look to The Bhagavad Gita, we see Krishna explaining to Arjuna that there are different paths (margas) of yoga – different ways to connect with the truth of our divine nature. And whilst these paths are all interconnected, choosing the one that is most aligned with our temperament and personality will make the journey a little less rocky.
So before jumping on to the course-junky bandwagon, take some time to pause and reflect on your journey so far, and ask yourself where your next step will take you – what is your calling NOW? When we are truly listening and acting on our calling, we tap into a very real and authentic power… a power that can be used to do great and wonderful things. As well as serving us, using this power is also something we should be teaching!
Our planet doesn’t need more people who can simply bend quite well; it’s desperate for people who are authentic and honest. Listen to your heart, and confidently move in the direction that will allow you to rock in this life and as a teacher. Study with great teachers who you truly resonate with and assimilate what you learn in your own practice. Above all, be a student of yoga, and trust these tools will evolve both yourself and others.
Right now my journey is calling for me to be a keen student and teacher of philosophy. I devour books at a ridiculous rate and attend talks, seminars and discussion groups with people and teachers who inspire me. I then use asana, meditation, mentoring, writing and my studio space as the tools to teach this and to serve others. It’s a path that is evolving organically but consciously, and my journey is all the more enjoyable because of it.
Where are you right now on your teaching journey? What is your heart calling for? Allow yourself to choose your path of yoga in a way that is honest, authentic and compassionate. Don't miss a single opportunity to create a richer and more meaningful teaching experience for yourself. You’ll love it, and the people you teach will love it too.
Deborah Berryman is a typically flawed human being, seeker, yoga teacher, writer, mentor and coach. She’s the owner of Whitespace Yoga Studio in Milton Keynes and is unashamedly obsessed with the big questions, life and chocolate!
This article has been taken from the 1st issue of Amrita Yoga Magazine released in 2015. If you are interested in buying this magazine, you can do so from here!