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I received this note from a student of mine…

I received this heart-warming message by one of my yoga students who is now a yoga teacher and it prompted me to think of the role of the teacher…

One of the greatest compliments you can get as a teacher is seeing your own students succeed and even excel you.

In my teaching vocation, I have had past students come up to me and tell me how much I influenced their lives and how I instilled in them a love of learning that they didn’t have before.

It has been the most heart-warming experience to have had now 25 year old young adults tell me that I influenced them to become a teacher themselves or to follow their dreams.

My first year of teaching was a Grade 5 class. Looking back, I have no idea if I taught them a single thing! I worked my hardest in the first couple of years out of university and being young and inexperienced, I can see so many things I would now do differently.

However, if I asked my students what it was that made a difference to their lives when I taught them, they recall that I made learning fun, interesting and was able to explain things to them in a way they understood. They recall that I was a happy person who spoke to them on their level.

None of them mention the content of what I taught…. But rather the overall experience of how I taught and how I made them feel.

If you recall your own teachers, what is it about them that stands out to you as being good or not so good teachers?

What made a teacher memorable for you?
Perhaps it was their ability to connect with you in some way so that you could achieve these “light-bulb” moments in your learning?

Or was it their sense of humour?

Their ability to tell stories that captured you and helped you engage better in the learning experience?

Regardless of the content or field you are instructing people in – the purpose of teaching is not about delivering content – but rather it is to help people see more clearly, to awaken them, to unveil a sheath of ignorance…

to bring them to a place that is new, different, more enlightened….
To bring them to a new level of understanding of themselves and the world that they didn’t have before.

A teacher is not jealous of her students. But rather she desires to see her students excel beyond her own achievements and capabilities. The greatest gift a teacher can give her students is seeing their gifts and encouraging them to achieve beyond what they could imagine for themselves.

In my yoga teaching experience over the last 10 years, I have students of mine who are now yoga teachers or training to become teachers. It is the greatest gift for me to see these students shine and pass on the teachings of yoga that I was fortunate enough to have received by my teachers.

I am forever grateful for my amazing teachers because I know it has influenced and shaped me as a teacher (and a student) of yoga and of life.

We are all teachers. Every single one of us.

How do you help others around you better understand themselves as they walk on this road with you as a student of life?

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Grace's Blog

Put your hands on me, yogi!

I was updating my First Aid Training yesterday and when it was time to put people in the recovery position, you could see everyone feeling awkward about touching other people and moving their body in the correct position.

I personally didn’t think twice about it as I’m so familiar with being adjusted in different yoga postures as well as touching my students and adjusting them. So the sense of touch is something I do with ease.

As an Ashtangi, touch is part and parcel of the practice. If you want to progress, be prepared to have your teacher shift and assist you to a fuller expression of the pose or assist you to go a little further. A place where you perhaps thought you could never go.

Touch is able to move you emotionally from one place to another too. Have you ever noticed the power of a loved ones touch? It has the ability to shift you from being upset or angry to a calmer place.

This is one thing that I love about the Ashtanga Mysore method (self practice with guidance of a teacher); you are working at your own pace but have the expertise of a teacher to take you from where you are at, to a deeper place.

So many people say to me “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible”. It’s quite interesting how we think we have to already be good at something in order to even give it a first attempt! It’s quite odd really!

Practicing yoga makes you more flexible. That’s why it’s called a practice.

After over 14 years of practice, I still feel like a beginner – why? Because the yoga practice is so deep and we know that we only scratch the surface in one life time!

I practiced this morning with a dear teacher of mine who first adjusted me 14 years ago…. and today when the same hands shifted my body to go deeper in the posture, I was reminded of the importance of touch in the practice.

It also made me realise how touch is lacking in so many yoga classes. I’ve been to many open classes where I am touched perhaps once or not at all. Or the touch is very subtle that I feel it hasn’t shifted me at all.

Also, when you have a regular home self practice for so long, it is touch that I really miss! It’s always a privilege to be adjusted by a teacher.

So teachers, enjoy adjusting your students! Be confident when doing so 🙂

And students, be open to having your body shifted into different shapes.

I love the following peace mantra as it defines what a yoga teacher can help guide her students to:

Asatoma satgamaya
Tamasoma jyotir gamaya
Mrityormaamritam gamaya
Om, shanti shanti shanti

Lead me from the unreal to the real
Lead me from darkness to the light
From the earth to the open skies
Lead from death to eternal life
Om, peace peace peace

~~~~

Does your yoga practice lead you from darkness to light?

Can you identify ways it has helped you through challenges in your life?

Maybe start making some observations around the sense of touch with your loved ones and how it binds you to them.

If you have a yoga practice, how do you feel about being adjusted by your teacher?

Please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Keep up the practice! All is coming 🙂

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Grace's Blog

Who is your Guru?

In the month of July, it is tradition to acknowledge our gurus.  The word ‘guru’ is the Sanskrit term for “teacher”.  ‘Gu’ means darkness, ignorance, that which obscures beauty and truth.  ‘Ru’ means ‘that which removes’.  So guru is interpreted as one who removes ignorance or darkness. 

 In the West, the concept of guru can seem mysterious and difficult to accept.  You may be asking, “How do I find my guru?”.  A guru is a teacher who imparts insights and revelations to you about Yoga.  A guru may also help one to come to know truth.  We are each other’s gurus and you can be your own guru! Traditionally (and still present today), yoga is a tradition that is passed on from guru to student.  In the West we have established teacher training courses and in just a couple months, one can be certified as a yoga teacher! Tradition however saw a much closer relationship between guru and student whereby the student develops a respect and love for the teacher with the same respect and love they have for the Divine.  In this tradition, knowledge is passed on over many many years and it is only after years of dedicated and loyal practice as a student that a guru may bestow the honour of ‘teacher’ to their student. 

 Yoga teachers must uphold the moral and ethical principles of yoga.  Three necessary criteria for a good teacher are:

Lineage: the teacher should have had direct transmission of knowledge from his or her own teachers.  The teacher also should have been blessed to teach by his or her teachers. Practice: the teacher must have a regular daily practice.
Love:
the teacher must love the students so much that he or she is willing to sacrifice anything to serve them.

I often think of my best teachers as being demanding, yet gentle where the asana (posture) practice becomes a mere structure for the real work, which is transformation.  

In my case, I feel blessed to have had extraordinary teachers over the years of my yoga practice and especially blessed for my guru of 9 years, Eileen.    You continue to ‘remove the darkness’ even though my body is far away from you.  I pay homage and respect to all the extraordinary teachers I am blessed to have had and continue to have and I bow in devotion to them and my teachers’ teachers and their teachers… This is my lineage.  To the late Patthabi Jois, Guruji.  You are our Ashtanga father and are greatly missed.  Namaste. 

 “The guru said to the disciple:
You have three jobs.  Your first job is to find me.  Your second is to love me.  Your third is to leave me”  ~Indian Proverb