I try to practice what I preach …… when I train new yoga instructors I do my best to instill in them a strong desire to keep learning. In the case of a yoga instructor this includes getting on your mat daily. This may seem daunting but I consider it my duty – if I’m not practicing and experiencing in my body how can I instruct others.
Another key element is continued skill enhancement for personal growth, both as a practitioner but essential in practice also. These two tenets dovetail nicely.
The interplay of student/teacher is a very interesting one. I learn so much from my students and in that way they are my teachers even though in the situation I may be the one instructing. But I also love to be a student…..enter a classroom with my notepad and be open to refining skills, learning new ones and deepening my knowledge in some capacity.
Most recently I participated in two different trainings and so my mind is reeling with possibilities – for myself which of course will extend to my students. My mantra is, “you can be too flexible but not too strong”. The first 5 day training was about strength – building functional joint strength in all ranges of movement. Talk about moving outside of my familiar comfort zone – hanging from bars! Focusing on the correct shoulder blade action to go from hanging to actually moving along the monkey bars. Talk about something to work on!! This training was fun and mind blowing thanks to two talented instructors that have taken their yoga background into different directions.
As I experiment with my own body and practice ways to strengthen my weak areas, I will be incorporating this to work into my yoga classes – at least to the degree possible without having weights at hand. Amazing how much one can do with just the body weight and appropriate resistance.
The other training was a more familiar type and challenged me different ways. I am always excited to learn from those that have great depth of experience and able to pass it on in an interesting and useful manner. Thus were my 15 hrs with master yoga instructor, Maty Ezraty, who comes with 30 years of experience and is a dynamo in action. She was one of the first ‘guest instructors’ I was introduced to about 20 years ago and she continues to inspire and motivate.
Working on foundational elements for arms and upper body, holding for extended periods of time with every body cell engaged took concentration and effort. Here Maty is helping a student find the upper body work in upward dog and using props to help wake the inner line of the body – a weak link in many our bodies!
A few years ago as I was laying my mat down at the yoga studio, a student said to me, “oh, you are practicing”. I found this to be a very interesting comment – why wouldn’t I practice. In fact I love to practice amongst my students. Not only is it a good way to walk my talk but also to let students see my own strengths and weaknesses. See that my poses are not perfect – they are all in a work in progress.
And thus was the case for my latest training. Shown here is the amazing instructor Maty, a fellow instructor Svitlana and a student, Lila. Lila has a strong running background and was introduced to yoga years ago through my yoga for runners classes. It took her some time to ‘like’ yoga but she knew it was good for her and helped keep her running. In the past few months Lila has experienced an epiphany and is in what she calls….’yoga heaven’. Practicing pretty much daily has kept her running stronger than ever. It was such a joy to practice beside her, be charmed and ignited by Maty the way I had been years ago…….and continue to be today.
Love what you do ……… and never stop learning!