Notes from the mat

I tend to like it when lessons from yoga can spill over into my "real" life. This happened yesterday while reading Bringing Yoga to Life, a book that I check out from the library so much that I finally decided to order my own used copy to have. (which by the way, if you haven't checked out Thriftbooks, you must! Love love love.) But anyway, back to what I was saying. I was reading the chapter about your "inner teacher" and had a wonderful insight.

Be the teacher that you want to have.
Would you show up late for class or not at all if you were the instructor? Would you berate your students and insult them if they were not living up to your expectations? Treat yourself as you would expect your teacher to treat you. This is especially important in a home practice. You must almost act as though you have an appointment with a very special student (you).

Well, I must say this lesson was a real eye opener for me. First of all, I am not all that nice to myself in my own head. Clearly that's less than productive. But this lesson was particularly interesting to me as I had just finished a workshop about writing a teaching philosophy. This workshop was for my philosophy as a professor, not a yoga teacher. Nonetheless, all of the things that I find crucial to being an excellent teacher; being a good mentor, enthusiasm for one's subject, expertise, high standards, encouraging critical thinking and independent problem solving - all of these are traits that I can also encourage in myself. I can use this philosophy that I am creating outside of the classroom. Whether it is on my mat, or at my desk. I can treat myself as I would treat my students. I would never want to have an abusive teacher, so why would I be abusive to myself? And by applying this philosophy to myself and my own learning as a student, then I will even more fully begin to embody those traits as a teacher.

This student/teacher dualism is something that I've started to see as a crucial component of higher education. In order to be a great teacher, you must continue to learn. This is also true for a yoga practice. Although, I had never envisioned myself as my own teacher in my yoga practice, I now see that I can be.

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