Chatting with Yogacharya Bharath Shetty yesterday about the future plans for Indea Yoga and expanding the community of teachers, a really interesting thought occurred to me. (In fact, there are often many interesting thoughts after speaking with this man, but this is one I thought was quite significant which I wanted to share). We were talking about how to encourage existing and future teachers of the school to continue their practical training with Sir, annually for example, to deepen their skills not only as teachers but also as practitioners. We talked about common attitudes of acquiring a TTC certification whereby often teachers are preoccupied with getting the badge rather than becoming a quality teacher. There is an assumption the TTC is the only training required and it could be considered as a pass to no longer continue self practice.
Whilst I fully appreciate certifications are symbolic of hard work, what I’ve come to realize are two fundamentally important things:
1) Having a certification (or multiple) does not necessarily make yoga teachers good practitioners
2) Likewise, these certifications do not necessarily make one a good teacher overall
You see, when I completed my TTC, I was so preoccupied with getting the badge to flash that I’d completed my 250 hours, my 500 hours etc etc. But once I was out in the real world and began running my own classes, I was rudely awakened to the fact that my certifications did not necessarily translate into “you’re a great teacher Jessica.” My first class was a total flop! I’ll never forget it! Turns out, I can have every certification under the sun but without maintaining my self practice and combining this with experience leading classes, my popularity as a teacher was not going to increase!
In my opinion, to become a great teacher (and by no means am I professing to be a great teacher – this is a life long commitment) takes just 2 simple but crucial things:
1) A desire to teach. Without this, the students will never connect with their teacher nor will the teacher connect with their students. Teachers need to enjoy what their doing. Only then will they give it their all and ensure their intentions for the class are pure and for the benefit of the student.
2) A desire for self-improvement – as both a teacher and practitioner. Personally, I return to India for my self practice because my teacher is there. Because he can help to expand my knowledge as a teacher and practitioner. He can show me areas where I have become lazy, challenge me to reach new heights and guide me when it comes to safely correcting and supporting my students.
I do not believe I can be a great teacher if I fail to maintain my self-practice and self-study. I need to push my personal boundaries to ensure I’m not just a theoretical teacher who has studied the texts well, but that I am also one who is teaching from personal experience. From having experienced how an asana feels, the challenges we go through when trying to master an asana and the effects it has on the body. My brand, Naked Yoga (naked-yoga.com.au), came about because I deliberately place myself in vulnerable, challenging and often uncomfortable siutations as I know this is where I find my best self. This is how and when I grow – personally and professionally. To train under the guidance of Gurji forces me to reach new peaks and explore new depths. The experience is always confronting, emotional and down right hard - but I know it’s what makes me a better student, practitioner, teacher and human being in general. This is why I come. This is what it’s all about.
You see, whilst I may have certifications to teach, I consider I will always be the student, for I will never stop learning, growing and trying new things. From the moment I was certified, I considered it my responsibility to keep learning as I know it is only in doing so that maybe one day I could be the great teacher I aspire to be. If you ask me, my TTC was only the door to becoming a teacher – but it certainly didn’t mean I was a teacher. With patience, passion and commitment, slowly, this is coming. And I hope it is coming for you also.
Sending huge hugs and love,