Yoga Tree Teacher Training San Francisco
Time keeps on going by in our teacher training, and we are learning mountainsful day by day it seems. We’ve begun a weekly practice of teaching postures and even Sun Salutations to our students, who can be practiced yogis or people brand new to yoga. I just had the interesting and informative experience of trying to teach both of my parents Classical Surya Namaskar, and Surya Namaskar A, as well as Trikonasana and Ardha Chandrasana. I remember Darren once saying, “If you think that you’re enlightened, trying spending some time with your parents.” While I’m far from enlightened, any ideas that I had about teaching asanas certainly were challenged by trying to teach my parents.
The first person I taught was my mother, who is both a dancer and an avid yoga practitioner. I think that I was a bit nervous teaching her because she is so skilled and knowledgable about the body already. But it turned out to work out well, as she had more perception and feedback than I might have gotten otherwise. I noticed myself tripping up slightly in remembering the sequencing for the different Sun Salutations, even though I had been practicing them just before teaching her. I also found that I didn’t have time to say all of the cues that I wanted to. She said that she found a lot of the cues that I had about energetic alignment the most beneficial. She also found that my cues about engaging the abdomen in lifting up into Downward Dog very helpful. She noticed that I kept on forgetting to mention breathing, and that I kept on saying, “You can …” rather than just telling her what to do.
Teaching my father was a completely different experience. He is someone who is very out of touch with his body, and although he plays racket ball occasionally, he hasn’t stretched anything for decades probably. He also has severe knee injuries. Nevertheless, the experience of teaching his was immensely gratifying, for both of us. I found that I really had to explain things more slowly, which helped me be more precise, and attentive to his limitations. Even saying “put your hands to your shins” was confusing for him, but eventually he grew to understand cues better. He was shocked at how difficult things were for him, and he was sweating after just a few minutes of Surya Namaskar. But he was determined to continue. We decided not to try Half Moon, but he was able to go through both Sun Salutations and Triangle pose. I demonstrated a lot for him, which helped, and corrected a lot as well. He said that he was grateful for my being aware to his different limitations, and that my attentiveness enable him to continue. Afterward, he was so intrigued by how much better he felt. We ended up watching different videos on Yoga, and I explained a lot of what I have been learning in class to him. He decided that he wanted to begin taking yoga classes, and that he wanted to think more about his posture while doing day-to-day activities. I had no idea that teaching him would be so impactful!
It was really amazing to experience some of Chrisandra’s and Darren’s teaching play out in a context that I had never imagined them being relevant. I’ve heard some of my classmates articulate similar experiences. We’re all in the process now of forming different study sessions where we can practice teaching each other, which I think will be immensely facilitative in our becoming better at teaching. It’s certainly one thing to practice yoga and to be able to follow instructions, but quite another to know how to instruct a student, whether they are an advanced practitioner or someone brand new to yoga.