For me, the hardest day of Pete Guinosso’s Lighting the Path teacher training was the final day. On Day 23, I was still a trainee, snuggled cozily into my community of seventeen friends that had become family. And then Day 24 arrived; we had a beautiful ceremony, celebrated with a potluck, and scattered ourselves out into the world.
Most teacher training blogs are about what happens in the training on the days leading up to Day 24.
But what about Day 25?
One day you are a student, the next day a teacher. This is actually when some of the hardest work on the path begins. It is a challenging transition to make post training: from spending hours in a classroom lab experimenting, to finding your own voice in YOUR classroom.
It is easy in the early days to doubt your ability, your qualifications, and that you have anything unique to offer (and those were just some of my stories). It has taken me many years to get comfortable enough to walk into a room, often full of strangers, and teach without being more in my head than I am in my body.
And yet every class I teach, thousands of hours and multiple teacher trainings later, lessons from my days in the Peacock Room at Yoga Tree Telegraph consistently serve me in the classroom.
Mistakes are powerful. Use them.
When I first started teaching, I would mentally judge myself for every mistake made during class – an incorrect cue, a directional mix-up, forgetting a pose. Teaching yoga has taught me the fine art of making a mistake. There is no such thing as a perfect class, much like there is no perfect way to take a pose. My students come to be led by a person, in real time, and that means that they will see many parts of my realness. Yoga is living and evolving, just like each of us.
Feedback is an essential part of the LTP training. It prepared me to look for feedback when my students talk to me or ask me about my class. Many times their questions come from poses that I could cue more clearly or explain better. By using these as learning moments, versus criticism, the next time I teach, it gets better.
Practice what you preach.
This is perhaps the most important tenant of my teaching. I am a student first and foremost. When I take the teacher’s seat in a classroom, I have practiced the sequence on my own body, usually that same day. Teaching is a physical and mental activity that requires preparation and practice in its own right. It can be easy to slip into a habit of skipping personal practice rushing from teaching or managing business items. Great teaching comes from consistent practicing, and it is why LTP includes morning intensives as a required part of the curriculum.
Teach to the students in front of you.
I never quite know who will be sitting in front of me when I teach. Last week I taught a class that included six beginning students lined up next to two very senior teachers. My intention was to provide all of them with a beneficial class for their bodies.
Safe sequencing includes options for injuries, beginners, and students who need down levels and up levels. Good teaching means knowing how to incorporate these as much as possible while keeping the class together. For me, building this skill started with our first public classes as trainees, teaching to parents and coworkers who had never done yoga, alongside our experienced friends and teachers in the same classroom.
Be early to class and stay for questions.
As all LTP graduates know, timeliness is a huge part of Pete’s training. It also makes a huge difference in teaching. Taking the ten minutes before class to be prepared, assist students with props, and ask about names and injuries helps me know my students and teach to their needs. It also helps me establish trust with people that have not yet taken my class. Staying after class gives students a chance to ask questions and voice concerns about what they might have felt in their bodies. It is another vital touchpoint to helping people on their individual paths.
While I am often surprised at how challenging yoga teaching can be, I am as much in awe of how it continues to expand my own practice, my desire to learn, and my love for my students. That sense of wonder is what has kept me on the teaching path, from Day 25 and beyond.
Meet Pete and learn more at our in-studio Info Sessions:
Tuesday, September 13th at 8PM at Yoga Tree Valencia
Wednesday, September 7th at 8PM at Yoga Tree Telegraph
Sunday, September 11th at 11AM at Yoga Tree Telegraph
About the Author: Abbie Dutterer (E-RYT200) is the program director for Pete G Yoga, and a proud alumnus of Lighting the Path’s first graduating class of teachers. She teaches yoga throughout the Bay Area and works closely with Pete on his signature teacher training program. Outside of the studio, she is dedicated to bringing mindful movement to underserved teenagers in the Bay Area. For more about Abbie, visit www.justabbie.com.