By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
How can we inspire our students? Did you ever consider how much impact teachers have on the lives of their Yoga students? Years can go by, and you meet an old student at a local market and he or she tells you how much your classes changed his or her life. Within a month, that same student resurfaces in your Yoga class. It does not always happen like this, but a Yoga teacher’s impact on the community has a lasting effect.
“A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.”
Henry Brooks Adams
Yoga has the power to transform lives – mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. While all teachers are role models, few are lucky enough to teach in areas that encompass the wide range of concepts found in Yogic philosophy.
In a society, where material possessions and achievements are sometimes more important than spirituality and compassion, Yogic philosophy is a reminder of what really matters. The Yoga Sutras indicate that the meaning of contentment is “to be just as we are without going to outside things for happiness” – a powerful lesson for any of us.
Yoga teachers face challenges in their efforts to meet the needs of their students. Although Yoga is designed to address the “whole” person, not all students understand or want to pursue every aspect of Yogic teachings. In addition to a variety of intentions and motives, students also run the gamut from practitioners with various years of study, to beginners and to students with special needs.
In spite of these differences, there are several things tha teachers can do to inspire their students:
• Set realistic expectations.
• Do not let your efforts to be a good role model keep you from being authentic.
• Encourage students to find their own spiritual paths by becoming more aware and intuitive.
• Recognize that Yoga students come from various backgrounds and have different aspirations and abilities.
• Make the Yoga studio a sanctuary where students can escape from stress and pressure.
• Get to know your students by name, and try to connect with them on a heart level.
• Discourage interruptions and distractions, such as cell phones or unnecessary conversations.
• Be aware of medical issues and special needs.
• Be willing to adapt exercises, without calling unnecessary attention.
• Remind students that the timetable for progress is unpredictable and sometimes slow.
• Encourage a home practice of pranayama, asana, and meditation.
• Make sure students understand the effects of specific poses and techniques on their physical and mental health.
One of the greatest gifts a Yoga teacher can give to students is the confidence that they have the inner resources needed to cope during hard times, and to respond courageously to change. In today’s emotional climate, that may be the ultimate way to inspire them for life.
© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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