Asanas – How teaching asanas can make you a better yogi!

Teaching yoga is the same as teaching any physical activity be it any type of dance or fitness. Through my experience as a dance instructor, I came up with a few mindsets that students always have! Student Mindset vs Instructor Mindset: 1) The instructor improves faster What I have learnt and experienced so far cannot be properly spoken or described by words alone. A common mindset that people have is that the student can never be better than the instructor just because he/she is a student; this is what I experienced from being a student myself. However, when I started being an instructor, I began to feel the internal drive pushing me to be the best among everyone because I’m an instructor and I’m supposed to be better than everyone. Instructors are just like every other person in the class, but we seemed to be able to do it better because we do/teach the steps 10 times more than the students and we push ourselves harder than the students.   I will feel improvements myself as I try harder to show them how it is done: I push myself harder because I want them to push themselves harder; I understand a step in great detail as I have to break it down to the finest detail for them. As I guide a class, I also face the challenge of ‘troubleshooting’: why is the student not able to do this step correctly and with ease?  I have to constantly try to figure out what is wrong, struggle to explain the concepts to them in such a way that they understand, and show them why it should not be done this way.    As the errors made by students usually come from a certain mistake in their fundamental basic steps, I come to understand why the basics are important and how it works to help me in executing advanced moves.  In doing so, it reinforces my techniques! 2) The instructor has greater understanding and depth of knowledge As an instructor, I feel I have to be the best and most informed.  As such, I also need to research more and prepare more.  This preparation process improves my understanding of the subject itself. For example, there are so many ways to breakdown or teach a particular step. There is no correct or wrong way. But to teach and explain the step in a way that the student understands at once is not easy and it takes time and experience to build. Therefore, it helped me to think out of the box. At the same time, it has also helped me to be more patient and  I began to appreciate the fundamentals and the importance of basics. 3) The instructor has the right mindset for learning Students can afford to day dream in class but an instructor cannot.  As such, I am ‘forced’ to pay attention on every student not matter how tired I am. I am ‘forced’ to execute a step properly and hold my poise properly.  Because I am under constant scrutiny in class as an instructor – which is nerve wrecking at the beginning – I am ‘forced’ to do all my steps to the best of my ability; I cannot relax and do a sloppy step which ‘forces’ me to adopt the right mindset and attitude to training.  So, I learn faster, with cleaner steps and sharper moves. 4) The instructor learns how to be professional Other than the above few, what I find particularly hard to do is to actually put myself into the public eye and opening myself up to the judgement of others. As a yoga instructor, there are certain traits you need: you need to learn how to be professional and how to carry yourself well in front of your students; you need to figure out how to make them smile when they become nervous; you need to learn how to motivate and praise them; you need to learn how to become a role model; you basically learn how to be a leader to manage and inspire people. As a yoga instructor, I not only learn how to become a better version of myself but also to become a better leader that can inspire others to do things that they previously thought not possible.   Angela Bok (200hr Weekday TTC Sep 2015)