In order to write, read. In order to teach, watch.

Flickr/Creative Commons photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/grahamking/.

In yoga teacher training we are learning all the things that you would expect you’d learn in a teacher training specific to yoga. We learn poses, how to cater to all levels, how to modify poses, the different styles of yoga, as well as things like energy fields and chakras and essential oils.

But what was the very first thing I encountered in the very first class I taught?

Oh, there’s someone walking in the door! Oh, I’m so excited! Oh, what do I do now?

Obviously they just walked in the door. I knew how to teach poses and cue music. But what was going to set the stage immediately?

Thankfully I had been attending yoga classes as a student for about 17 years. I quickly thought to myself: “What does Mona do when I come into a room? What does Melanie do?” Every teacher I’ve had greeted me with a big smile, welcomed me into the space, called me by my name. So that’s what I did. I introduced myself, welcomed them into the space, shook their hands, asked their names and mentally noted the names for next time.

You learn by doing, of course. But you also learn by observing.

I tell my writing students that the most important thing they need to do to become better writers is not to write, but to read. Read EVERYTHING. Read every day. Read books, magazines, anthologies, web articles. Read fiction, read poetry, read plays. Listen to podcasts, watch vlogs, watch documentaries. The only way to write a good story is to read or listen to good stories. See how the masters have done it. Identify what you love and work on replicating that.

It struck me over this last teacher training weekend is that in order to become a good yoga teacher, you have to watch other good yoga teachers. What do they do, what do they say? How do they create a welcoming space? How do they cultivate the type of energy that you want to be around?

I try to expose myself to as many good yoga teachers as possible. I have my roster of teachers I enjoy in Mankato. When I travel, I like going to yoga studios. I’m always watching and observing the style of the teacher, noting what I like and don’t like.

Is there someone you consider your yoga teacher mentor, whether you are teaching now or whether you hope to teach someday?

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