As yoga teachers, we have the opportunity to create a safe, sacred space in which students can explore movement and self-inquiry. As a fairly new teacher, I’ve been inspired by watching other teachers make efforts to create and sustain the sanctity of a space before, during, and after class. They do this in different ways, of course, and I’d like to share some of the approaches that have become the most meaningful to me, both as a teacher and a student.
– Get in touch with your own practice. Move through the asana sequence you put together for class to feel how it prepares the body for movement. Teachers I consider to be the most articulate can explain transitions in detail because they just recently experienced it themselves. Also, consider sitting in meditation or quiet reflection to get a clearer sense of your current state of mind. This awareness will help you understand the energy that you’re bringing into the room.
– Reverence. Spend a few quiet moments at the altar. I enjoy watching my teachers sit near the altar before class, even if they’re only there for a moment to gaze at the offerings or light candles. If there’s no altar, spend time at the front of the room where you will take the seat of the teacher. Reflect on your teachers, the opportunity that you have to pass on these teachings, and invoke the strength, elegance and composure that will help you to be a more effective transmitter.
– Neat and tidy. One of my teachers has a lovely saying: “Make it nice.” Arrange blankets and stack the blocks in an organized way. This encourages students to respect the space and honor it as something to be kept orderly and uncluttered.
– Slow and steady. Encourage students to move slowly and take their time leaving the space.
– Pay it forward. Tidy up the blankets and blocks. Make it nice for the next teacher and class.
– Stay connected. Take a few minutes after class to be with students and answer any questions they may have. One of my teachers often sits at the front of the room after class with a small circle of students around her, discussing the practice or just catching up. It sets a sweet example for how students can remain connected to themselves and the teachings, especially after they practice.