Pamela Seelig

Author of Threads of Yoga

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Why Risk Getting Deep With Your Yoga Class?

Introducing a theme such as “Surrender” or “Opening the Heart” can create a beautiful and expansive class experience.  However, initially you may feel resistance from students as many yogis, especially beginners, come to class for the physical workout and have no interest in yoga wisdom or introspection.  Discussing a yama or asking a class to sit and focus on the breath can be torturous for some students, even if it’s only for a minute.  Weaving yogic insights throughout class without sounding cheesy or, even worse, preachy is also not easy to do.  As teachers, we may question whether or not to take the time and risk diving deeper into philosophy. The vast majority of teachers choose the simpler route and barely mention the deeper wisdom teachings of yoga.

But sharing this information is crucial, and possibly the reason you became a yoga instructor.  As a student you probably had a teacher that went there, imparting ideas that were just what you needed to hear at just the right time.  Such words serve as a balm to soothe the stressed-out soul, something that is so very needed in the world today.   But as a working yoga teacher, you see the reality:  it is very challenging to offer a solid class each week with interesting sequencing, great music, and an awesome relaxation, let alone weaving in profound ancient wisdom!  Yoga teacher trainings typically do not address this aspect of teaching a class and instead focus on the physical component of yoga.  The individual teacher is then left to work out subtler aspects of the class on her own.

As an instructor for more than a decade, I strived to bring the profound teachings of yoga into class, but initially wasn’t quite sure how. Sometimes I brimmed with inspiration, but other times, especially when life was busy, I would skip over the deeper and more esoteric topics, what I considered “the good stuff.”  Even though I was deeply interested in this subject matter and loved the study of yoga philosophy, bringing such topics into a class setting tested my abilities.  There were many awkward and clumsy attempts, but eventually sharing such information became more natural (although I did receive my share of eye rolls!).  Over time students let me know that they too were interested and inspired by this information.  And those who resisted surprisingly often became the most enthusiastic and dedicated students.

In my next blog, I’ll offer ideas and advice on how to bring this essential wisdom to your students in ways that enhance the overall class experience.  We’ll discuss the core and fundamental themes that, although basic, are incredibly timeless and profound.  Thanks for reading and stay tuned!