Teaching the Spiritual Essence of Yoga with Integrity
It is often only when we teach yoga that we begin to learn what yoga truly is. This is because it is in the context of teaching that we are forced to examine our understanding of yoga critically, and to witness to what extent we embody and communicate this understanding.
Yoga can support the whole being if the student is open to the process. How open a student is often depends not only on how we teach technique, but on how we present our understanding. How we demonstrate essence and spirit in our teaching depends on how much we are actually living yoga, how heart-connected we are, and how much depth and wisdom we have developed.
There are many challenges facing us as teachers. How do we infuse a yoga class with depth without using excessive theory, jargon, and Sanskrit terms, which are often meaningless to our students? How can we teach with integrity, without feeling like an impostor, during personally challenging periods of our lives? In meeting these challenges, we must continuously contemplate what yoga and spirituality are for us, and how we gain depth in our own lives. Only then can we teach the rewards of a deeper practice.
What is Spirituality?
From the yogic perspective, we experience the spiritual by cultivating our awareness and taking this awareness deep into the subtle dimensions of our being. Awareness allows us to experience the subtler aspects of life and marks a step on our inner journey toward self-realization. Once we have forged a conscious relationship with that which is beyond the "little" us, then we can bring that connection and understanding into our everyday lives. Only then can we truly permeate our lives and teachings with depth and meaning.
As teachers, we may be asked to give some form of spiritual guidance to our students to support their journey. The aim of yoga teachers should always be to empower our students to find their own way. One of the tools we give them to do this is awareness. Therefore, always direct your students to become more aware and more confident in their own feelings and intuitions.
Gaining Spirit in Ourselves