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Climbing out of a Rut

I have been teaching yoga for about 10 years and feel I have sunken into a rut. For example, during meditation, I tend to go through the same five or six relaxation routines. My students love guided imagery, so I manage to soothingly talk them through it every time-but I am so tired of it! What do you suggest to help bring back my enthusiasm?

Read Maty Ezraty's response:

Dear Mary,

This rut you are speaking of is very common among teachers. It is a sign that you should be examining your practice closely, as well as your life and teaching schedule.

As teachers, it is necessary for us to find new ways to teach any given practice. For example, if you are not enthusiastic about the guided meditations, teach them less frequently. This means that you need to go deeper into your own practice and seek new approaches. You can add restorative poses instead of guided meditations, for example.

I am assuming that you are referring to Savasana (Corpse Pose). Here are a few specific ideas:

  1. You can spend more time teaching alignment of the pose. Many students forget to set up the pose properly.
  2. Consider giving a demonstration. You could change the setup for Savasana by using props.
  3. There are some wonderful ways to use blankets in this pose.
  4. Try letting the room experience silence after you set the physical Savasana.
  5. You could use bells to bring your class out of Savasana.

In other words, don't feel like you have to teach the pose the same way all the time, even if your students like it. Be willing to experiment. Change is a useful experience for your students, and taking a chance can help you keep your teaching fresh.

The use of vocabulary and yogic philosophy can also enhance your teaching. There are many ways to alter your descriptions of poses, and many ways to describe yoga philosophy. Listen to yourself teach and make a conscious effort to say things differently. Reading the Yoga Sutra and meditating on its meaning can be inspiring and helpful in bringing spirit into your teaching.

This rut can also stem from your own practice or your everyday life. When my personal practice is feeling old, it can creep into my teaching. If my life is not going well, that too can affect my teaching.

Consider attending some new classes or workshops, particularly with teachers who inspire you. Being in someone else's yoga room can turn up the energy for your own practice. It might also help to read new books on yoga or revisit old favorites, or to get out notes from a particularly good workshop from the past.

I would also encourage you to look closely at your personal practice. If you do not have one, this may be a good time to start. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of practicing on your own. If you already have a personal practice, try adding restoratives, pPranayama, or poses that you usually avoid.

If you have time and can afford it, go on a yoga retreat or sign up for a meditation immersion. As teachers, we must feed our practice by being students.

Last but not least, look at your daily life and teaching schedule to see if it is serving you well. Sometimes it is simply our daily routine that needs to change to make a needed shift in our feelings about life. Look at your workload and your teaching schedule, and make sure you love it. If not, change it. This is a time to get rid of what is not feeding you.

For me, a rut is always a reflection of my practice and my life. When I dig deeper into self-practice and have the courage to shake it up, I find solutions.

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