Staying Fresh


Dean Lerner's reply:

Dear Michael,

It is all too easy to allow our teaching and practice to stagnate or become mechanical. While it is a treat—and important—to take classes for new ideas and experiences, this is not always possible, as you say. One of the keys to inspired teaching must come from our home practice. For our practice to inspire, it must be fresh, alert, and discerning. This in turn brings us understanding and insight, two main ingredients for good teaching. We should approach each day of practice with a fresh, clear, sober mind. Without a doubt, this will produce a spark of inspiration in your teaching.

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Sequencing is very important in our practice and teaching. It is not simply the sequence, but how it is presented that gives our teaching its life. There are many books of sequences that will give you some good ideas. Test them on yourself before presenting them to your students. Sources include Light on Yoga, by B.K.S. Iyengar. At the back of this book are many sequences for practice and for specific conditions. Other excellent sources are Yoga, A Gem for Women, by Geeta Iyengar; Preliminary Course, by Geeta Iyengar; and Yoga, the Path to Holistic Health, by B.K.S. Iyengar. There are many more. By studying and practicing the various sequencings of poses, new depth of experience and understanding will dawn. This will carry into your teaching.

Alternatively, consider taking an in-depth workshop with a senior teacher once or twice a year to inspire and improve your practice and teaching. There are also some good videos that might help. Lastly, some teacher training programs (the Iyengar method, for one) have syllabi that match the level of the teacher. Work with poses from your syllabus, putting them together in logical and creative ways when you teach your classes.

Certified Advanced Iyengar instructor Dean Lerner is co-director of the Center for Well-being in Lemont, Pennsylvania and teaches workshop across the United States. He is a longtime student of B.K.S. Iyengar and served a four-year term as president of the Iyengar National Association of the United States. Known for his ability to teach yoga with clarity and precision, as well as warmth and humor, Dean has conducted teacher training classes at Feathered Pipe Ranch in Montana and other locations.