Wednesday, November 19, 2008

All these years I have been a yoga student. I have been a yoga student in India and learned from various teachers. To begin with I learnt from my maternal aunt who follows the KAIVALYADHAM style and philosophy. I learned from Abhay in Pune who teaches the Iyengar style. In the USA, I have practiced only in health club and lately in a yoga studio where it has been mainly VINYASA flow.
Unconsciously, I have registered the things a really like about all my past and present yoga teachers. I recall how I felt during and after the class with each of these wonderful yogis and yoginis. Thinking about all my yoga teachers from past and present helped me write the paper that was a part of our coursework about qualities of a yoga teacher. I remembered having a lot of fun in Abhay’s classes even though they were challenging. I recall how my aunt is creative in her yoga classes and can just show you number of helpful poses for little aches and pains and discomforts without making one feel like attending a class. It happens so naturally with her as if we are just hanging out together doing our favorite activity. I love the balanced feeling after Jasmin’s class; totally adore Mary’s creative sequences. Love how Sloan has themes for each of her class. Ricky says some wonderful things about yoga as a philosophy which we can ponder upon. At times though his classes seem a little too yang for me, very cool and impressive performance but totally unattainable in this lifetime! At the health club, I like Adriana for her quality of demonstrating how to do the posture and also demonstrating how not to do it. Dawn had nice easy going class, she used to bring her lesson plan written on a piece of paper and referred to it once in a while during class but that did not seem to me like she was novice and didn’t know what to do next. I could still feel the warmth and dedication in her teaching. Amy had wonderful poses for us to practice but she always seemed a little distant and indifferent, a little unapproachable to me.
The important thing is that being a student will teach me how to be a good teacher.
I did conduct a KARMA class on Sunday morning at my place. Initially 7 of my wonderful friends were keen on taking the class but finally 3 attended it which included my dear husband. I included sun salutations (traditional, A and B). Taught them warrior poses. I also included a lot of hip opening postures I went little over an hour, forgot to play the music. But, hey, it’s allowed. I am just beginner right now. I will get it eventually I am pretty sure. I got some wonderful feedback from my friends. I am listing the feedback as well as my reflections after the class.
1. A teacher should set expectation at the beginning of the class
2. A demonstration by the teacher with students just watching and not doing helps
3. A teacher should tell the benefits of the pose they are teaching (what’s in it for me).
4. Assisting them physically is helpful as they may not ever get it right by listening or watching the teacher. (I got a pat on my back for this one)
5. Selection of poses should be level appropriate so that students get a sense of achievement and not get totally discouraged.
6. A teacher should suggest modifications to all poses to make it easier or harder.
7. Not everyone knows the muscle names so instead of telling muscle names teachers could simply name the body parts eg. Front/back thigh muscles, neck muscles. Saying muscle names and synovial fluid function may impress some students about teachers’ knowledge but some may think of it as just showing off.

From a student’s perspective, I believe it is most important to figure out if the teacher genuinely wants to teach in order to share his/her knowledge and/or passion. If you are honest, hardworking, compassionate and dedicated, it will come across without you having to make any effort.
In the end, only growing or decreasing number of students will tell you if you are a good teacher or not.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Right after the Nutrition focused week at training, we started with Diwali(The festival of lights) celebrations at home.
No prize for guessing that my resolution to cook and eat only healthy food went down the drain.
I made "Besan ladoos"(gram flour, sugar and clarified butter) and they turned out well. My little ones too ate and appreciated them.
Otherwise it is really annoying when I make some desi goodies and my daughters just refuse to even taste.
MIL made chivda which was nice too. Diwali was during the weekdays so we all had to rush through the celebrations and rituals in the morning.
I still have some issues I need to work on regarding embracing my husband's family rituals as my own. It tells me that my heart isn't open wide.
Surprisingly this week at the yoga training we studied the seven chakras in our body and had to take a chakra test to determine which ones are underactive or overactive.
Even before taking the chakra test, I knew what the likely outcome was. It's just that I need to open my heart towards some people in my personal life. I guess my answers to the chakra test were based on my behavior with some close family members that I do not very well get along with. I have a feeling that I am open, frank and embracing in the outside world but I need to cultivate that in my personal life. I need to learn to get along with everyone.
For those of you interested in taking the test click the link
After we studied the 7 chakras, Sloan taught a intense Chakra class. She incorporated all the poses to open all the chakras starting at the root chakra.
She caught us by surprise when she made each one of us get in the front and teach and talk about a chakra. I was the first person and hence I covered the “mooladhar (root) chakra”. I just had the rest of the group practice tree pose on both sides and the “moola bandha” (root lock). I hope it went alright.
On Sunday, we focused on eastern and western anatomy. I know I do not have any trouble with the Sanskrit names but boy will I have trouble saying the names of all the muscles and bones and joints!
Sloan also went over assisting students in different postures. We are going to have to assist either Jasmin or Sloan for 7 hours. I did my first assist with Jasmin who herself does not touch or assist much during the class. She focuses more on just demonstrating which is cool. After I got over my initial nervousness, it went smoothly and I also got a positive feedback from a yogini in the class which is encouraging.
Coming back to Diwali celebrations, we had a rocking Diwlai party at a friends place. Everyone got a yummy dish and some sparklers for the kids. We all got an opportunity to show off our fancy Indian attire. I chose to wear the green saree to open that heart of mine :)
Now that my in-laws have gone back, I have to run my own house after a long gap!
Not to mention all the homework that has piled up. How can I afford to spend so many hours blogging and reading my favorite blogs? So bye bye, until next time!