• Anjali Rao

Much I have to learn, oh Padawan!!

With due apologies to Yoda, all is fair in Yoga and love.

It has taken me a while to acknowledge a truth about myself. That I am a teacher now. That I know enough to call myself a teacher. It could be the culturally embedded notions of what a Yoga teacher or any teacher stands for: a wise one who imparts knowledge after years of rigorous study and discipline, it could be my perfectionist tendency to self critique and introspect on what I don’t know and what I cannot do, it could be a myriad other factors that had stopped me from calling myself a Yoga teacher outright but now that I have taken the exhilarating leap forward into a hitherto unknown realm, here are top three things that I look for in a teacher and what I hope to be when I grow up:

Burn, baby, burn: Asana practice is a combination of physiology, anatomy, kinesiology. A good teacher is one who designs a sequence being aware that with this objective and rather clinical application of information, the asana practice is also a subjective experience for the student. Each student’s practice, experience and body is different and this dance between the subjective and the objective is a beautiful, complex and intricate one. A good teacher knows this dance well, works towards filling gaps of knowledge and has a burning desire to learn more, evolve further and change accordingly. I hope to learn till I die. I hope this fire never burns out.

Take the training wheels off: Just like when I taught my daughter to ride a bicycle, protective at first, but taking off the wheels when she was ready even though there were immediate, unsteady times, some of my favorite teachers have pushed me to a point where I fell, felt unsettled, but in the end learned more than if I were to play it safe and not try something new. I have been trusted to substitute teach for many experienced teachers, often at the last-minute. Butterflies fluttered, and I faltered sometimes. But the learning and experience I gained was invaluable. Only when you allow the stumble, the ride is mastered.

Know No: The three most honest and beautiful words in the language, are I don’t know. Yoga teachers are not doctors, cannot and should not diagnose and one should be comfortable with saying this. When I hear a teacher say they don’t know something, my trust increases exponentially. I know I am in safe hands.

This blog post, I hope will serve as a reminder to myself to not get jaded, to stay true to my own voice, to serve other students of Yoga with a passion for the practice, compassion for their journey, and personally never stop being the most important thing a teacher can be: a student.

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