My writing for MindBodyGreen has given more attention to answers than questions. But I found myself in a Nissan 'Innovators' interview with my wife Tara Stiles last week, suggesting that one benefit yoga gives to relationships is comfort with not having all things answered. I'll save the other relationship benefits for a possible later post!
For this one, I'd like to ask a question for collaboration. What is it that makes a great yoga teacher?
I believe we all have an aim in common, which Tara expresses as helping people to live healthy and feel good. How we all go about this is subject to a great deal of variation. It's also subject to evolution. My hope is this evolution can be a conscious, deliberate one, chosen to support our common aim of helping people. Clearly, this makes sense whether we happen to be leading groups of people on mats, or just living good lives with the people around us.
I'll start with five key qualities. Please keep this one going!
A great yoga guide:
1) Connects people with themselves. Yoga is about choice and intuition. Your choice and Your intuition is what needs to come out, not someone else's. Rather than lining up after class to receive the blessings of our guru, we need to connect with our own blessings -- what we all already have inside our selves. Good yoga strengthens us, rather than makes us dependent. A great teacher isn't looking for the spotlight. Rather, the spotlight is entirely on and within each person.
2) Leads a good, healthy, happy life. Yoga is working for this teacher! It's tough to share what you don't have. When you live what you share, you can inspire others to find their own way, through their own intuition. A teacher can motivate people by sharing what they have read and heard. But motivation is never so powerful as inspiration -- which can only come from what we feel through direct experience, what's inside our own lives.
3) Understands how we are in a pose is more important than the appearance of a pose. This understanding fundamentally evolves yoga from striving for what you don't have, to feeling what you do have. Interestingly enough, this is what make it easy to do any pose you can imagine, to move in any way you can imagine, and to live in any way you can imagine. It's all in our ability to feel. Feeling is much stronger than forcing.