Teaching Yoga from the HeartAugust 16, 2011 | 3 min read
In yoga, we learn to listen to our heart a little more than our head and to follow our inner wisdom, rather than the sometimes loud voices of the world outside. The same thing goes for teaching yoga – when you teach from your heart, it will give your classes a genuine, creative authenticity that can’t be faked.
If you feel like you’re teaching a little more from your head than from your heart, try these five tips for heartfelt teaching:
- Do yoga yourself. Great yoga teachers practice yoga – it’s as simple as that. When you do your own home practice, you move and breathe in ways that inspire you, listening to your heart and following with the asanas. If you’ve gotten busy and haven’t spent much time on your own mat, recommit to your own practice as a means of inspiring yourself and your classes with heartfelt teaching.
- Focus on the heart chakra. The heart chakra, or anahata chakra, is symbolized by the color green and represents love, emotions and relationships. Practice a chakra meditation (on your own or with your class – students always enjoy a chakra reading) and focus on the heart center. Feel openness in this place of unconditional love and balance with the world.
- Be yourself. This is, of course, obvious – and not without challenge. You likely have a lot of expectations placed upon you when it comes to teaching and a lot to juggle. Likewise, you might model your teaching after your mentor or favorite teachers. But when you teach as yourself, share your true self and your knowledge and gifts with your students, you’re teaching from the heart – your heart – and not the head. Your students will notice. This might mean giving up a class that doesn’t suit your style or passion.
- Try a heart-centered practice. Next time you practice and next time you teach, focus on your heart. Every time you fold forward, bring your hands through your heart center instead of out wide. When you’re in child’s pose, feel like you’re inhaling through the back of the heart and exhaling through the front. Do some extra backbends, focusing on the opening in the heart. When life gets busy, we can start to shut down in this area, hunching our shoulders, caving in around the heart. Take the time to open, move and breathe from this place of connection as a means of learning to teach more from the heart than from the head.
- Meditate. Again, this is something that you can do on your own or as part of your class. During meditation, when we get really quiet and just listen to the breath, we allow everything else to fall away. All the noise, all the distractions, all the “should”s. Meditation and breath work will allow you to connect with your heart in a peaceful, sincere manner, and then share that love and wisdom with every student you meet.
Teaching from the heart might also being a little more playful, doing more inversions (heart open the head!) or finding a new studio that better suits your teaching style.
This article was contributed by Megan Morrow