You’ve saved your pennies to attend the latest conference, mainly to take a class with your favorite celebri-yogi teacher.
This celebrity teacher may have been featured on the cover of a magazine, or in glossy advertisements; you subscribe to their YouTube channel, and can feel their charm and enthusiasm right through your laptop. They inspire you with their advanced asanas, their plucky attitude, and, gosh darn it—they’re just so damn cute! But can they teach?
You attend their workshop and await transformation, in your asana and personal practice. The excitement and expectation is overwhelming. And, sometimes, the hype can pump us up, and leave us blind. Teaching is an honor, and it should be about the student and their practice. It should not be a performance centered on the teacher, exalting their practice. A teacher’s ability to perform an asana is irrelevant if they can’t show you how to get there.
Here are a few traits I believe are absolutely necessary in an adequate teacher (both celebri-yogi and local). And a celebrity teacher should be more than adequate; they should be stellar:
1. Are they Accessible, Available, and Present?
I’ve seen many a celebri-yogi enter a class like a rock star; arms waving, thanking the crowd, making a sweeping statement about the class or workshop then jump right into the practice. I admit, the grand entrance looks like a lot of fun. But, a great teacher should try to meet as many of the participants as possible, learn names, and give the students a chance to let them know about injuries or health concerns.
Those that make the grand entrance, also make the quick getaway. This allows the teacher to actually leave in a timely manner, and avoid stupid questions (yes, they exist—I was in a workshop with a celeb yogi and a student asked to see his abs). But, if you have any relevant questions or comments regarding the practice, you are left to figure them out on your own.
To be fully present while teaching means having the ability to spot an injury, and offer an alternative posture; to see questions in the eyes of students and give them the space and permission to approach and ask freely. This is very difficult to accomplish in huge workshops, but not impossible. A great teacher must be mindful and aware of what is happening in the room around them.
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