While teaching, I watch the students just as I watch my mind while I am practicing – with relentless attention, great patience and hope for an opportunity to learn.
Sometimes the early morning moments of encouraging my own body parts into these asanas mysteriously blends into the later morning moments of helping students move their limbs into the asanas. It’s like I have many arms to bind, feet to catch, and heads to balance on.
Disciplined and sincere observation of students is a way that I find and test the optimal support methods for our individual and collective pursuit of yoga. Observation gives me information about the ever-changing nature of the body and mind. It also brings up all kinds of thoughts and feelings from within me.
Applying all this information is the art of tactfully teaching the science of yoga. What I see, hear, smell (?!) and sense as a teacher leads to decisions about how to work with our collective practice. Helping others then becomes the magical outcome of filtering the fundamental principles of yoga through my entire personal experience, and applying that knowledge while staying acutely in tune with my intuition.
My ‘teaching practice’ is blending in to my life practice of yoga. And just as I wish for more and sweeter yoga in my own life, so too do I wish that for my students.
Perhaps the most challenging moments come when I feel that what is needed in the equation is nothing more but the cultivation of more tapas (inner heat/discipline) by the student her or himself – when I just know that the only thing missing, is a bit more umph from within that student, it is all I can do to keep my equanimity.
Meanwhile, I wish and I hope. The more I know, the more I realize that I don’t know.