Thursday, March 3, 2011


Last night was the first class of yoga teacher training! First off, it was amazing to meet the people I have only known thus far online. I am looking forward to getting to know everyone better and learning from them. To have a room full of people as passionate as you are about a certain way of life is an unbelievable feeling of acceptance.

We learned a lot in those first 4 hours, but the biggest lesson that stands out is Observation. When most people think of a teacher - whether in a classroom or yoga studio - they think of someone who lectures, directs, takes control. Someone who leads. But a good teacher's role is opposite. To be a successful teacher, 90% of it is just observing. Listening. Watching. Sensing. Being so in tune with each individual student that you can deliver to them exactly what they need in a package they recognize.

Everyone has knowledge to share. Everyone has the capability to be a teacher to someone at some point every single day. But whether or not the student benefits from your knowledge is in how you deliver it. You need to sense what that student needs in that moment in order to get that lightbulb to go off in their head. To doso, you need to watch how that student approaches things themselves and mirror their own actions. Maybe someone is a visual learner whereas someone else seems to make the leap from metaphors. Maybe someone learns more while pushing themself whereas someone else is scared to move beyond that comfort zone. Maybe someone encourages debate whereas someone else gets defensive. To connect with someone, you must talk their language if you want them to respond. Teaching isn't about the knowledge you have, its about how well you can get it across.

The good news is, this intense observation is something that you can learn and cultivate. We did an exercise in class that I had done once before in a meditation class. I encourage everyone to give it a try and see just how observant you are.

Place a raisin in your mouth and close your eyes. Now just observe.
Where did you place it in your mouth? What shape is it? Can you feel the ridges? Can you feel where it is touching your tongue? Your cheek? Your teeth? What was your first instinct when you placed the raisin in your mouth? Did you act on this instinct or resist? Take a bite of the raisin. Which teeth did you use? Did you bite all of the way through or just a little bit? What feelings arose once you tasted it? How did your body react physically? Was there more saliva? Was it harder to resist just finishing it off was the flavor was released? Can you feel how many separate pieces there now are?

Just taking 5 minutes a day to really observe a situation as "insignificant" as eating a raisin (or getting into your car, or turning off your alarm, or taking a shower) gives you a glimpse of how many things happen that our brain never alert us to. We are missing out on all of this amazing intel about ourselves because we go into auto-pilot. By taking control of our observations, we can learn more about ourselves and can, in turn, more readily help others.

Here's a few to quick start your observational journey. What do you see?

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