One of the requirements of my yoga teacher training program is to complete a mentoring experience. Experienced teachers at the studio choose to provide a series of meetings/working sessions to a group of 4-8 students over a period of several weeks. Every mentor does things slightly differently, reflecting his or her personal preferences – so every student’s experience is somewhat unique. My mentor has chosen to run three 3.5-hour-long sessions, where every individual student in our mentor cohort will teach a 30-60 minute class to the rest of us in the group – and then receive immediate feedback on the content of the sequence they just led, as well as an assessment of their personal teaching style. Additionally, every student under my mentor must also observe 2 “real” yoga sessions offered by an experienced teacher (and ideally these classes are delivered to a group of beginner yoga students), and also participate in 2 real yoga sessions (again, ideally delivered to a group of beginner yoga students).
Today was my first small-group mentor meeting. Two of my peers led us through a full yoga sequence of their own creation; each of their classes was about 50 minutes long. It was interesting to see my fellow yoga students now in the front of the room, filling the role of “teacher”. I learned a lot by experiencing their class content and observing their teaching style; and I took quite a few notes – which I suspect will help inform the class I design for my turn “up front”. I’m not going to share all of the detailed notes I took here; when I deliver my class to the group (in April), I will post my full sequence at that time – and then you can get a feel for how my mentoring experience helped influence my class content and teaching style.
I know, I know… waiting is hard! :) So, to not have this post be completely vague and non-specific, I will share two more detailed items that came out of my class experience today:
1. Our mentoring teacher is a student of Feldenkrais; and he (our mentor) shared a quote from Feldenkrais: “If you know what you are doing, you can do anything you want.” In the world of yoga, various styles and schools of yoga often disagree about the ‘best’ way to perform any number of asanas (poses). Some people say put the back foot parallel, other people say put the back foot at a 45-degree angle; some people say look up, others say look down… the question becomes, “As a yoga teacher, how the heck do I even know what to do, much less what to teach?” To which point our mentor shared the sentiment from Feldenkrais – which I fully agree with. In the world of yoga, in the world of business, in the world of LIFE, there is rarely a single ‘right’ answer to any stated problem, or any given situation. My experience has been that if I act with intentionality, any choice I make can be the “right” one. Not everyone will agree with me – but if I can explain (calmly and rationally) why I did what I did, no one can fault me. They may not agree, but they also can’t say I’m “wrong” – just that we are different. And different is okay. I learned that lesson first in business; then I applied it to life. Now I get to apply it to yoga, too.
2. Yet again, I was filled with gratitude for my original yoga teacher. Time and again throughout this program, I have been reminded of how amazing that woman is. She possess wonderful knowledge about all eight limbs of yoga (from yama and niyama to pranayama and dhyana) – and she truly embodies all of the characteristics and qualities of a sincere yogi as best as anyone I know. I knew that I felt special and safe when I was taking her yoga classes; now I have a better understanding as to why I felt that way. The more I learn about the total state of yoga, the more I see hints of her all along the path – and the more deeply I appreciate how terrific and special a person she is, and how much she influenced me without my full awareness of it at the time. She is a person who implicitly asks others step up and rise up to meet her, instead of her settling or compromising who she is to be in accord with them; and in doing this, she often helps people without the individuals even realizing it. As I entered my final state of savasana today, I found myself reflecting on this very cool woman; and my heart filled with compassionate love.
So – there’s the scoop on my first group mentor meeting. During the next session, three of my peers are scheduled to teach; I’m curious to see what they do – and what within me responds.