I watched him and reflected on the joy he brings to each encounter. As a newly minted yoga instructor, I paid close attention to the way he taught, trying to learn from the master. I saw him do something I have seen him do before and marveled at each time. It is difficult to describe, but it seems to me that he, without any fanfare or fuss, takes in the collective energy of the room – the various physical ability levels and varying levels of spiritual knowledge – and then he lifts everyone up beyond their own best level. It is astonishing, but goes largely unremarked upon. People just know that something special is happening in each class taught by Sri Dharma, even if they don’t know quite what it is.
What is one practice that you do every day?
by Jason Zagaro
Time is usually something that consumes the mind of a novice teacher – we think too much and too fast, speak too fast, move too fast…
Don’t try and be the best yoga teacher on the planet and remember everything they taught you in your training. If Sanskrit words come naturally and you feel comfortable using them, then do so. Otherwise, work on filling your time and watching the room so people don’t get injured.
Some teachers have no idea what pose is coming next. Some teachers have the class scripted to the T. Some even sequence the entire class set to the music they play. Many teachers just teach on a whim, spontaneously reacting to who is in the room. A good teacher teaches to the level of the room.
If the music is “bad” or inappropriate for a yoga class, it can really dampen or ruin the class. Everybody remembers a teacher who plays awful music and it can even deter the students from going back to that class. My first teacher in college had one CD and for three years he played the same CD in every class. The CD was Krishna Das’ Pilgrim Heart, which was my first introduction to kirtan. I remember my first year training with him and I thought, “This music is awful!” After constantly hearing the same songs over and over, my frame of mind finally adjusted and I began to like the CD. If I hear Pilgrim Heart being played in a yoga studio now, I get flashbacks to that time in my life. Some lineages of yoga don’t have music at all; they want you to work on calming the mind, which means no distractions from your asana class.
I am always grateful to everyone who comes to take my class, even if some don’t follow the code of asana class perfectly. The fact that people would pay their hard earned money, drive to the studio, part from their families or home life for a period of time to listen to what I have to say and be guided by me as a teacher really makes me feel grateful.
As teachers, we are trained, and most of us practice, patience and understanding. We understand no one is perfect– including ourselves as yoga teachers! Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to set the code of conduct for the class. Some teachers will tell me about students not acting appropriately and I always ask them if they discussed the problem with the student. Sometimes students are not being disrespectful, it is that they just don’t know the parameters of the class. It is our job as teachers to educate them.
6. Encourage Your Students to Practice Away from Class.
If your students have a lot of fears, practicing asana is a great way to work on those fears. As teachers we love to help those who are fearful about poses to overcome that fear. It is a process where we build the courage to take the first step, and then proceed from there.
If someone has been working on a pose and he or she finally gets it in the class, the teacher is just as excited as the student. To work so hard at something and then finally achieve that goal is such a rewarding concept.
As yoga teachers we care about bringing people to our classes and pleasing the owner of the studio where we are teaching. Numbers are not important in the concept of yoga, but revenue is part of the reality of teaching yoga today.
In the end, you’ve created a peaceful environment for the students and introduced the beauty of yoga and watched it transform lives. When the class is moving as one, as one heartbeat, and the students are moving in sync, take a moment to stand back and experience the gratitude of being a part of the peaceful unity that is occurring during the class.
Pranayama is yoga’s little secret. Outside of the yoga world, no one talks about fully dedicating attention to your breath unless you’re hyperventilating or experience some other health issue like pneumonia or asthma. Even then, in my limited experience, the medical world rarely knows what the power of conscious breathing has to offer.
- Work with a 4:2:4 breathing ratio for a few weeks (5-10 minutes a day).
- This means inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 2, exhale for a count of 4.
- As this gets easy, you can increase the ratio to 6:3:6, or 8:4:8.
- Don’t be too ambitious. Remember it’s called calming breath so more doesn’t mean better.
By Melody Abella
By Arin Farrington
GF: Pranayama and meditation, at least 5 times a week.
GF: The Dharma Yoga Life of a Yogi 200- and 500-hour trainings.
GF: There are so many amazing people are under Sri Dharma Mittra’s umbrella. We all inspire one another, support one another and shared an amazing experience during our training.
GF: Regular Dharma Yoga classes and workshops in Brazil and also several workshops in Mexico, as well as Maha Sadhanas all over both countries. We’re doing a Dharma Yoga event in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, and this year’s will be the sixth time! 40 students attended last year. (Dharma Yoga in Puerto Escondido at the Santa Fe Hotel, June 27 -30, 2013)
GF: I am following my dharma by practicing and sharing the teachings of Yoga. It is my commitment for this lifetime.
GF: Finding Sri Dharma Mittra (or Sri Dharma having found me…) shifted my life completely. The LOAY teacher training program is an immersion to Self Realization. It’s hard to explain in words, but it’s hard to keep living the way you used to after the training.
GF: Since I first started studying with Sri Dharma Mittra, I teach every day. It doesn’t matter how many students attend class. Students from Mexico have been inspired and many have gone to New York to take the LOAY Teacher Training themselves. Yoga is not so popular in Brazil but I feel students spontaneously start going beyond the physical practice even if they came to class only for a physical yoga practice. They end up going beyond or feeling the curiosity of getting to experience more than the physical.