By Beri Golding
During the January Authentic Yoga Teacher Training Intensive, I offered a workshop entitled “Teaching From the Heart.” In contemplating what kind of workshop I wanted to offer, I reminisced on my 200 hour teacher training experience in January 2007. While I loved every moment of my teacher training, there was one day in particular that was mesmerizing and extremely relevant. It was probably the beginning of the third week of the one month intensive and my teacher, Dave Oliver,spoke on the deities and told the stories of both their light and shadow aspects. He told stories highlighting both the masculine and feminine aspects of the creator, perpetuator, and destroyer. After we discussed the characteristics we saw within ourselves, as well as our peers. Ultimately, the trimurti simply and profoundly enabled us to recognize ourselves, others, our yoga community and essentially the students we would find in our classes. While this day was such a highlight in my training, I realized that I rarely shared these stories with my classes and students. In contemplating why that was, I was reminded of Dave’s powerful description of the shadow aspect of Parvati (the wife of Siva), “Sometimes she throws her light in the bushes to protect the ego of the man she loves.” Did I think I wouldn’t be able to tell the stories the same way my teacher did so brilliantly? I honestly do not know what my hesitation was previously, however I did have a sense that it came from my shadow. Originally the name of my workshop was “How not to Throw Your Light in the Bushes.” ( :
Consequently, the focus of the workshop was directed at encouraging all trainees to be aware of the parts of their experience that really speak to their hearts. Many of us come into yoga teacher training not exactly sure about what we want to do with it. Some of us know we want to teach, others a little more hesitant, some with very specific yoga disciplines of interest, others looking to broaden their interests. I think the vast majority of us come out of the experience gaining so much more than we ever bargained for.
So I brought some simple school supplies to serve as reminders and to “bookmark” those parts of the training experience that sparked curiosity, pulled on heart strings and lifted spirits. Everyone who was in attendance was invited (not at all required) to offer some of his/her own yoga story, whether it was regarding how they discovered yoga, their passion for teaching yoga to children, or their aspirations to take their yoga practice into their business practice. Everyone in the group chose to speak (despite some phobic about public speaking) and everyone offered something truly exceptional about themselves. At times it was very emotional and so it was raw and inspiring.
Realizing that like with anything else, there can be moments where we feel pressured to replicate the classes that we enjoy, or try to teach to fill the room, so we teach what we think our students want to learn. The focus of teaching from the heart was directed at the subtle aspects of learning, and ultimately teaching. The moments where we see ourselves without personalizing or judging are the moments in which we are able to experience the most growth. Teaching from the heart, essentially is the absence of giving in to throwing our light in the bushes, allows us to find just as much brilliance in yielding to our vulnerability as we do when we yield to our power. That is authenticated inspiration and so it is pure yoga.