• Christina Raskin

HELP! Continued Education Contradicts What ‘I Know!’

I was in Halifax a week ago teaching some yoga workshops for the Canfit East conference. Thanks for having me @canfitpro, it was wonderful.

I absolutely love continued education and teaching teachers. To steal the words from Lindsey (the owner of our Nova Scotia studios) … it’s my jam!!!

I lead a lot of continued education workshops for instructors but I also do a ton of continued education myself…. All… The… Time. It is so important for us to continue to grow and learn. But what happens when we learn something that contradicts what we currently ‘know’ to be true? Something that is different or even opposite (gasp!) to what we have been teaching for years?

As a student, I have been through this experience too many times to count over the years. It can be challenging, overwhelming and, quite frankly, confrontational. The first thing I always notice is the reaction within myself and my body. My defenses come up and I usually want to grasp (Parigraha) on to what ‘I think I know.’

As a teacher, I see this happening in students almost every time I do a continued education workshop for teachers. For lack of a better phrase, they get their back up. I see them bristle and question. This isn’t wrong or bad, it’s actually a healthy reaction. It’s wonderful that they question. I don’t think they should automatically trust everything they hear, from anyone. Questioning is healthy. However, I also don’t think it’s helpful to grasp onto information (that might be outdated or uneducated) with a closed mind.

So, as constant students of yoga, how do we deal with this? Since I’ve been re-educating myself for 17 years, I have come up with a process for handling this reaction within myself and I find it to be quite helpful. Maybe it will be helpful for you too.

1. Notice that it’s happening. The first step is awareness and noticing what is happening in your mind and your body. Notice your visceral reaction. Notice your thoughts. Why are you feeling this way? What are the roots of those thoughts? Is it helpful?

2. Breath. Once you notice that your defenses are coming up take a moment to breath. Remember that the teacher sharing the information isn’t judging you, he/she doesn’t think that you are a bad person or a bad teacher. They are not saying that your teachers are bad. This isn’t about you or your worth. It is just information.

3. Listen and be open minded. When our defenses come up, we stop listening and our mind closes. Then we can’t be open-minded and logical. Maybe what they are saying is BS… but maybe it’s not. And you’ll never be able to make a logical decision for yourself unless you can really listen and hear their point.

4. Ask questions! So, what they’re saying is different than what you teach and you don’t quite understand. Then ask questions! Ask them to explain, in detail. Ask them how they know this, ask about their training. Also ask them their ‘why.’ Why do they not say that cue, why is that transition not safe, why do they interpret the ancient text that way. Essentially why do they do what they do. Be sure that when they answer you continue to listen and be open minded. Try not to ask questions with the intention of proving your point or making yourself right. Instead, ask with the intention of really understanding their position and taking it into consideration.

5. Process and evaluate. After the training, take some time to process the new information. Think about it, talk about it, and maybe try it in your own body (if it’s Asana related). Look up additional resources and do some more education on the topic. Then, with all the information you have, evaluate what you think. Does this new information make sense, is it helpful? Do you incorporate the new information into your teaching or let it go? As an educated teacher, it is ultimately up to you to decide what do to with the information.

If we decide to accept this new information, we have another challenge. How do we bring this into our teaching? How do we tell our students, ‘I know I said ABC last week but this week it’s different?” Talk about a nightmare!

Guess what? I also have a process for this too check out my next blog, Incorporating New Information into our Teaching.

Have questions? Need more information? I always love to chat! Reach out to me on social media, via email on contact me through the website. Talk soon :)

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