Teacher vs. Instructor
Is there a difference between a Yoga Teacher and a Yoga Instructor? I think there is. I like to call myself a teacher, an educator, not just an instructor.
A yoga instructor tells you what to do. They lead you through a yoga class. They instruct you to step your right foot forward or to watch your breath. They are directive and commanding. I'm not saying this is bad or wrong, it's just a style choice.
I chose to be a yoga teacher. I might tell you to step your right foot forward and to watch your breath. My cues also might be directive in nature... but along the way I try to teach you something. I might educate you about the movement in your hip joint as you step forward. Or I'll teach you how to be more mindful and present as you watch your breath.
I highly value education. I continue to learn as grow as a human as much as I can, this is one of my most deeply held values. Education builds confidence, helps us to self reflect, and to become self- reliant. Studies have proven that learning is vital for continued brain health and our own happiness. Education helps us to gain perspective and understand the world around us. This education doesn't have to be in the traditional sense of sitting in a class room learning from books. Life and our yoga mat can be our class room.
And so I teach. I teach students so that they can learn and grow on, and off, the mat.
I don't take this role of educator lightly.
When it comes to anatomy & yoga I ensure that I am constantly learning in order to help support my students in their learning. I continually self-evaluate to see if I'm being an effective teacher and if my students are getting value from my offerings.
When it comes to spiritual education (philosophy), I understand that my truth is not the truth. I have my current understanding of the world around me, but that will change. Thus, I try to encourage my students to look inwards and find their own spiritual path. I might be able to offer some wisdom or experience but ultimately it is up to them to find their our wisdom and truth. I try to teach them how to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth and not rely on me.
I also understand that by being in the seat of the teacher there is an automatic power imbalance between me and my student. Our students will look to us for guidance, they will believe what we say and often do what we ask. Understanding this is important so that we can realize the weight of our words and actions. We must take responsibility for what we say and what we do, recognizing that we will influence people, whether we want to or not. This is a complex subject and really worth of it's own blog for another day.
I really hoped you learned something from this blog ;)
So what do you look for in a teacher? Check back next week when I explain what I look for and what I value in a teacher!