July 8, 2014 § 14 Comments
What does it say about the quality of instruction I receive daily when I go off on vacation and practice with someone entirely new, and get so much more out of just three days with this teacher than I have from the past three years of practicing in my current room?
That’s quite a conundrum isn’t it? Surely it’s a warning sign that something is not quite right with the current state of affairs. It’s actually not the first time I’m seeing this discrepancy in teaching. We have a regular roster of visiting teachers who spend anything from a week to two months with us, and each time, this discrepancy in quality shows up. This time, it’s big enough to occupy my thoughts and for me to actually write about it.
In truth, I have struggled with the quality of teaching at the local studio for the better part of the last three years. There has been a lot of self-doubt. A lot of querying about how, maybe, it’s me that’s not getting it. Maybe I’m being too demanding, too egotistical in expecting a better instructional experience. There has been a lot of benefit of the doubt given to the teacher in authority, explaining away the things that puzzle me. There’s also, perhaps, some misguided acceptance of how, as a student, I should learn to be more accepting, generous, understanding of the teacher’s personality and how that shapes their teaching style.
There is also the realization that ‘Authorization’ from Mysore is certainly not an arbiter of teaching quality. Not. At. All. (So for those of you with teaching inclinations eyeing that ‘stamp of approval’ from Sharath, you might be of better service to humanity by focusing your energies on delving deep into your practice and developing your communication skills than running after a certificate. Just sayin’.)
So, this conundrum. What to do?
It is hard to explain – to myself even – what bad yoga teaching looks like without every line taking on the veil of a personal attack. Because yoga teaching is personal, any feedback can go very wrong very quickly. This is not something I have had to encounter with the majority of teachers I’ve practiced with since 2009. And so you don’t really think about it – you just sort of assume that if someone is a full-time yoga teacher, with a growing number of practitioners, that he/she knows what they’re doing and that you’ve got to “trust” the method. Trust the authority. Unfortunately, the longer I do this, the less willing I am to surrender my authority to just anyone, least of all to someone whose teaching style resonates less and less with my experience of the practice and my desire to learn.
But that still doesn’t answer the big question: Now that I see this conundrum, what am I going to do about it? I suppose blogging is the first step.