Creativity—like human life itself—begins in darkness. —Julia Cameron
Day after day, week after week—maybe even year after year—you teach yoga. If you don’t teach a style with set sequences, such as Ashtanga or Bikram, you must constantly come up with ideas for what to teach and how to teach it. In other words, teaching yoga requires a great deal of creativity.
Some studios pick a monthly focus—anything from a pose to a concept to a sutra. The focus not only unifies the offerings for the students, it can be a helpful source of inspiration for the teachers.
Whether you enjoy teaching spontaneously or prefer to prepare the entire class pose by pose, it is not always easy to come up with something that feels fresh and authentic.
But even then, you are essentially on your own as far as the specifics of your class plan. Whether you enjoy teaching spontaneously or prefer to prepare the entire class pose by pose, it is not always easy to come up with something that feels fresh and authentic.
Beyond mining my own practice for ideas and checking in regularly with respected teachers, I re-charge my teaching with special workshops and silent retreats; in-depth study, new surroundings, svadhyaya (self-study), and even the break from teaching itself can be a deep well of inspiration for months afterward.
But such advice is not necessarily helpful when it is already lunchtime, you have two classes to offer later that day, and your mind seems blank, your body dull, and although you practiced that very morning, you suddenly feel that you have nothing to teach.
Is this a crisis particular to new teachers? Of course not! I have spoken to teachers with over twenty years’ experience for whom “teacher’s block” is a regular occurrence.
That’s right, just like writers, on some days we need tools to help us access our creativity, wisdom, and knowledge.
Here are 5 suggestions for days when you could use some "yoga teacher inspiration:"
1. Sit. Meditate. You already knew that was a good idea. But that doesn’t mean sit quietly and make up your class. Steady your mind within the present moment. You will clear the slate of a lot of chatter that may be getting in the way of your class plan. Here are some different methods to try.
2. Walk. Or run. Or bike. Nothing frees the mind like rhythmic movement in space. Stand up from your desk, get off your mat, go outdoors. Find a patch of the natural world. Your mind may open. The seed of your class may get planted.
4. Read. Yoga philosophy, writings on practice, collections of poetry, even your own notebooks may be a good place to turn. Whether you find wisdom from a beloved guru or the memory of your own response to a terrific class you once took, the pages of a book can be the kindling you need to re-ignite the fire of your teaching.
5. Listen. Mozart, Prince, Krishna Das, or any artist or genre that you love or would like to explore. Dance or lie down. Allow yourself to shift from thinking to feeling. Music just might set you free.
6. Let go. Rest. Do nothing. Be. Practicing savasana can move you into a deep state of receptivity in which pretty much all answers can be found. Yup. No matter how busy your life as a yoga teacher is, savasana is still the pose to practice.