It’s no secret that yoga teachers continuously increase their knowledge and understanding as life-long learners. It takes many years of teaching to refine one’s practice and make any changes last. It could take as many as ten years for new strategies to become the norm in some settings! And it can be a lonely road.
In my early days of teaching some 16 years ago, a few of us yoga teachers in Hamilton wanted to support each other. We decided to meet from time to time and did just that … for a brief period. Again another group tried a few years later with the same result. It’s the play of life and schedules.
But let’s take a closer look at growth for the teacher. S/he hones teaching by attending continuing education courses, accessing various resources and using the strategies in instructional settings – private and group. A spotlight shines on that very act of teaching and a nightlight glows on learning.
I’m about to change this imbalance thanks to my mentor. She was the lead reviewer on School Improvement Projects and part of a larger British team that was helping out to identify key areas that needed a plan for change in local schools in New York. This retired school principal bursting with a passion for teaching and learning shared her insights into this process. She witnessed the difference between well developed and outstanding schools.
The light of curiosity switched on and I had to study the subject – with mentoring. This changed my curriculum design and much more. (Here I’m including the yoga teacher and therapy training programs.) While studying I became aware my teaching style aligned with this method. And I had taught with this lens all along. My pragmatic side claims responsibility.
Teachers who are keen on professional development ought to engage students in learning and do so with a master plan – beyond lesson plan. (Click to download lesson plan template.) What are your next steps as a “yoga teacher” or “facilitator”?
If you have a desire to transform your work and hone your skills as a teacher – then do not hesitate to call me. Together we can create a master plan for your success as a yoga teacher or yoga school.
For almost 10 years Heather Greaves has been helping yoga students learn to teach yoga. She has just developed a 6-week online mentored program – Teaching & Learning with Curiosity (TLC) - to support the yoga teacher who is keen on helping each student learn. To find out more contact Heather at 905-525-2426 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
by Laura Young
As yogis, the light and smile within us grows exponentially each and every moment. Equally, our surroundings glow brighter as we walk our path and we cannot help radiating further than the eye can see. We learn to take care of the vehicle we have been given by maintaining balance and understanding of our physique, emotions, energy, self awareness and connection with oneness.
What happens though when we tune in to the fact that what we are practicing is not the norm – we are not the majority? What happens when we begin to think that we have it all figured out and the way of the rest of the world is “wrong?” Do yogis have the right to judge and point fingers?
Right and wrong
In yoga, our journey is all about healing – healing the past wounds so we may uncover our true nature and continuously learning the skills to live with grace, compassion and strength so we float through the challenges that pave our way. We learn to practice ahimsa (non-violence) towards others, our environment and most importantly ourselves. We learn that making “mistakes” or “wrong” choices are actually wonderful opportunities to learn. The risk is that we can begin to believe we know what everyone else “needs” and when they are making the “wrong” choices.
Would you blame your parents for the choices they made about your health growing up or the foods they fed you which could now possibly contribute to cancer, heart conditions and other diseases? We can only take responsibility for ourselves at this very moment.
Many industries, institutions and cultures disseminate messages, products and experiences that can be perceived as harmful and corrupt. Does this automatically mean that all of the individuals within them are such and have similar intentions? Could these circumstances be strategically placed in our society as opportunities for us to learn?
If we take responsibility for ourselves, our health and happiness – like a pebble dropped in a pond could this ripple out to the rest of the world, universe and beyond? Joy can only be contagious!
Review By Shelley Martin
I have always had an awareness of the connection between my mind and my body. I struggle with our western way of diagnosing and treating issues within the body and this is what ultimately led me to yoga. As a patient of our healthcare system I was frustrated at attempts to mask my symptoms and strip me of control over my own health and as a healthcare provider I became frustrated with individuals coming to me to “fix” them. Reading Thomas Hanna’s book Somatics: Reawakening the mind’s control of movement, flexibility and health (1988) opened my eyes to a practical way of empowering clients to manage their own well-being as well as prevent injury and maintain function in my own body.
Somatics is published by Da Capo Press and is organized in a logical fashion using case studies to exemplify and explain the concept of Sensory-Motor Amnesia (SMA). SMA is defined as “… a memory loss of how certain muscle groups feel and how to control them” (p. xiii) and Hanna’s book offers practical exercises to prevent and reverse it. The Novato Institute for Somatic Research and Training (http://somaticsed.com/), states that founder Thomas Hanna was a philosopher who introduced the concept of ‘somatics’ in the 1970s. He continued to carry out research and develop the field of somatics until his passing in 1990.
According to Hanna, somatic exercises can not only prevent issues that we consider natural to the aging process but they can reverse changes that have taken place within our bodies.
by Garfield King
Two years ago I bought a lime sapling. I picked it out at the nursery because it had two tiny limes growing on a branch. Nice, I thought, soon there’ll be some citrus in the back yard. Six months later it had not grown any taller. It was still alive—as witnessed by a couple of new leaves—but no taller, no bushier, no flowers or tiny fruit.
A neighbour advised me to trim off those cute mini limes. “No way,” I said, “that’s the future.” She explained that this little plant was using all its energy and food to support those two tiny fruits. It could not and would not grow any more. In fact, the plant would likely die in a month or two.
I gazed at those tiny, firm limes while the neighbour’s advice echoed in my head. I just couldn’t bring myself to remove them. My reasoning went something like this: “Supposing I left the mini fruit on the plant for a few more weeks, just to see if they get bigger. That wouldn’t be a problem would it? After all, they’ve been there 6 months and the plant is still alive.” It wasn’t long before I realised that line of thinking was deeply flawed. The next day, with heavy hand and heavier heart, I cut off the two fruits.
Within 2 weeks the plant had pushed out new leaves, a new branch and had grown a couple of inches. Two months later it was more that a foot taller, bushy with small flowers appearing. The dream of citrus in the back yard will some be a reality.
Sometimes in order to grow, develop, mature-or simply to live-we need to throw off some things that may seem pretty, but are in reality sucking all our energy and resources.
Let it go… live
Garfield King – http://garfieldkingtt.com
Twitter – @garyink
by Glen Prevost and Brian Baetz
Do you feel better after spending time in nature? It may be more than just a feeling. Dr. Conrad Sichler is a Burlington-based medical doctor who uses nature as a healing tool. “I have many patients who find solace in nature,” he says. “People are using [nature] all the time, even though the medical profession doesn’t really think about it.”
Depending on your problem, Dr. Sichler may even write you a prescription for a walk in the woods. He is not opposed to prescribing pharmaceuticals. They make up about half of the prescriptions he writes. The other half is “everything else”, including prescribing nature.
“I try to see conventional medicine as a tool” explains Dr. Sichler. “Another tool is walking in the woods, another is group therapy, meditation, hypnosis, and imagination”. Dr. Sichler tries to strike a balance between these different medical tools when working with patients.
Dr. Sichler sees people as more than just a bunch of anatomy. He sees people as social, psychological, and spiritual beings. The social and spiritual parts, “in the broadest sense are that of nature,” says Dr. Sichler. Dr. Sichler’s convictions are consistent with the prolific Buddhist scholar, Joanna Macy, who has argued persuasively in her writings that open spaces are vitally important for our spiritual growth and the raising of mankind’s collective consciousness.
“We often think of nature and health when something bad happens…like a natural disaster… but if it weren’t for the plants around us we wouldn’t be able to breath” says Dr. Sichler. “So obviously clean water, healthy food, and some contact with nature are pivotal to someone’s health. We can’t separate them.”
Folks who don’t think they have a deep connection with the earth can also benefit. Dr. Sichler says, “someone doesn’t have to have a certain philosophy to benefit from nature because our connection to the earth is so long standing that it is beyond any set of beliefs.”
When asked how to balance urban space and green space, Dr. Sichler suggests that people need to access wilder green spaces within about five to ten minutes of their home. Dr. Sichler sees the emerging Dundas EcoPark as a way to meet this need. At 3,325 acres, the Dundas EcoPark would form the western part of the Cootes to Escarpment Park System and be a large wild space very close to Hamilton. It will include the north and south shores of Cootes Paradise, a provincially significant wetland, and part of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere reserve. The Hamilton Conservation Foundation is heading up a $5 million fundraising campaign to help acquire significant natural lands within the Dundas EcoPark.
While nature is important for the health of all people, Dr. Sichler says it is especially important for children. “Wouldn’t it be great if as children we could have a relationship with something natural as opposed to something that is only manufactured?” asks Dr. Sichler. “It is really important for children to get outdoors at an early age so they can see and feel and smell this inheritance they have been given. This is their legacy and is their heritage to live in and benefit from.”
For more information on the Dundas EcoPark, or to donate, please contact the Hamilton Conservation Foundation or visit DundasEcoPark.ca.
Glen Prevost and Brian Baetz are members of McMaster University’s Sustainable Communities Research Group.
Dr. Conrad Sichler, Practicing What He Preaches