Years ago, while I was in Lahore, Pakistan on business, I went shopping with a co-worker’s wife. We talked about everything from travel to work to food. As we left a local market, she asked, “What does an avocado taste like?”
I was at a loss. Words like green and creamy were more frustrating than descriptive. How could I relate the experience of taste without any shared references?
As a yoga teacher, I experience this in almost every class. Really! What’s a bandha? We all give wordy descriptions and vague locations but you really don’t know mulabandha until you know mulabandha.
When I started teaching, I practiced Primary Series all the time. Knew it by heart. But then, I had to guide others through it. It was like night and day. I instinctually knew where to put my foot, where my dristhi was, etc. But, guiding others through that without the shared reference of years of practice was something new and difficult.
Clarity in instruction is so important. In a teachers’ workshop, Jonny Kest told us that we need to be able to say the same thing several different ways to get the point across. He’s so right.
One huge complement I get from students is about the clear direction I give. People often say they didn’t get something until they heard me say that key phrase that made a difference for them. I love that. I love it even more when I get a look of total confusion from a student in class. “Put my what where?” That helps me stay focused and figure out another, clearer way to give direction. Explaining flow, bandhas, chakras, prana, etc is as difficult as understanding it.
Telling teachers what doesn’t work is just as helpful as telling us what does work. It helps us become better teachers.