This week, one of the editors of The Confluence Countdown—namely me, Bobbie—has found herself in a Primary Series Adjustment Clinic run by Nancy Gilgoff. Our friend Jodi Blumstein, in yet another amazing get, is hosting at her shala.
I didn’t meet Nancy officially at The Confluence (although she dropped me back in one practice), so I’ve been looking forward to it. The group is small (only 20), and I realize, as a new teacher, I have a lot to learn. Hands on stuff is very important, you know. But it’s already been a lot more than that, and I’m just on Day One (of Five).
Readers of The Countdown know that I also teach writing, and that I mentor new writing teachers. One of the things that I encourage new teachers to do is to develop a teaching persona, a personality to use as a way to reach students, which can be tough with something as personal as writing. I encourage them to stay true to themselves, but to select qualities they found inspiring in the best teachers they had themselves. This sort of thing is really only done half-consciously, but you have to bring it to the fore to let it inspire your teaching.
So I actually teared up a little when Nancy began this morning by correcting an often-quoted line from Guruji, “Practice and all is coming.” Nancy:
What he actually said was, ‘You practice. Someday you teach, and all is coming.’ In order to connect the practice with the higher self, you need to share it.
Then, she asked us to reflect for a moment on the qualities we most valued in the teachers we’ve had, and what qualities we’ve liked the least. Before we began to talk about teaching, we thought about how we like to be taught.
The journey that has me sitting listening to Nancy Gilgoff talk about the teaching of yoga has been a long one. When I started Ashtanga, reaching my hands over my head was searingly painful. Forward folds hurt so much I used to have nightmares about them. The very idea that I would be thinking, over a decade later, about how I should teach—what kind of a teacher I’d like to be—is so remarkable to me I’m in a kind of shock. But I’m very grateful that teaching itself is familiar enough to me that I can recognized the value in observing a master work.
The value is not just in improving my own teaching, but in understanding my own practice, and through that understanding, to become a better teacher.
More to come.
Posted by Bobbie