When I say safe I mean what we feel comfortable with, nothing that makes us have to pay more attention than we already are, nothing that we might have to practice a bit or even ask students questions about.
As a teacher I have over the past decade been very conscious of this in my own teaching. I was talking with a teacher (my mom) the other day and guiding her about some teaching strategies with integrating new material and information into the classes without freaking out students and without freaking our herself. And I shared a story about when I first started teaching how I wouldn’t teach Pigeon in class because I was afraid of how to get students into it and the fact that it might be really hard or uncomfortable for them to be in. And one day I just decided that I was a moron and taught it and the feedback was stellar, they of course loved and hated it all at the same time. But that experience helped me realize that I was doing no one a favor by keeping something from them that they needed merely because I was afraid, uncomfortable and worried way more than my students were. I was actually keeping them from growing and keeping them from something that we both needed. And the hips are storage depots for past tensions and tightness (physical and emotional) so at that time in my life I definitely see a relationship between my avoiding that pose and my needed to also teach it for me, not just solely my students.
So teachers pay attention to what you are avoiding, to what you dislike, to your hang-ups, to your criticisms. As part of my practice I work very diligently to keep that in check. I notice that I am in a box so to speak and I then take a few breaths and some time to see where that is coming from. Am I seeing a need and expressing to that need or am I avoiding and then in the end avoiding? This is something for you the teacher to discover.
So step back for a moment today or this week and notice the direction of your teaching, what you bring to the mat, I notice in my own teaching that if I work to be even more present than I already am what is good to many is stellar to me. So even when you are at the top of your game, climb back down to get a better look and then climb back up again.
I do this exercise with my teacher trainers: write down your 3-5 favorite postures that you love…….
Now write down the 3-5 least favorite postures in your practice/teaching…..
O.K. now for the next week you are not allowed to teach your favorite postures and you need to incorporate one or all of the least favorite postures into your teachings this week. Now some of you may say, “but I need Down Dog, or Plank, or whatever”. And I say, no you don’t, think outside the box, get creative, step from your rigid left brain to your creative right brain and see what happens. Notice the comments, facial expressions and reactions of those in class.
Let me know how it goes.