In all the latest folderol surrounding yoga rebels, management teams, talent agency synergy, and bra fat, I wonder...
Are we still talking about teaching yoga?
To me, teaching is a very intimate experience. Two people come together over a period of time with the understanding that information will be shared, understood, processed and applied. One half of the pair will facilitate the learning and the other will absorb. Both are affected by the interaction and both emerge with a deeper sense of the material. The key to this definition--in my mind--is over a period of time.
Learning does not happen in an afternoon or a weekend. It may start in a day, but it is an ongoing process. It's important for students to have the continued support and attention of their teachers as this process unfolds. Not constant attention, but students should feel like help is available and that their teachers can guide them on their way.
Think back to your most valuable learning experiences. How much contact time did you get with that teacher? Were you just a body in a sea of freshman during a huge Psychology lecture? Was it during a weekend team-building exercise for work? I doubt it. What we remember as our education highlights involves a close connection to the teacher who helped make it happen--coaching during the school play by the drama teacher, yearbook work nights with the journalism teacher, dissertation advice from a major professor, career guidance from a mentor at work.
So how does this relate to the aforementioned dust-up? I get so weary hearing about expensive yoga retreats, massive yoga workshops, yoga stars jetting back and forth to this or that studio, because I wonder just how much teaching is going on. Inspiring, informing, showing and demonstrating, yes...but a week after the workshop, when you can finally follow the sequence but don't understand the logic behind it, who do you turn to? Or if you remember the pose wrong, but keep doing it and hurt yourself? Is there anyway to assess what is actually learned?
Maybe we need a second category for these kinds of learning experiences--yoga demonstrations, yoga performances, yoga lectures? Some one is showing and some one is watching or doing, but the close connection never happens and there is no follow-up. These experiences are valuable--obviously we value them more, performers make a whole lot more money than teachers--but I don't think a lot of teaching, as I've defined it, happens.
So there it is. What bothers me is equating success with how many demonstrations you do a year, or how many people you "reach" through books and endorsements. Yoga instruction as a revenue generator. All of that has its place (well, I'm not sure about the endorsements), but I wish we did more than just pay lip service to the teaching end.
Not everyone can teach. Not everyone can energize a ballroom full of people. There is a place for both, but they are not the same thing, nor should they be. Being able to do one, does not guarantee being able to do the other. They are separate and distinct experiences.
...In My Humble Opinion.