This blog post was contributed by April Puciata, our lead trainer Meditation Instructor in Inlet Yoga's 300 Hour Seasonal Yoga Teacher Training.
Then I began my yoga teacher training. Part of the training involved attending my teacher’s meditation class. And he said something that’s stayed with me about the practice and about practicing. . .
“You don’t have to stop doing anything. Just start doing this.”
I knew then I was in the right place. These words meant so much to me and so I decided I would try. There had been way too many times when I was told what a yogi should be or what yoga should look like. And while I knew some of the habits I was holding onto were not healthy, I wasn’t quite ready to break up with them just yet.
His statement allowed me to practice without judgment. His statement also showed me his confidence in these techniques.
And what happened eventually was the letting go of habits that did not serve me.
Not because I made a conscious decision - I just gradually began to go to my practice rather the patterns I was stuck in.
Would I have quit them anyway? Maybe. But I believe it would have been much more difficult.
Although it was really challenging for me to commit to meditation practice and on days it is still tough to sit still, this practice has held me through many losses, injuries, and aspects of my life.
I can tell you about many benefits - but the one major thing I’ll state here is that meditation made me less fearful.
And that has had the most impact on me personally as I navigate through my life and the many challenges that have come with it and the decisions I make.
So I deeply hope that yoga teachers want to know and then teach these practices. They are so tremendously valuable.
Of course. you need these techniques to be authentic to you in order to bring them to your students.
But what happens after that? There is still so much to consider when bringing these tools to your classes. Like a vinyasa class, you might have a practice and know what you love, but there is a lot of knowledge you need to be rooted in first before them delivering them.
What makes a good or even great meditation teacher?
Again, much of it is practice and teaching and practicing yourself.
Here are some other important points that come up in all of my meditation teacher trainings. . .
- Meet your students where they are. No need to give them three pranayama and kriya and visual and mantra if they have never noticed their breathing. Start them with simple techniques and know-how to teach simple techniques.
- Make sure they are comfortable. Know how to use props and if they need to have them sit in a chair. They cannot move into a deeper meditative state if their knee hurts.
- See your students. And when I say this I mean also know that everything sits in front of you. Trauma. Love. Heartbreak. Loss. Bad workdays. Bad hair days. Also know, it’s not all about you. The fidgeting, the eyes wide open, even the walking out of class.
- Do not assume and do not judge. Teach from your heart. I’ll refer back to the statement from my teacher above. You don’t have to stop doing anything. Just start doing this.
- Consider your surroundings. What is the temperature? Are you taking these things into consideration when you decide what kind of practice to lead? Feel the energy of the room.
- Know why you are doing what you are doing. Rather than talking about subtle body and balancing energy know and discuss the benefits that science backs up. Tell them what is happening physiologically. This has a huge impact and makes it real.
- Know the yogic definition of meditation. Again why are we doing this according to the yogic texts?
- Watch your cadence, your voice, and your language. You want to be calm and even but not monotone or syrupy. You want to avoid triggers if possible.
- Don’t be afraid of S P A C E . Yes it can be uncomfortable. People will open their eyes. Allow your students to have their own experience. So as above, see your students and don’t feel the need to fix, please, or change them.
- Recognize these practices are powerful. Some students might have a reaction even to a simple breathing exercise. Make sure you allow for people to exit and make sure you GROUND them before they leave so they are not spacey.