What's Your Teaching Style?
As a new teacher, I think it is extremely helpful to explore the type of teacher you are. The more you can identify your style and your brand as a yoga teacher, the easier it can be to find studios that you will be happy at in the long term. Also know that this can change over time as you evolve in your interests and passions. Again, it's another way to identify what you want to study and what direction you are taking in your career, the type of content you post on social media, and where you find your tribe.
There are four type of teachers and students that I think are fairly encompassing in the teaching community. These four types of students and teachers are based on a blog post by Christina Sell. As she says in her post, be wary of creating firm boundaries around any label. But let them be there to create a loose awareness of yourself, your teaching environment and your students.
According to Sell, the types are:
1. Scientists and Engineers
2. Athletes and Dancers
3. Psychologists and Poets
4. The Monks and Mystics
These are the ways that I would describe each of these categories of teachers and students.
Scientists and Engineers
These are the students and teachers who are extremely interested in the mechanics of the shapes. They want to know which muscles are being activated, how the muscles are being activated, the steps needed to create safety and strength in each shape. They may follow around teachers who have a solid understanding of progression and alignment. They want the classes to have some kind of physical learning moment, like a new shape, or a new muscle engagement. Some of the best tools to reach students like this would be including things like props used to deepen the pose, new tools to activate muscles, or solid cues that create more awareness around structural alignment.
Athletes and Dancers
These are the students and teachers who want to sweat it out! They want a good and fluid flow that doesn't require too much thinking. They want to be move without too much analysis of what's happening in the shape or in their experience. They want to achieve a shape without contemplation of how they ended up there. The don't want things like demonstrations, commentary, or philosophical musings. Tools that help you reach these yogis are inventive sequencing, a hard workout, and good tunes.
Psychologists and Poets
These are the students and the teachers who are deeply interested in the inner lives of themselves and their students. They may not care about the mechanics of the pose as much as they care about the journey that took them into that shape. They may care about how their drop back allowed them to conquer fear rather than the actual mechanics of the drop back. A sequence without a theme or meaning is empty for these types of yogis. Tools for reaching these yogis would include a deep theme with thought provoking questions.
Monks and Mystics
These are the teachers and students who enjoy mythology and religious concepts in class. They are the yogis who perhaps do not enjoy a super physical class, but rather attend classes that connect them more deeply into a spiritual experience. They want to know more about the spiritual practices of yoga, like pranayama, meditation, sacred sound, and chanting. Tools to reach these types of yogis would include conversations about spirituality, Tantrik philosophy, chanting, and mythology.
Based on these four categories of teachers and students, I wanted to ask you a few questions for contemplation. Again, the more you know yourself, the easier it is to figure out where you belong. I think that in the beginning, you may want to try teaching a lot of different styles to see what works the best for you. And then, you may begin to identify what type of teacher you are and how you want to define yourself in the community. Keep coming back to these questions so you can continuously align yourself with your intention as a teacher. Know that you may be interested in a few different things, and I would encourage you be open and explore your interests.
1. What type of teacher are you? And do you fit into more than one category?
2. What are some studios around town you have been to that seem to embody these categories? How do you think these categories play out in the different studios you teach at or have visited as a student?
3. Are there any famous teachers you might identify with each of these categories?
4. Based on your interests, are there any concepts you would like to study more? Are there any teachers you would like to study with?
I would love to hear your thoughts about where you find yourself! It's always exciting to learn more about what you are passionate about and I can't wait to hear about what lights you up.