What makes a great teacher?
Just be your amazing, authentic self if you want to be the best teacher you can possibly be. By Gopala Amir Yaffa
Asking what makes a great teacher is like asking what makes a great day…there is an infinity of ways to make the experience effective, meaningful and awesome! Having said that, I have found that the following five principles define the approach that turns a mere discussion leader into a great teacher.
The best way to learn is to teach; and teaching is sure to help you be a better you.
When you teach, you need to be your ideal self; an expression of love, knowledge and kindness. This is not to say that you should be fake, just give it your best every time because…an awesome teacher is an awesome person.
But being awesome is not enough. You need to let your shine show so that the world cannot help but know how amazing you are. So let shine whatever ignites your unique sparkle and swagger!
A lotus flower does not form without mud, and the more mud, the better the flower. It is often the most broken people that make the best teachers. The challenges that they have overcome make them able to understand and relate compassionately to other people.
We teach best from our own genuine failures and experiences. If your life has been and is always perfect (or you pretend that it is), you will have nothing to teach. Therefore, teach from the inside, from the life experiences that have transformed you and don’t be afraid to show your own limitations, it will help your students feel more comfortable with theirs.
Therefore, be authentic to where you come from, who you are now and what challenges you and you can unlock the unique and real experiences and wisdom you have to share from within you.
Don’t pretend that you know something you don’t, or you will miss an opportunity to learn something new.
Refrain from trying to be anything that you are not. If you are not Indian, don’t try to be one by wearing Indian clothes and speaking Sanskrit, and if you are not a constantly zen and relaxed person, don’t present as if you are. People will know if you are faking it, and if you do this you are robbing the world (including yourself!) of the awesome experience of the most prized and precious thing you have to share: your authentic self.
Don’t be swayed; nothing is good for everyone, and everything is good for someone.
Trust that you have meaningful gifts to give to the world that someone will need. When you offer your authentic gifts from your heart, they are sure to be a great service to someone.
Make your yoga your own, and make it new!
Yoga is not set in stone; it has been evolving since forever. Even the most ‘traditional’ yoga teacher trainings have very little in them that would have been called ‘yoga’ a hundred years ago.
The possibilities are endless and this is how people came up with ideas like Kids Yoga, Partner Yoga, Senior Yoga, Aqua Yoga (yoga in the water), yoga and weightlifting, Doga (yoga with your dog), yoga and knitting, yoga on exercise balls, Yoga Fight Club (yoga and martial arts), Yoga Canvas and Cabernet (yoga, painting and wine drinking), Yoga for Surfers, Yoga for Golfers, Equestrian Yoga (yoga on horseback), Naked Yoga, Acro Yoga, Circus Yoga, Aerial Yoga (yoga suspended from the ceiling by straps)… and there are very many more!
So, what are your passions, what are you really good at, what have you been working on already for your whole life that has made you who you are today? Don’t forget about all of these awesome parts of yourself when you shift into yoga teaching.
Life is an evolution rather than a revolution, and everything in your present and your future, has, in one way or another, a foundation in what you have achieved and experienced in your past.
So don’t be like the other yoga teachers out there: experiment and explore to find your personal and passionate style of yoga to share with the world!
Start teaching right now!
Don’t wait until you know everything before you start teaching; no one knows everything. And don’t wait until you are perfect before you start to teach; no one is perfect. Waiting only makes you stagnant and dulls your energy.
The honest truth is that you learn as you go and you evolve with your students, so get out there and share yourself with the world!
Be The Change
What is the job description of a great teacher? I have always read it as “to make people happy!”
You are amazing (we all are in our own special way) and you are going to change the world…not by talking, but simply by being the awesome, powerful, free and inspiring version of yourself that you have decided to be!
The question now is not if you are ready, but if the world is ready for you. Of course, the answer is always: yes!
Gopala Amir Yaffa is co-founder & wizard at Rainbow Kids Yoga (rainbowyogatraining.com)