Monday, February 22, 2010


202 classes in 195 days.
55 classes in 52 days in the 101 challenge.

"One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love." - Sophocles

I earlier wrote about a newer teacher at my studio, Jennifer and how great she was and I think this deserves further explanation and how this relates to all teachers. There are a number of qualities that I like in teachers. First of all, let me say that I have yet to meet a teacher that I really don't like. I like some more than others, but even my least favorite ones are just that - least favorite. They're still good and how much I like them is a matter of taste.

To me, the things are like in a teacher are as follows:

1) Dialogue. This is obvious. I'm familiar enough with the dialogue now to notice if a teacher is departing from it badly. This is the glue that holds the class together.

2) Corrections. This takes some skill, to be able to deliver the dialogue well while also correcting students on postures. From what I'm told, the more you teach the better you get at fitting in corrections in between dialogue.

3) Knowledge and experience. This matters in class, but tends to matter more outside of class when it comes to detailed knowledge of postures, and corrections. This is very useful when talking to teachers outside of class, going over little points on postures, etc.

4) Sense of humor. This always helps in class, especially when you feel like you're in a furnace and want to run out of the room screaming.

5) Interesting stories. Ok, this might seem to conflict with being a good dialogue teacher, but hey, I like to hear stories. I love hearing personal experiences from the teachers. I don't want a lot of time taken up with this, but it is a nice addition to the class. Heck, I've taken class from Bikram and he's the king of interesting stories while teaching.

Having said all of the above, there is one point more important than any of them - love. Now obviously all teachers love Bikram yoga, or they wouldn't put themselves through 9 weeks of intense training, but some of them just have a special and magical way of conveying it. Love is an emotional wave that can cut through all kinds of other emotions, anger, grief, whatever. That is extremely valuable when you're going through physical and emotional nonsense in the middle of a class. It makes you work harder, it makes you go on in spite of a million reasons not to and it makes you come back for more.

Jennifer possesses this quality in abundance. She makes the most routine things in the class sound new and exciting, even though I've done them hundreds of times. Yesterday, as we were going into Floor Bow, she said "Ok, now we're going to work the entire spine against gravity!" and this actually sounded exciting and fun! Believe me, it takes a lot of love to get me excited about Floor Bow.

I'm sure we've all experienced teachers whose love carries over to us and other students and they should be cherished and loved back. Love is ultimately what makes this all work.



  1. I haven't had Jennifers class yet. Now I'm going to have to stalk the online schedule at Summerlin and see if she's teaching this week..... :)

  2. Ok, that is a FANTASTIC description of what makes a good teacher. I am tucking this away in my head for sure. "Floor bow!! Yay!!" That's awesome.

  3. I couldn't agree more. That is a great description. I had a teacher the other day were I wasn't getting that loving it all feeling, and just one (non-important) word changed threw me for a loop for almost two postures. But with teacher that real shine with that love for the practice I'll happily forgive them (or should that be not notice it) if they forget what posture or even what part of the series we are in. The love for it is definitely more important than the other points.

  4. I do not think all go to TT because they love the yoga. I believe there are so many motivations in those at TT, too many to unravel, in each and every person.

    I have not heard that quality described as "love". It is a cool way to talk about it. I personally think about it with three words: compassion, belief and energy. Of course, love is energy, compassion and to believe in the yoga is to love the yoga. Ultimately, the great teacher is a master at conveying and directing this energy, this belief, this love.

    Thanks for sharing the love. :)

  5. Indeed, love can be so powerful and inspiring. Your description completely nailed it! Jennifer's classes sound absolutely spectacular. "Love is ultimately what makes this all work." - so, so true.

  6. This is a terrific post!

    I find that there are some teachers who love the yoga and others that love the yoga AND their students. Classes with those teachers are so special. They inspire me to push my edge, try the hot side of the room, laugh when I want to cry, and smile proudly when I receive their praise.