September 20, 2011

Permission to Practice

Last night was my second evening of classes in the Berkeley Yoga Room's Advanced Studies Program. What I am immediately recognizing is the generosity with which the yoga teacher practitioners are sharing their practices. Both Sandy Blaine and Gay White, who teach the very first classes in the program, are openly sharing their knowledge, challenges and learnings with us, their students.

Being a student with open-hearted teachers helps me reflect on my own teaching. When, last night, Sandy asked us to "go ahead and practice" the sequence we had designed for ourselves, I nearly cried. This was the first time I had been asked to implement my own yoga practice. It was a moment of permission to trust myself and be public about my intention. In reflection, this is what I do with my students when I ask them to prepare and present a class lesson to their classmates.

This is finals week at my school and I am in the process of updating my syllabi for next quarter's classes. My experience with the yoga program is helping me to recognize what goes through a student's mind when they are to be a teacher for a class session. There is a moment of anticipation and even panic when you get up and lead the class. Next quarter, to help my students prepare, I am going to present the first week's lesson and have them grade me - turn the tables. They will have my grading rubric and will use it to evaluate how well I hit the points. This way, when they take their turn as teacher, they will have already been in my role as evaluator.

It is always my intention to empower my students by giving them permission to practice.