“You must visualize your student as if they are already at the end of the school year having learned and understood what you taught, while embracing the person they are today. If a student is always treated like less than this, they will never achieve what you want them to achieve. A student will always rise to your expectations. If your expectations are that they stay where they are now or where they were before, that’s where they will stay. If you expect them to be greater than they are today they will meet this new standard and learn to enjoy every challenge. Always expect greatness.”
Now, I have no idea if this is a direct quote. In fact, it probably isn’t. I can’t even tell you what the name is of the professor that said this to me in my Philosophy of Education class back in 1998. I do remember what he looked like, and I remember this moment. There was a ring of truth to it that made it stick with me long after I had graduated with my Music Education degree, which was ultimately trumped by my Vocal Performance degree and never really utilized.
The inklings of understanding started to hit home when I taught my first few Bikram Yoga classes, stepping up to the podium and looking out at the students lined up and ready to work. If I expected their practice to stay as it was day after day and didn’t truly witness their progress, then I appeared to not be the teacher they needed or even wanted.
Though I’ve only been teaching for a few years at this point, I realize that what is really needed out of me is to be that witness, guide, and believer. It’s up to me to be truly present in the moment for my students. That, yes, ultimately it is about the journey, but what I really need to attend to is what the class, and each person that makes up the body of this class, needs right now. It’s not just about guiding the students through the postures, but holding onto the belief that they can actually achieve them, when maybe they haven’t gotten to the point where they truly believe that themselves. A yoga instructor must cast away any doubt that the student can be healed not only physically, but also emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically. And because of this, expectations have to be high throughout the 90-minute class.
So how do we get to where the teacher is? How do we start believing in the picture they are already holding in their mind of us at the endpoint? What is our endpoint? What goals did you come to this hot and sticky room to achieve? These are just some of the questions to ask your self. You have to know where you’re going in order to get there.
First things first – know why you showed up. Is it to lose weight? Reduce anxiety? Help heal an injury? The reasons are endless.
Concentrate on what’s going right. Most of the time we get hung up on the idea of, “my junk body.” My junk body has bad knees. My junk body gets migraines. My junk body is just not flexible. Let it go. You have an awesome body that works all day long to serve your every need. Start saying thank you to the body you have today, so you can cultivate the health and vitality of your body in the future. Let the instructor know what’s going on with you and let them hold the knowledge of your ailment while you start focusing on all of the good your body gives you day after day.
Tell yourself you are not only healing, but believe you are healed. See yourself at your endpoint – pain free, flexible, strong, and happy. Your teacher already knows its possible. Try not to be skeptical, but believe whole-heartedly that you are designed and coded to heal in every way.
Release old emotions and thoughts that hold you back. Did someone once tell you that you needed to lose weight? Or that maybe you weren’t as beautiful as they thought you should be? Did someone tell you that you weren’t smart or talented enough? Are these people still banging around in your brain? Do not let others opinions dictate your life. You are designed to be perfectly you – beautiful, strong, talented, and smart. Start hearing your own voice instead of others and let go of the negative people and memories that are holding you back from the life you daydream about.
Get rid of limitations and embrace your limitless nature. Stop embracing thoughts that say you can’t achieve a certain goal, whether it is a posture, staying in the room for the full 90-minutes, starting a new career, or going after a dream. There are plenty of experts out there that say only certain things are possible. Why are we listening to them? They have put limits on your thoughts, your life, and what is achievable within this world. Open yourself up to a world where anything is possible. You were built to endure, thrive, and achieve grand things. Don’t let anything get in your way. Your gifts were given to you in order for you to share them with the world. Don’t let your life pass by without ever passing on what you alone have to offer.
The funny thing about yoga and life is that there really is no endpoint. Once one goal is achieved there is always another goal to reach for. Don’t get frustrated by this. Instead get inspired. Each goal you set is achievable. Believe this. Believe in your strength, your beauty, and that you are on this path for a reason. You were brought here to change the world. It’s up to you to decide what kind of impact you’ll have.
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