How To Be An Effective Sub
One of the most difficult aspects of being a teacher is teaching for someone else. While subbing is a necessity of this profession, one that offers an amazing opportunity to refine our craft, it’s not always easy or obvious. It can be challenging to navigate a space we did not personally cultivate, and it can be intimidating to face the visible disappointment or even outright resentment wafting from the students. Our mere presence puts us at a clear disadvantage: we are not their teacher!
Growing Your Classes
When it comes to growing your classes, I believe that quality is more important than quantity. In my opinion, success lies in being the best teacher you can be. Building community has always been more important to me than building a following. That said, teaching is also my profession—it’s how I put food on the table.
The Art of Sequencing
One of the principles of effective sequencing is that it should tell a story. The structure of a sequence follows an arc. There’s an opening and a warm up, where concepts are introduced and developed. Then there’s the climax, where those concepts are applied under challenging circumstances at the peak of heat. And finally, the denouement, where the story is resolved. As the author of a yoga sequence, you have to work backward. First, you must identify the most complex pose you’d like to teach. Then, you boil that pose down to its essence and strategize accessible ways to introduce its component parts throughout your class. As your students develop familiarity and proficiency with the actions, the stakes are slowly raised. Finally, you craft a cool down that neutralizes the body both physically and energetically.
Live Your Questions
Every year I spend five days at Heathen Hill in upstate New York to study with one of my teachers, Rodney Yee. It’s a very special week, not just because I get to enjoy time with my friends (the same group returns every year), or because I love the magic that is Heathen Hill, but because I get to be a student. My role as a teacher is to give, and this precious time with Rodney helps me refill my well.
Journaling Your Practice
I recently had the privilege of studying with Rodney Yee for four amazing days at Heathen Hill. Words can’t express how nourishing it was to be a student—to take off my teacher hat and just receive. There were only 18 of us in the room, most of whom were teachers, which created a very personal and intimate experience. Rodney held the space for us to practice openly and honestly with ourselves. I’m inspired by teachers who can offer intuitive instruction and then step out of the way; I find that this approach allows me to simultaneously refine and explore. And while it can be helpful to have a teacher accompany you on the scavenger hunt of experience, it’s also nice when they help you sharpen your tools and then send you off into the wild.
The Heart Of Teaching Yoga
I meet tons of people in my classes everyday and have the privilege of guiding their practices and watching them grow. A few weeks ago I met Susan, a 68-yr old woman who came to YogaWorks on a Groupon. Susan introduced herself and announced that she has a torn rotator cuff, scoliosis, and arthritis in her knee. She has flaming red hair and wears a teal-colored Bakelite Buddha on a chain around her neck. Susan spends half of the year in New Jersey and the other half in Florida where she practices vinyasa flow (she’s been practicing yoga since the seventies, following along with Lilias Folan on TV). I could see right away that she was a diligent and devoted practitioner, so when she asked if I taught privates I happily obliged. I worked with her three times over a week and while I expected to teach her my usual ritual of alignment, I found myself sharing something much deeper.