Boundaries: Tips for Maintaining Your Practice as a Teacher

This week I had a great chat with a teacher in training, and she remarked that her yoga practice had changed in that now her mind is busy noticing cues, transitions, sequences, and other teaching skills when participating in a class, rather than just focussing on her own practice.

I could really relate and remember literally having a notebook beside me when I went to classes to note great cues, class management techniques, innovative sequences, and cool prop tricks.  I learned so much by taking notes and really noticing how teachers were teaching – but where was my practice?  I was starting to spend all my time on the mat thinking about my students and my teaching skills rather than being in my body, in my breath, in the moment.

So, I realized I had to set some boundaries for myself.  I was in a big phase of learning, taking in new ideas, so I knew that I wouldn’t be able to completely cut out my observations.  But, I knew that I had to have time on the mat that was just for myself. With this is mind, I made some ‘rules’ about which classes would be just for me, for my practice, and which classes I could spend some time thinking about my teaching practice.  My rule was that the majority always had to favour my practice – for example, if I went to 5 classes a week, 3 were for me as a practitioner, and 2 could be for me as a teacher.  No more notebooks by the side of my mat, either (okay, yes I did make some notes in the car afterwards).

Establishing these clear boundaries allowed me to maintain my own practice, to have some space between my life as a teacher and my life as a student, and I think it has contributed to me being able to maintain enthusiasm for my practice all these years later.

If you have faced similar issues, perhaps thinking about establishing similar boundaries is an idea worth pursuing. If you have another method for maintaining your practice as a practitioner and teacher, we’d all love to hear about it so please do comment, share, and be part of the discussion.

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