August 30, 2013

If You Try to Be Everyone’s Teacher, You Will Fail. ~ Michelle Marchildon

It’s taken me many years and an equal amount of work on my ego, but I finally have the lesson that we are not going to be everyone’s teacher.

It’s a hard lesson. When we first step out of yoga teacher training we want nothing more than to serve every single yoga student that comes our way. So, we try to please and ask for feedback.

This is what I get for feedback: You are too fast. You are too slow. You give too many verbal cues. You don’t give enough verbal cues. That top makes you look fat.

Now I only ask for feedback from my loyal students, you know, the ones who lie and ask if I’ve lost weight (that’s a joke, yoga people).

The question for yoga teachers is, how do we know our students? Those would be the ones who resonate with your offering. And listen up: Not everyone will resonate with what you got.

Big lesson. Huge.

For me, this lesson meant that I no longer measure my success by the number of students in my room. I measure my success by the number of people whose lives I’ve changed, as mine was changed by yoga. And I am proud to say that I have helped to launch many nationally and locally prominent yoga teachers in Denver. I am affectionately known as their “yoga mom.”

My “beginner” classes are often filled with advanced yogis looking for ways to teach the poses, and ways to find more in their own bodies. I am so proud of my students and how they are not just doing, but learning.

They are not truly beginners, but they keep that beautiful, open beginner mind.

But this doesn’t mean I am popular. These days, the popular teachers are often the ones who tell you “good job,” no matter what the heck you are doing. “Good job and come back soon.” Vague is in vogue.

I am not that teacher.

I would have to have had a lobotomy to be that teacher.

However, to be clear, I often go to “that teacher” for a strong practice and workout. So it’s not a bad thing to be vague; it’s just not how I teach. I hope that’s clear for all the power and vinyasa teachers who are going to write in and ask me why I’m trying to destroy yoga.

Again. I love you, really I do.

When we first start to lead classes, there is a lot to learn; there is pranayama, asana, philosophy and anatomy. We have to balance the room, the students, the flow and the sequence.

But then, after you get all that under control, you have to figure out you. What makes your offering different? What themes resonate with you? What is your unique message and intention? There are roughly 400-800 postures, depending on who’s counting. How are you going to teach them your way?

The best teachers are the ones who know exactly how they want to inspire their students.

In the end, it is so much easier to be authentic than popular; I finally have this lesson. And if it means that I’m not everyone’s teacher, then I’m okay with that too. I send the students who want something else to other teachers they will enjoy. I don’t teach for them.

I teach for the person who tells me after class, “You changed my practice.”


Now, does this top make me look fat?



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Ed: Bryonie Wise

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