Mindfulness teaching for yoga
27th January 2020
Mindfully teaching yoga by Naomi Kent
Why the mindfulness facilitation course will not only equip you to be a better guide to others but will enhance who you are as a person.
I completed Suryacitta’s Mindfulness Facilitation Training Weekend as I felt it could be an added string to my bow as a yoga teacher, with the bonus of getting to spend a couple of days in the comforting Kuti. If you’ve done any type of mindfulness or meditation in that little garden hut in Newtown Linford, you’ll know how much of a safe place it is to feel any or all of your own emotions. And despite this course taking on a different type of learning approach as this is you taking the meditative baton in order to pass it to others, you learn about yourself inadvertently the whole time which can only be a good thing. If you’ve never done any type of course there, you’ll have to take my word for it. It’s a wonderful place.
One recurring theme was how simple the teachings are, both to understand and to action. I wasn’t sure I’d feel equipped after the course to feel I could lead teachings on the subject, but even after day one it was almost unnervingly straight-forward. I remember my first course with Surya, just learning how to sit. That too was unnervingly simple, at times uncomfortably simple, and at others wonderfully simple! So in theory, why should sharing these ideas with others be so different?
The wonderfully simple part of the teaching process, is that actually your brain doesn’t need to enter the room with a million ideas, theories or practices. It can enter the room with one simple idea, that can be gently expanded on throughout a session or course. The uncomfortable or slightly unnerving bit for me personally, is actually the opposite of that! I’ve trained myself to be prepared, have an answer for everything ready-planned, overthink all possible scenarios so I’m equipped to respond to anything that may come up in a situation, so keeping things simple can sometimes be tricky for my nervous over-thinking brain!
Another thing that came up for a lot of us in the room is the concept of silence. Surya starts every practise with silence. I recall my first time in the Kuti, sitting there with everyone quietly looking around, wondering when something was going to happen, wondering how long Surya would sit looking serene while we felt twitchy with the quiet. But that was part of our practise. This time, I settled straight in. But the idea of me being in Surya’s serene spot, while a room full of nervous meditation newbies sat looking at me longing me to speak made me feel straight back to twitchy! Lots of the wannabe teachers on our course had an urge to ease people in gently, make them feel comfortable, as we would in our daily life as keen people pleasers. But as Surya pointed out, we all came back. We all learned how to sit. None of us disliked him, thought him rude. We just learned it was part of the process.
Discussions around dealing with different personalities in the room was fascinating, but even as a participant on the mindfulness facilitation course you could feel how individual’s shared thoughts or opinions helped all of us to learn or explore different ideas. The talks around handling difficult people in a group felt beneficial not only for removing a fear for when I do lead mindful teachings, but also adds a learning experience for teachers and pupils alike. In daily life we deal with difficult people, sometimes walking away thinking they’re a bit of a pain in the rear, and other times perhaps learning something from them. Teaching yoga I’ll have a room full of unique personalities, with their own unique abilities and the discussions on the mindfulness teaching course have helped me to sit comfortably knowing that people will not always take the same from my classes, but they will hopefully take what they personally need.
I feel I’ve been a touch vague in my descriptions of the mindfulness teaching pathway, but I don’t want to spoil the fun for anyone eager to try it. And I also don’t want to reveal just how simple it really is! But aside from surprisingly feeling equipped to share meditation and mindfulness teachings, I learned more about myself. I like to over-complicate, and I go out of my way to fill silences in order for other people to feel comfortable. Or is it to ease my own discomfort? Perhaps both. Since the course I plan to introduce mindfulness teaching to future yoga retreats, and I’ve already sprinkled bits I learned into my yoga classes. I’ve introduced silent pauses, during breathing exercises and during postures. To begin with this felt daunting, and like I wasn’t doing my job properly. But I think I’m actually doing it better. Yoga is a moving meditation, helping the body and mind to feel a little peace - or just to feel a little - and this course has helped me to do and spread a bit of that!
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