Last month I took my Junior Intermediate Level 2 assessment in the Iyengar Yoga teaching system. It was an intense day of practice and teaching in front of 3 senior teachers and with students that I had never seen before. Unfortunately I didn’t pass this time but was given some clear feedback to work with. Initially I felt quite angry and dejected and it brought up insecurities about not being a “good enough” teacher. On reflection, I think it is more to do with how comfortable I felt in my role as an Iyengar Yoga teacher on that day. I’ve been teaching now for about 6 years and in that time have had many different challenges in my teaching practice. Not least the challenge of constantly asking myself whether my students are making progress in their practice.
How do you see whether your students are progressing? Is it about how well they follow instructions? Is it about whether they can stay in headstand for longer? For me, I look at whether my students are growing in confidence in their asana practice. Are they able to penetrate more deeply in a shorter amount of time? We may only work on 3 or 4 asanas in some classes but in some depth. Iyengar yoga is known for the amount of scaffolding and detailed instruction given to help you achieve the benefits of the asanas. However, surely we should be aiming to help students work from within to develop an internal understanding of the practice?
In London there are countless yoga classes, countless yoga teachers and “styles” available. There are some days when it feels like a challenge to even convince people that it’s worthwhile doing a good shoulderstand. I know that I will continue to grow as a teacher and am fortunate to have a great teacher who offers regular teacher development opportunities. Next time I face an assessment, hopefully I will have a bit more steadiness and will feel more comfortable in my role as an Iyengar Yoga teacher.
Having not passed an assessment, I can appreciate how you feel. My students were the ones who kept me going when I had feelings of dejection and anger. The assessment process is such a mind game unfortunately. At one point I had to ask myself what I would really benefit from in getting the next level. I am still trying to figure that question out. Be kind to yourself Guy, most of your students probably don’t give a rip what level you are, they probably just find benefits in whatever you teach them that class. Regards, Michael.
Sorry to hear that you didn’t succeed in passing your assessment. As one of your students before heading off to Australia I can say with great confidence that you are a fantastic teacher and an inspiration to your students. What I really enjoyed about the iyengar community in London was the interchange between student, teacher and the amount of detail in the Asana instruction and demonstration which since coming to Australia I seriously miss. I always found your teaching clear, precise and helpful.
Thanks Patrick. It’s good to hear that you’re keeping up a practice over there in Australia. I hope the move went well. If you can track down Pixie Lilas she is a great teacher.