I think I have found a good analogy for the repression in the yoga teacher training world surrounding teaching methodology. It is like a 1950s parent regarding talking about sex with one’s children: either there are lots of musts and mustn’ts, OR a refusal to discuss the matter at all, believing that when the time comes all will come about naturally without any need for any prior discussion or education in the matter. So, yoga teachers are ambling into classrooms thinking either there is nothing to know about teaching except their subject, or they come with a rigid prescription of how to control the classroom environment absolutely. This is what I would call the patriarchal missionary position of teaching. The teacher decides what is going to be taught, is exacting in requiring the students to follow along with the commands, the teacher comes into the room last, leaves first, and generally cultivates no intimate, authentic relationship with the students (that is except the inappropriate intimacies such power disparity and repression inadvertently breed). He is on a pedestal to which students are not encouraged to aspire. In this type of teaching ethos, neither the teachers nor the students realize there are a myriad of other ways of approaching teaching.

Do we really want yoga teachers who are ill equipped to navigate the subtleties and complexities of facilitating groups of people?

I would like to dedicate more time this year to working with teachers and teacher trainers discussing the magic that can happen when we place ourselves within a circle of teaching and learning – when we come prepared with something to offer, but are open to where the energy of the group takes us – when we cultivate an openness that allows for a co-created journey, and yet assume the responsibility of the facilitator – when we allow ourselves to be equals with the rest of the circle, while understanding the importance of appropriate professional boundaries. Facilitation is a sophisticated art that we can explore in teacher training through implicit approaches like modelling, as well as explicit dialogue discussion around the benefits and challenges of various approaches to issues that arise in the canvas of the classroom.
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