Four Steps to Deepen Your Personal Yoga Practice and Become a Yoga Teacher With Depth:
Step #1: Be Inquisitive & Expand Your Options
Mainstream yoga focuses on the postures. However, the potential scope of yoga is far more encompassing. A individual yoga practice is essential to your success as a student and a teacher.
I suggest expanding your options and be open to learning about other yogic modalities. Personally, I feel drawn to personal yoga practice that is rooted in tradition and I offer students the full scope of methodologies.
After some exploration into the deeper, often ignored world of yoga, you might realize that what you really want is to be an ayurvedic practitioner and help people with nutrition and lifestyle rather than teach asana classes. You may find that you really resonate with bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), or want to emphasize meditation in your personal practice. Yoga has so much more to offer beyond the poses.
There are many possible ways you could ‘do yoga’ in the world.
Step #2: Find and Learn From a Teacher You Resonate With
You can read my in depth thoughts on the ethos of being a teacher, but I thought I would share some of the most essential aspects here as well. Not all teachers are equally knowledgeable. Some teachers will leave a much greater impression than others.
The teacher is there to guide the student on a journey from misperception to seeing themselves and life more fully. They provide a living, embodied example of yogic principles and are also knowledgeable about the particular methodologies that best suit each student (including asana). Of course the student is responsible for doing work, the teacher simply provides guidance.
In assessing a teacher see that they have a seasoned understanding of the various methods and also demonstrate a regard for the greater welfare as opposed to just themselves. Personally, having a teacher who is deeply attuned to the spiritual aspects of yoga is essential.
What is it that you are looking for in a teacher?
Step #3: Be A Dedicated Student
We believe that effective teaching is rooted in being a dedicated student. Teaching then becomes an organic extension of your committed practice.
To say it another way: if you aren’t a dedicated student you have no chance of becoming a teacher with depth. Your personal practice is the foundation for the house of your teaching.
Of course this same line of thought also pertains to your personal relationship with yoga. If you practice on a daily basis your mind and body will seamlessly adapt to a more complete version of yourself. It will happen naturally.
Regularity is the key. Practicing a little each day, or on a regularly scheduled occasion is more effective than “stop and go.” Consistent practice builds momentum over time and eventually takes on a life of its own.
Developing a personal yoga practice is a little bit like growing a tree, at first you have to be very diligent to make sure it gets enough water, nutrients and sunlight. You may also have to put some kind of barrier around it to prevent it from getting stepped on or eaten by insects. Eventually the tree comes into its own, is able to fend for itself, provides shade, fruit and intrinsic beauty.
Being a dedicated yoga student entails both regular practice and natural curiosity. As you learn and apply new methods and self reflect on their effect, you discover how to shape your experience of life towards one of less fear and towards more joy.
I suggest that students build a dedicated practice and find delight in it also.
Step #4: Create a Strong, Deep, Personal Practice
Dedication is an attitude. Your personal practice is the laboratory in which to apply the attitude. Like any craft, the more time you spend with it the further you progress. If you want to master the violin, you need to practice. If you want to get better at painting, then practice. The same applies to yoga. The only way to receive the benefit is by regular practice. In order for the practices to work you have to do them.