By Meryl Arnett (@merylarnettyoga)
[Did you catch the first post in this series? Click here to read: The Road to 500…The Starting Line.]
Those who can’t do, teach. This is a statement I’ve struggled with since becoming a yoga teacher. Should a yoga teacher teach something they aren’t good at? Is it my job, as a teacher, to be a superb practitioner or just a superb teacher?
While this is a persistent question for me, my struggle reached a high as I approached my first training module in the Pranakriya 500-hour certification – How to Teach Meditation. Before this training, I was not a meditator. My 200-hour training didn’t include a focus on meditation so my knowledge was limited strictly to what I gleaned through home study. Ten minutes here and ten minutes there doesn’t result in a meditation practice that qualified me to teach.
Thankfully, my group of roughly 15 fellow trainees covered the spectrum of meditation experience, too: some with deep, long-standing practices and others as new and inexperienced as myself. Over five days, we came to the studio, warmed up with a practice, then sat during lecture and discussion. Each day was interspersed with meditations lasting anywhere from 10 – 30 minutes each.
As you might imagine this was both a physical and mental challenge. Physically, sitting crossed legged on the ground for several hours a day is BRUTAL on your hips. It was hilarious trying to explain why I was moaning and groaning after sitting all day, but, trust me, no amount of blankets or bolsters prepares your body for 8 – 10 hours of camping out crossed-legged.
Mentally, this work was eye-opening and sometimes stretched the limits of understanding. We traveled through time to understand various meditation techniques, how they evolved and how they are applicable in today’s world. We tested each of these methods through beautifully led meditations and practiced co-teaching each style with our fellow trainees.
I enjoyed discovering the subtle differences in certain styles of thought and how each could be both relevant and effective depending on the meditator’s situation. I didn’t walk away with a preference for one method over another. Instead, I walked away with an arsenal of options I can select from based on my mood or that of my student’s mood.
On occasion, I still struggle with the practitioner vs. teaching question, but my experiences in teacher training and my personal practice give me confidence. I enjoy being presented the opportunity to incorporate meditation into my teachings these days, especially when I am able to work with each practitioner to develop meditations around the issues they want to explore.
The road trip continues with a pit stop at Functional Anatomy for Yoga Therapists next month. Understanding how to address the physicality of injuries through advanced anatomy and the emotion of injury through meditation has helped my teaching grow in just two trainings. The path to 500 grows ever shorter!