Photo by Michael O’Neill
Five new students came for today’s yoga class. They were young, around fourteen to sixteen years old, and they were beginners. Freja’s daughter invited some of her friends over for yoga and I was honestly quite apprehensive about teaching them. I’m apprehensive about teaching young people because I know that they can sometimes be impatient and they often prefer something more of a workout than a true yoga practice. Yoga, especially a true, traditional yoga practice, isn’t typically appealing to most millennials. Freja’s daughter assured me that her friends going to be fine if I teach them traditionally, and she was actually right. Freja’s daughter isn’t a yogi, but she invited her friends over because they want to try it out. All of them were still beginners, but four of them have already tried a couple of “yoga” classes (they didn’t teach pranayama, so obviously it was fitness “yoga”) while the other girl hasn’t taken any at all.
Like I said, I’m quite apprehensive when teaching young people, because I don’t exactly know how to make them interested. Shall I change my traditional teaching style into something more “modern” and fun and less actual yoga? I do want to keep their interest and get them to come back or continue their practice, but I personally find it rather unethical if I were to just become another modern day “yoga” teacher and sell myself out.
I consulted with Freja as to what I’m supposed to do. Her daughter said that her friends will probably be fine with traditional yoga, despite the “weirdness”, the Sanskrit, and the philosophies. Still, I can’t imagine another scenario like the last time when I tried teaching a class to young people. Freja simply told me to teach them the way I teach every other yoga class, because I have to be authentic; not only authentic in the sense that I’m teaching yoga authentically, but even I have to be authentic. I can’t teach a class in a certain way if my heart isn’t fully into it, and she’s right. In some ways, ethics itself isn’t even the sole problem, I have to teach them traditionally and meticulously to prevent them from getting injured. Most modern day yoga classes put less emphasis on the principles like ahimsa which help prevent the practitioner from injuring himself/herself. Even though this traditional style of teaching isn’t “mine” per se, the majority of most teachers nowadays don’t teach yoga traditionally anymore, therefore when I teach yoga authentically, it somehow has become “my” style that sets me apart from most teachers.
Overall, the session went great. They said they liked it and found it fun, so hopefully I can teach them again if I have the chance. It didn’t end up like the last time, and they were all fine with my constant (constructive) criticisms and attention to detail. Although they could be lying… I guess I should just take their word for it. I doubt they will turn their lives around and become a serious yogi though, but who knows? I will be happy for them if they do.
Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair