Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Spirit of a Teacher

This weekend I had the pleasure to help lead a series of SilverSneakers workshops. SilverSneakers is a fitness program for active older adults that includes cardio, strength training and even yoga.  I always enjoy these workshop weekends because most of the instructors you meet are eager and willing to learn. Even if they've been teaching fitness classes for years, they become students once again for a few hours. After the weekend of training, they go back to their fitness center refreshed, renewed and excited about teaching all over again.

Except, every once in a while, there will be the student sitting in the back of class with her arms folded, a bored look on her face and checking the time every five minutes. More often than not she's the one who's been teaching fitness for twenty years and is there only because she needs continuing education credits to renew her certifications.

It doesn't matter how up-to-date the training manual is or what new medical benefits of exercise I can share, her mind is closed. She already knows it all.

Except, she doesn't. None of us do.

The Bhagavad Gita says When you go to a teacher saying "I know a little bit, can you add a little more?" or "I know, but can you verify it?" you are just going to check your capabilities, not to learn anything new.

You're going because you need those CEC's. You have predetermined there is nothing new for you to learn.

The Gita goes on  If you want to learn, go empty and open. "I'm an empty cup; please pour in all you can." If you go with a cup already full, even if the teacher pours something good, where will it go? It's not that he or she is miserly, the teacher would like to pour, but it will overflow and go to waste. So empty your cup.

It's an honor to call ourselves teachers. Our students look to us for answers, so it's our duty to be sure we are educated and continue to study our chosen path. But it's also important to remember how to be a student. To remember to empty our cup every once in a while.

The best teachers I've studied under were the most humble. They were quick to knock themselves off any pedestal I put them on and always gave credit to those who taught them. 

Yoga tradition is passed down from teacher to student. There is always someone ahead showing the path, and someone behind waiting for you to show them the way. 

It's the spirit of a teacher. To carry on the passing of knowledge. 


  1. Lovely. So true-- pour out to pour in.
    Fill me up!!
    : ) xo

  2. Beautiful Post! and it came from a great teacher!

  3. One place where I teach they do Silver Sneakers training. Bummer I can't go this upcoming one because it sounds fantastic!

    loved this post... so many lessons here!

  4. I am currently an out-of-the classroom middle school teacher (but going back in the classroom next school year) and I do a lot of professional development for teachers. Your post resonated with me. I can't tell you how many teachers I see who walk into trainings already closed up. The trick is to try to inspire someone to empty their cup a little. As much as sometimes I'd like to just knock their cup and splash a little out, they have to empty it themselves.

  5. Great Post.
    And I think that you are an awesome teacher

  6. Lovely words! I am so happy that I can join your yoga path.