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Teaching Tips: How to get out of Automatic Pilot

This weeks teaching tip comes from Kinndli McCollum, Senior Baptiste Teacher and co-owner of Power Yoga Canada. kinndli and rocco In your teaching, do you ever: Feel like you're bored with the sequence? Feel like you say the same thing in every single class? Feel like you're in a "rut"? Feel like people aren't listening to what you are saying? Feel like you need to get creative with the sequence? Feel like you need music to get people excited? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you could be dealing with a serious case of automatic pilot in your teaching. This means that you are just going into the studio and teaching what you always teach. Right foot forward. Warrior One. Press down through your left heel. Spread your fingers. Chatarunga. Exhale. Sound familiar? The first step in getting out of auto pilot is awareness. You have to acknowledge and admit that you are stuck without getting down on yourself about it. It’s natural at times to think that you need to get creative with the flow or put music on to keep students interested. When you feel these symptoms coming on, the work isn't in trying to change everything and everyone around you. It's in looking inside with a deeper inquiry and doing more work on yourself. If you're on automatic pilot and you just keep teaching AT your students, there is no room to hear what you are saying and see if it's landing. You are operating from a place that leaves no room for the Art and Mastery of Baptiste yoga: Observe. Listen. Give Tools. We can all fall into it at times in our teaching. The question is, how do you remedy it? It requires presence and space. GET PRESENT Pause and look around the room. See what you see. Speak to the human bodies that are in front of you, not to the class that is going on in your head. Say a cue or call a pose. Pause again. Hold space. LISTEN TO THEIR BODIES In the pause, see if the cue landed in your students bodies. Really watch: did it land? You want to see your words create a shift in their bodies. GIVE TOOLS If your cue did not land, try saying it in a different way. When you get bored with your teaching, get creative in how you say things, not in the poses of the flow. By observing, listening and giving tools, your teaching becomes a conversation with your students bodies. These three tools are a simple and effective way of shifting gears in your teaching. Instead of talking at your students, you have a conversation with them. You observe their bodies speak back to you and continue to give tools as you move through the flow. To get out of auto pilot you simply have to make an inner shift from teaching for yourself to teaching for others. It is when you come out of yourself and shift your intention in your teaching to be FOR your students, that magic happens. This is when, even in a room full of people, your students feel truly seen.

yoga is the art of listening

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Just found this kinndli!amazing and thank you!

Lynda Richard on May 17, 2017

Fantastic article! Love the insigt and inspiration in connecting with students. What are some examples of “getting creative with how we say things” when we are in a verbal rut? This is where I feel stuck as a teacher.

Kelli on April 24, 2015

As someone who takes classes at a Baptiste-inspired studio, I have noticed that the classes can be quite samey. The order in which we execute the poses isn’t the same each time, but it seems we cover the same poses and there is little creativity beyond the core set of poses. I also take classes with Kathryn Budig via YogaGlo, and while she is not a Baptiste teacher, her flows can be brisk and are extremely creative – very different than my Baptiste classes. For a long time I just assumed this was the nature of the Baptiste style, but after reading this article I wonder if it more about the teacher than the style. Can anyone shed some additional insights? Thanks!

radbirdz on April 24, 2015

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