We are now at the halfway point in evolation’s yoga teacher training. Everyone has taught the entire “standing series”; approximately the first half of the 26 posture hatha yoga sequence, where all postures are performed standing, on two legs or one leg, on the floor. Some of us recited near perfect dialogue, delivered with verve and excellent timing; others, like your humble blogger of record, with verve – but rather short on the near perfect dialogue and excellent timing. I did, however, spontaneously invent a splendid addition to the dialogue, “shoot your body through the mirror like a torpedo” which, I am sure, had the effect of immediately elevating my students into a higher plane of consciousness.
What a two weeks! Intense, hard, humiliating, and joyful, funny, inspiring, mind and body stretching in two opposite directions, like a torpedo shooting through the mirror! We all know that yoga teacher training will change us and our lives forever, in fact, we know that we are already changed forever. So what will the next two weeks bring? Well, more of the same, I hope, but perhaps now at a higher level. Some of us have really mastered learning the standardized text and are starting to be able to focus less on mechanics and more on teaching with passion. Others will continue to invent new lines of dialogue like “push up to the ceiling like a thermonuclear explosion”. But even those of us that may need a bit longer to master the text can see the beginning of the path where it becomes real; when we will step in a class and be able to share all the passion that brought us to hot yoga teacher training in the first place.
We have learned and used a process for training teachers throughout which seems so obviously powerful and beneficial that I am surprised (and not surprised) it isn’t employed in every sphere of activity. After a quick search on the internet I see that this is called continuous feedback. Simply, each time someone teaches, whether in teaching practice or in an actual yoga classes, we get together and discuss how the class went.
Obviously, the way that feedback is given is critical, it can’t ever be a dreaded soul-crushing experience for the teacher receiving feedback. Feedback usual starts with the positives – and there are always lots of positives, starting even in the worst cases that you had the guts to get up there and try – and progresses to things that you could work on to do even better next time. It is clear that the objective is always to take you as you are and where you are, whether teaching for the first time or the thousandth time, and to help you to become an even better teacher.
When I have not been to a level where I would have served my students well, feedback has been uplifting and given me encouragement and confidence to keep on trying. When I was at a level where I feel I would have been effective as a teacher it has stimulated me to keep trying to become even better.
Continuous feedback is not unknown in the corporate world, it has even become a part of the new rage in the way computer programming teams work called Agile. But it is still the exception. Reviews are tedious affairs, which almost never serve to improve either the performance of the person being reviewedm or the team overall. When I think back to most of the reviews I have received I remember feeling anger, boredom, and de-motivation. And it is not just me, almost everyone feels that way.
However, continuous feedback is part of the yogic path, yoga is practice, and practice is the process of continuous feedback. The evolation training team, Mark, Zefea, Gary Davis, and many others that have participated in the training, wonderfully embody the yogic ideal in the way that they teach teachers. The way the world does things like evaluate performance now are not working, and we all know it. The world would greatly benefit from a little, or perhaps a lot, of yoga.
I might have been quite down on myself for tons of forgotten dialogue and torpedoes in my standing series, but I got good feedback, felt happy with myself and also had many concrete things to work on which will make me better next time. Practice every day, receive feedback continuously, and you’ll get there, for sure, you will get there.