Recently I taught the teacher trainees in Charm City Yoga’s low residency program. My segment had to do with Protecting Yourself Energetically as Teacher. Many of you reading this may find it strange that you would need to be protected as a Yoga Instructor. After all, all Yoga teachers are happy, healthy, perfectly in-balance, they don’t even need coffee (biggest lie going). However, from the energetic perspective when you are holding the space for others to heal and let go (i.e. controlling the place where others are practicing) protective energetic boundaries for the teacher becomes important.
I want to talk for a minute about the idea of boundary – boundary does not mean armor. Boundaries can be breached, they are permeable. I think of a boundary, when I am teaching like a force field, in fact I imagine myself radiating white light numerous times during the classes I instruct. I feel that that radiation makes me a creature of the light to my students – one they can trust and respect – but also protects and keeps my energetic boundaries safe.
Okay, so what is this energy stuff all about? Eastern Philosophy teaches us that we are all interconnected; that we are all in fact one. Science for a long time pushed the idea of individuation but recently (and this is mind-blowing stuff) scientists have discovered a subset of our neurons known as “mirror neurons” , also called “Gandhi neurons”. These neurons hardwire us for empathy. So basically, if you see someone getting punched there is a part of your brain that says “ouch” and another part that hears your skin receptors say: “don’t worry, its not you.” But where are the skin receptors for emotion? How do you know, when your brain begins to mirror someone else’s feelings that they are not in fact yours? Fascinating, right?
Have you ever noticed that when you go to the mall that you feel completely drained? How about being around someone who is angry? Do you find yourself getting angry? Next time you feel a heady emotional shift, take a moment and ask yourself: “Is that really me? Is that really how I feel? Or, am I absorbing the emotion of someone else?” The answers in all seriousness may truly surprise you.
So as a Yoga Teacher when you ask your students to release and as their Teacher you go walking through energy soup it is important to remember where you end and others begin. Not because what they are letting go of is bad, energy is not really good or bad; energy is energy, just as sensation either in pain or pleasure is really just sensation all the same.
Every time I teach, I enter after my students. I give myself a moment, I ground myself, take a few full and complete breaths and then I imagine a beautiful glass of white light in front me. I then imagine drinking the glass of white light and allow it to heal and clear me from the inside out. Once I glow, I enter the room, and offer up my knowledge to those in attendance.
In October I will be teaching a three day workshop on the Energetic Aspects of Teaching. I would love it if you could attend.