Most of us have been to at least one yoga class in our lives. If you’ve been to a class you have likely seen a teachers mat placed at the helm of the class in which they post up and demo throughout, if not most of the class.
So it has become a usual occurrence and a natural expectation for students to ask “where will you be?” when setting up in the studio for a class.
I have found that because of this students are “put off” when my answer is “I’ll be everywhere.”. I usually have to further explain that I in fact do not place a mat down or practice with students. Rather, I walk around and sometimes sit idle so that I might fully focus on the movement of the class and see students' individual alignment. I’ll go further later, but it is much more than just that.
" sometimes the energy/ the pulse in the class is too hard to resist ..."
Demoing is something teachers, especially newer teachers lean on for multiple reasons. A few being, demonstrating helps them remember their sequence, it helps them recall the alignment, and it helps to remind them how the pose feels. Otherwise, teachers might demonstrate more difficult or complicated poses to make them easier to understand. Or sometimes the energy/ the pulse in the class is too hard to resist and you join in on the flow.
Whatever the reason, demoing for every class, most of the time can create dangers for full-time teachers. Don't worry, we won't go there right now!
When I first began teaching, being so eager, leading over 10 classes a week in my first year I quickly realized the toll teaching took on my physical body, not to mention my mind - but we will get into that later.
Students do not often consider what goes into creating a yoga class, much less teaching one. They are not aware of how many classes a week teachers lead, not including private sessions or their personal practice. Not to mention the work that goes into creating an hour class. The sequence, pace, music, the intention; there's a lot.
Over the years students often ask how many classes a week I teach, only to be stunned by the amount of time spent in front of a class. “When do you have time to practice?!” is usually their immediate response. Then I laugh, if you’re a yoga teacher you know why.
Teaching can be extremely taxing, physically, mentally, and emotionally. And if you teach frequently and consistently it can feel all consuming. But I digress…
The most important thing for students to understand about why a teacher does not demonstrate is because a teacher needs to look at YOU. The teacher is t
here for the students’ practice, there to support a deeper understanding of each individual's body; or at least attempt. How can a teacher offer adjustments if they can not see you? How do they see you if they are practicing with you?
Most yoga teacher's intentions are to offer an opportunity that allows students to access and or review parts of their body and practice each time they come to the mat. The teacher's main focus is to help cultivate a students practice and offer a further investigation of your personal alignment.
So the “taxing” toll it takes on the yoga teacher aside, having a yoga teacher that does not demo will likely take your practice further than it would if you spent years simply “mimicking” poses vs. truly understanding how they feel to YOU and your body. It will in fact require patience from both the teacher and the student and that is why it’s called a practice.