Teacher vs. Facilitator

This idea I am writing about today isn’t new but it is something that has been clearer to me lately.  The idea of really teaching something, compared to conducting an activity.  Maty (the wise yoga lady I studied under in December) touched on this in her Dharma chats.  She pointed out that there are yoga teachers who really teach poses and look at their students and try to help them, and there are teachers that turn on music and call out poses.  I’ve been struggling with this because I understand the philosophy of staying out of the way sometimes especially with more experienced students, using less words and letting students discover sensations in their body and not being overbearing, but I also think a majority of people that come to their mats in a public yoga class need guidance and most of them want it.  As a teacher it’s easier to call out pose names and facilitate a nice flow and not tell someone in your class that they need to use a prop or modify.  It’s easier to turn on mood-altering music so people don’t have to sit in silence and it’s ‘safer’ to stay out of the way even if you see a crazy-looking chaturanga, because you don’t risk upsetting someone with a correction or an adjustment.


On the other hand I love taking classes that are flowy and fun and where I don’t feel inundated with instruction.  I don’t want to have to ‘think’ so much or feel bossed around and I want to be in my body and I want to feel good.  I understand that strict alignment principles are essential and they help you stay out of your head and in your body, but sometimes I want to organically move and breathe and have permission to undulate my spine like a tribal goddess, ya know?

  I suppose like anything in life there is a balance in a yoga class that has to take place for me as a student (and as a teacher), where I am invited to modify and follow my intuition but also have guidance and a helpful eye, or hand, from the teacher. 

  1. Maile said:

    I think that the best teachers can successfully do both. Alittle guided flow, alittle free-flow, alittle workshop-y and just the right amount of guidance the whole way 😉

  2. I am on the “teacher” side of your discussion. My thoughts are that the student takes what I teach and then does their own practice. They can flow as much as they want then.

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