Believe in the Unseen
A yoga teacher and mentor once told me, “it’s easy to see what is going on in our student’s bodies, but much more difficult to tell what is going on in their minds."
I think for most of us teachers, we’re in this profession to get our students to those deeper layers. We’ve experienced this depth in our own practice, we know its power — and we want nothing more than to share it.
But how do we know that our instruction is facilitating this excavation process in our classes? For after all, as my first mentor mused, we cannot always know the unraveling of our student’s inner experiences.
Perhaps we can, sometimes — if they feel so inclined to share with us. And when they do, there is nothing quite like the teachers glow we wear.
Catching a glimpse of our student’ internal process is one of the most satisfying aspects of our profession. But as teachers, we cannot rely on this for proof that our work is, in fact, working.
I believe that part of our work as instructors is to trust and know that yoga is working in the lives of our students whether they tell us it is or not. Even amongst the students who show up once and we never see them again, can we still trust that yoga has done the work it was supposed to do for them? Can we trust that if even only a single layer is peeled back, it was exactly the layer that our class was supposed to expose?
One of the most profound lessons that I have learned from my own practice is that even when I feel that my inner progress is stagnant, it isn’t. Even when I spend days, weeks, or even months feeling completely disconnected, simply by showing up and doing the work on my mat, yoga also does its work on me.
I believe this same lesson applies for our teaching and to our students. As teachers, we show up to the practice room to do our work. And our students show up to do theirs.
From this point all we can do is take a step back, detach ourselves from any expectation of what our teaching will do for our students, and trust that it is doing exactly what it needs to be doing.
We may not be able to see what is going on in the hearts and minds of our students, but perhaps we aren’t supposed to. After all, believing isn’t always about the seeing. And as teachers, it is our job to believe in the unseen, and to teach our students how to do the same.