Teach to what the hand can hold

Love to what the heart is open to receiving

The first of these was perhaps the most impactful summary saying from my teachers during my 2017 #ytt200 yoga teacher training @YogaFlowSF. The second is my abstracting & re-applying beyond.

The first was spoken in the context of how you as a teacher have a responsibility to adapt your yoga class routine to the levels of the participants in a specific class as a whole, and to individuals based on their existing abilities and openness to learning.

It changes the dynamic from an ego-centered approach of a teacher conveying knowledge to student, to an empathetic focus on observing, listening, and understanding the student(s) first, and adjusting your teachings accordingly to what will best *serve* them, now, today, rather than what you may *want* to teach.

Whether physical poses, philosophy, or assists & adjustments, “Teach to what the hand can hold” has resonated strongly with me, and I’m still learning to keep it in mind when teaching.

Whenever I’ve consciously done so, it has improved the smoothness and unity in the classes I’ve taught, as well individuals I’ve helped and assisted 1:1.

When I find a specific approach that works like that, I tend to reflect on it to try to understand underlying aspects that make it work.

Teaching is a form of self-expression, and by redirecting focus from expression to first observation & understanding in the present, the expression becomes more effective. First what can the other person receive, now, of that what can you teach, and only lastly of that what do you want to teach.

As people are open and able to learn different things at different levels, and differently from different people, differently at different times, so it is with expression of feelings.

Love is so often shown in media and Hollywood narratives as being about expressing your feelings, and taking bold actions accordingly, usually without any consideration for if or what the other person is open to much less what would they want.

As much as love is about caring for someone else more than how it makes you feel (and want to express), one way to express that caring is by observing, listening, and understanding first, how is that someone open to receiving that love, today?

Love to what the heart is open to receiving

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