The qualities of a great teacher, part 1


What are the qualities of a great teacher? It's so easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a great teacher must have mastered certain aspects of yoga (or the discipline they teach). Indeed, many people I speak to who would love to become yoga teachers say, “I’m not ready yet, I can’t do handstand in the middle of the room”, or, “I couldn’t be a teacher yet, I don’t practice yoga daily”, or insert your own reason here.

This speaks to a sense that many, if not all of us, have. The sense that we are not enough.  The sense that perhaps a future version of ourselves will be, but we’re not. The trouble is that if we don’t face that sense, chances are that our future selves will have it too. No matter how much we might grow or learn, there will always be some reason we think we’re not good enough, not qualified enough, not ready enough.

When we scratch the surface, we often find that the best teachers teach not because they feel totally confident or totally ‘ready’, but in spite of the feeling that there’s always something more to learn or know or embody. In fact, we might wonder about the person who feels that they know it all, have learnt it all and done it all. For this reason, one of the key qualities of a great teacher is that of studentship.  

Continuing to be a student acknowledges that there is an infinite amount to know about the subject, about ourselves and about other people. It keeps us open to the possibilities of what we might discover and share with others. It keeps us vulnerable, and invites us to our courage, because to be vulnerable and to admit we don’t know it all takes perhaps the greatest courage.

A great teacher doesn’t stand on a pedestal and tell us how it looks from where they stand.  A great teacher doesn’t lead from afar, but walks with us. Perhaps she walks a step or two ahead, but never much more than that.  By remaining a student, and committing to remaining a student, the teacher says that they walk with us.

I feel immensely blessed by all those teachers in my life who teach, even though they don’t feel they know it all. I feel grateful for their courage in teaching from where they are and from what they know, while also acknowledging what they don’t know.  

May you see that your greatness lies as much in what you don’t know and your ability to honour that as it does in what you do know. May you remain in the questions, in the joy and possibility of studentship, while leading and sharing and making your offering. May we all do the same, and walk together in the great mystery of this life.

"Marty (Martin Collyer), along with Inna Bliss owner Amy Wilkinson and partner Riss Carlyon, is one of the three creators and facilitators of our Brisbane 200 hour Yoga teacher training.  Our goal was to bring to the Brisbane market a Yoga teacher training which combined the best of Vinyasa and alignment based postural Yoga, a balanced approach to the history and philosophy of Yoga and a true journey of the transformation so important to becoming a Yoga teacher.  Yoga is our gift and passion, and we feel so blessed to share it with people in this unique course.

 If you’re interested in becoming a Yoga teacher yourself and are based in Brisbane, we welcome your inquiry and any questions you may have about our 2018 intake of our 200 hour yoga teacher training, commencing in early February. Learn more here