some thoughts on mentoring.jpg

On Mentoring:

Often teachers, especially those who have been teaching for longer feel anxious about admitting they need mentoring….it’s almost like they believe it will make them look weak and inexperienced. I reality I tend to find that the teachers who get the most out of mentoring – are in fact those who have been teaching the longest. They have been through various cycles of teaching, are more intune and are ready to be that bit more honest.

Mentoring should not be a one way street, it really should not be all about asking a question and receiving an answer, this is way two dimensional and just doesn’t work as it is not about the growth of the individual and doesn’t give people time to delve into the necessary psychological repercussions of teaching which actually require a great deal of self-enquiry and reflection. Asking questions is important, receiving answers is important but it’s not necessarily where I’m going with mentoring….

Mentoring is missing from yoga teacher training in respect of the fact that it absolutely should be ongoing post training…but it isn’t. You get your qualification and then in general it stops. If you’re lucky you might make a few friends who you can bat ideas off but that’s about it. From that point on you’re generally on your own….it’s really only a matter of time until you go through a burn out. It’s ridiculous to think you can avoid this when you are not actually trained to handle your own therapeutic process – let alone that of your students!

I believe that all teachers go through many cycles of teaching. Ever spiralling cycles of feeling okay, feeling great, feeling awful, feeling insecure, feeling ill, feeling concerned….and so on. These cycles vary depending really on how many years you have been teaching but really they all have common threads. You will always go through them, that much is a fact. However, what stops you from reaching burn out is understanding the psychology of teaching. When I mentor teachers I want them not to necessarily look at ‘how they teach or what they teach’ but what is happening within them when they teach. This kind of work is key in breaking the cycle.

It is tough work. Very gritty and demands honesty and courage. I often turn teachers away from mentoring simply because I realise they are not at a stage where they feel strong enough to do the necessary work. It is one of the reasons I stopped doing drop ins and created a 6 month programme.

The results speak for themselves. If you are able to stand in your power when you teach and by that I mean face your demons, understand what brought you to teaching, that the practice of teaching IS a practice and a healing one at that and ultimately break down what you are processing before, during and after a class you will start to become a much more creative, authentic and at ease teacher. It’s as simple as that. The work is not simple.

But if you do this work, your classes will fill as a result. This is not the aim of mentoring and I don’t promise it because I’m not offering mentoring for that reason – but it is a very lovely by-product. The aim of the mentoring I specifically offer is for you to be free and for you to begin to enjoy your teaching – not just pretend to enjoy it. Teachers often tell me they feel great after a class, on a high – like this is a positive thing. Is it? What is going on here….. ?

Just a couple of weeks after our mentoring weekend I am getting messages like this….This makes me so happy, not because her class is full but because I know what she went through to get to this point and I know that something is being broken down.

Thanks Nighean for the quote and photo (x)

“Tipping my hat to my teachers @naomiabsalom @anamurieljiva @kristimaeyoga this morning. Teach from a place of truth and authenticity they said and your classes will fill. Er, hello full -to-the-rafters Monday morning class! 21 beautiful souls in class this morning….”

Sarah Jeffs