We do not become yoga teachers just by taking yoga teacher training or getting yoga teaching certification. Being a good yoga teacher is more than knowing the body, postures and giving instructions to students.
An important aspect of a good yoga teacher development program is the implementation of feedback among the teachers. This is an opportunity for each of us to offer suggestions and impressions of one anothers classes. This has sparked some intriguing discussion as to the benefits of feedback, how it works, and what we can learn from it.
Most of us arent necessarily in relationships where we might often sit down with a friend, family member, or romantic partner and review how we are doing. Yet there are many times in our daily life where others ask us what we are thinking. We might keep quiet, perhaps out of fear of confrontation. We could also view this as an opportunity to feed each other back.
Its been said that feedback is the breakfast of champions. By feedback, what I mean is the giving of caring (ahimsa) and honest (satva) information as an offering to a friend and colleague that might be helpful in their own personal or yoga teaching growth process.
What feedback doesnt mean is: criticizing from a place of reaction or non-helpful intention. It doesnt mean requesting someone to change a unique aspect of what they share or offer, or changing their style or character because its different from the way you teach. There is no requirement for the recipient of the feedback to agree with or implement the information.
The purpose of feedback is to help us all become the best yoga teachers, friends, colleagues, community, and society members we can be, while supporting our own individuality. The opportunity to give and receive feedback is unique; most relationships in our world are not based on mutual agreements to challenge one another to reach our higher potential. Yet, when given the chance to offer something valuable, why not offer in a way that enables all of us to continually learn, grow, evolve, and become better communicators?
What is the best way to receive feedback? Ask for it. We are a natural resource for each other so why not tap into that resource? Not only will we grow tremendously from giving each other feedback, but the quality of the service we offer will increase, which benefits the entire world.
What is the best way to give feedback? Come from a place of respect and honoring. Proceed with the understanding that we all have gifts to offer. Start with something positive ⎯ what the person does or did well. Then, with ahimsa in mind, we offer what the person might do better.
Very few people can actually reach their full potential on their own; we all need help from the people that care about us. This is the same reason that students come to yoga class.
When giving feedback:
1. Ask the other person if they would like to receive feedback. Ask them when and where they would like to receive it.
2. Keep it short and simple.
3. Start with at least one thing they are doing well, something you like about the way they teach yoga. Then say at least one thing they could do even better.
4. Start with a positive, and then offer up what skills they might improve upon.
When receiving feedback:
1. It is best to actively seek out feedback, to ask for it. Not only does it demonstrate our desire to learn and grow, it makes it easier for each of us to give feedback.
2. Listen. You dont have to agree. You dont have to do anything with the information, but it is a chance to improve something that might not be working.
If someone says that they cant hear me in a class, I want to know that. If I use language that people dont understand, I need to know about it because
I want to do my best and reach everyone. If I learn that the sequencing I use doesnt feel good to someone, I need to know that too.
It is possible that my sequencing was something specific for that one person and for most of the class it was fine, at least I have the opportunity
to consider the information, play with it myself and ask others about it.
3. Thank the giver. It takes courage to offer feedback. Its an act of generosity.
Part of the value of feedback is that it strengthens our bond with another individual. It reminds us that we are all committed to giving our best.
The more we do that, the better we serve those who come to us, and the greater our rewards will be on many levels.