How to Teach Yoga to the Unteachable

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A friend of ours is doing some important work, teaching people to form a better relationship with stress, food, and health. And she wrote recently about hitting a wall.

Sometimes what we see in the people we try to help isn’t what they see in themselves. Sometimes what they see is that how they are is how they are. Not working. Not healthy. Not feeling so good. But not changeable. That’s just how I am.

It’s something we all run into so much – with friends, family, people we work with, even in different parts of our selves. What do we do when someone really needs help, we’re so sure of what needs doing, and so distant from getting it done?

It’s something I’ve wrestled with since my very short and very unsuccessful time as a counselor at an inpatient clinic. What I’ll share here is what I wish I had done 20 years ago, and still trip up on today.

If you want to help, then help. Directly. Avoid teaching or talking too much. Instead, do something.

Here’s a good start. Always begin in your self, then share. Connect body and breath together as one thing. Let this connection become movement. Stay easy, move everything, everywhere.

This “everything everywhere” part is important. It means bringing your whole self into what you do. It means growth and expansion. It means this isn’t just do what feels good. It’s do what feels good in a way that leads to progress in what you’re able to do. We all need to grow and expand. We all need to get better together.

Progress can happen from the inside here, in each person, in their own way, in their own time. And it will feel to you more like gently pulling people along, and less like bulldozing against walls. So really it might feel better on both sides.

The key here is being this way in you – moving well, peaceful, in harmony – rather than entering too much of a teacher-bulldozer mode. Which is really extremely tough, especially when you know the right answer.

Maybe something that helps is to remember that knowing can be so far distant from doing. So it’s not really knowing that we should get excited about. We need to put it in our bodies, our wiring, our being. Because knowing doesn’t unwire the habits that don’t work for us. Moving does.

Knowing doesn’t unwire the habits that don’t work for us. Moving does.

So there’s work to be done. And the practice is really the same for us as it is for the people we’re trying to teach. Breathe deep. Connect your body with your breath. When the door opens, move from here.