Learning to Learn, Learning to Teach
Now eight segments through the MBS Foundation Course, many MBS students have begun to apply what they’re learning toward teaching their own MBS Group Classes. In addition, many students who work as teachers, instructors and coaches report that their studies with MBS are influencing how they approach completely separate disciplines.
Maxi Roedl, current MBS Foundation student, describes her recent experiences as a yoga instructor:
“I have one class on Wednesdays where I start with a very simple ATM, one that we’ve prepared as a presentation in our MBS evening practice groups. After that, we practice 40 minutes or 50 minutes of easy to follow yoga postures. Participants in that class know it’s simple, easy and pleasant, but even in my other classes, including with my advanced students – some with five years of experience – I use the same MBS principles.
For example, do you know the inverted V position, downward-facing dog? I tell them to bend one knee and then the other, and then to compare the sides. I ask them to feel the contact of the hands on one side and the other, like we do in MBS. Where is more weight? Is it more on one side? Or when we do the side-bending, then which side is easier, if you bend to this side or to that side?
What I’ve stopped completely is saying ‘Do more this, go more there.” I do more, “Feel your neck. Does it really feel nice?” And then, ‘What could you do to make this more pleasant?’ I use this sort of phrasing.
It’s a completely different way of teaching. It’s more about empowering the students’ own resources, rather than giving fixed instructions. It’s not one-size-fits-all.
Of course, I teach the postures and how they’re supposed to be. In the old yoga scriptures from 2000 years ago, the instructions were never written in the way that they typically describe things today, ‘twist the foot and do this and stretch here and have the knee here.’ It had never been like that. It was more like, ‘Come to a sitting position, and turn to the left, turn to the right.’ The focus was not so much on the body, but more on awareness. It wasn’t on ‘relaxation’ at all, but on consciousness and awareness, on increasing your capacity to breathe and on spreading your own life energy. One of the most important Patanjali sutras says that posture should be steady, firm and pleasant.
That’s why I started this training – because you can really use it nicely together with yoga classes. And actually, the yoga school where I first started training, they worked like that. You know, the twist for example, the instruction might have been, “Come back, and how do you feel? Compare both sides. How does this side feel, and how does that side feel? What has changed?” So now, I give fewer instructions. And my students know that we are always looking to expand our possibilities. They love experimenting with playfulness. “What are you coming up with next?” they ask.