You know how it goes, the yoga instructor is all, ''And breathe in as you lift your arms overhead, and out as you lower them''. We all parrot what we hear from our teachers.
Every teacher struggles to find his or her own voice initially. There's a period we use others' voices and phrases until we find our own.
The problem with incorporating others' voices into our own 'yoga-speak' is we may never question what we say and how we say it. You know, I've always said it this way, and it works, kind of thing. It may work for you, as in, you don't have to think about it, but does it work for your students?
There are some obvious, and not-so-obvious, pitfalls to parroting something you've heard a million times before in yoga class.
Here are a couple:
1. You call postures in quick succession, asking everyone to breathe for every single movement, making the class over breathe through intense flows.
2. You make what should be more conscious, unconscious, as you repeat words on autopilot - you're probably on autopilot - your students, ditto.
So, what's to be done? Well, I think being aware of when you say things on autopilot might wake you up, as would doing things and saying things differently every time. This will keep you and everyone on their toes, so to speak.
I think it's a good idea to at least question whether what you are saying is helpful, or another pattern that reinforces patterns. No matter how healthy a pattern is initially, it's a pattern, and repeated patterns eventually lead to stagnation.
As you develop your authentic voice in yoga class (except when that voice is high pitch or like Tom Waits, I guess!), make sure you keep a check on what you are saying, not just how you are saying it. Both the what and the how matter.
I've got a weird-ass voice myself. It took me years to deprogram how I thought I should speak. I'd rather students hear the real me and not some breathy-voice that sounds like an overdub to a porn movie, whilst leaving me out of breath!
It took me even longer to drop phrases that, while sounding great, actually created physical impediments; phrases like 'squeeze your arms into your ribs as you lower'. Ah, no, that is not how you do a proper push up.
Think about where you heard that instruction from. Ask them where they got it from. See if you can track it back to the first person who utter the words. They probably didn't say it that way at all!
And here is, I guess, the main problem with parroting yoga instructions: while the original phrase may have worked in another circumstance, and for whomever it was uttered, the same phrase was probably taken out of context to begin with, and now your doing the same, times a billion.
It's time to find new phrases, ones that come from knowing, a voice that rises from deep within you, in the moment.
Read some more phrases I've dropped when teaching yoga here
Astrologer & Yoga Teacher