I had an amazing experience this weekend on a yoga course I attended.
Let’s cover the course first. Because it really is amazing. It’s called Sunday School Yoga, created by Michael James Wong and Emily-Clare Hill, and is a course built for new yoga teachers like me, people who are looking to find their way in teaching from a place of confidence, truth and strength. (DISCLAIMER: I am not leaving the HR world for yoga folks, just loving the synergy of operating in both spaces).
Given most of you guys aren’t yoga teachers, the contents of the course (however awesome) is not what this post is really about. It’s about the platform for learning that they created, and the wonderful learning experiences that unfolded because of this. And that’s something that I think we all can learn from. Especially us HR’ish types.
Day one of the course I left knowing the name of and caring about all 20 people that had been in the room with me. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that before. There’s usually a handful of likeminded people you gravitate towards and you make them your crew quite early on. In this case though, it really was as if everyone was in my crew.
There was no comparison, no jealousy, just a group of humans who were 100% rooting for one another. And no, it’s not because we were all yogis (though that may have added to it) – humans instinctively react to one another in certain ways, no matter how evolved we might be. What was there instead was total trust, which meant total honesty and vulnerability from us all.
So how did they do it?
- By asking us to introduce ourselves, bring an offering of fruit to the group, and asking to share something real about why we were there, why we teach yoga, what we felt about being there, and what we hoped to achieve.
- They gave us all something silly that represented our spirit animal.
- By asking us to draw a picture that represents who we are and asking us to stand up and explain it to everyone, like grown up ‘show and tell’.
Let’s break that down:
Standing up in front of a group to introduce yourself makes it more real, more memorable. Offering something to the group enables you to feel like you have something to give, even in a situation when you might feel like you are slightly out of your depth, it helps you to feel empowered.
Asking us to share some of our feelings about being there, teaching etc. gave us all a human voice, and enabled us to realise that most of us felt the same way as each other; vulnerable, nervous, a little out of our depth but excited and committed nonetheless.
So what was created there was an immediate connection. Taking us beyond the confines of our own sense of self and enabling us to connect to the people around us.
Part two was about breaking the mood, giving us something fun to think about, making us feel important and valued, by the mere fact that they had cared enough to give us a little welcome gift (rather hilariously, mine was a dog named Rufus, chosen at random; a legitimate nickname of mine from different people over the years. It was brilliant).
Then in part three, by asking us to draw something that represents us, it kind of unleashes the inner child. It was fascinating to see how different people interpreted that and the things that they chose to share about themselves. Explaining ourselves to one another in this way, and sharing a little part of what makes us who we are, or what is going on on the inside, meant that we were taken to an even deeper level of understanding of one another, and in turn, a deeper sense of connection. It was a great feeling. Like a bunch of school children proud to display their homework project.
The platform that these simple things created, took us to a deeper level that we were then able to build the foundations of our course (and our relationships with one another) from. Simple but profound.
I’d love to hear from anyone who is in learning and development (or otherwise) about the things that have worked for them before, and whether they have experienced being able to truly establish a similar platform for learning in such a short space of time.
And in the meantime, any budding yoga teachers out there, check out what the SSY guys are up to. It will probably be the best investment in your yoga career you will ever make.