The Essence of Yoga Teaching: Skill or Connection?

Danny Arguetty
The Essence of Yoga Teaching: Skill or Connection?

One of the perils of being involved in training yoga teachers, coupled with the fact of being a Virgo, is that I notice everything as I take a class. While there is a wide range of diversity and belief in how a yoga class can be guided, there are also elemental base skills which are either present or sometimes missing from a teacher’s repertoire.

The other day I attended a class with a teacher who was missing some of what I consider as important skills: little intelligence in the sequencing of the flow, flyby hands on assists, a lack of connection to breath and movement, and countless language habits which are the equivalent of radio static constantly buzzing in the background.

It's All About Essence

What I found interesting was the fact that I wasn't having a huge reaction. I didn't want to run out of the room and my mind wasn't obsessing about the dripping tap of less than ideal techniques present in my awareness.

After the class ended, the energy in the room was very sweet and connected. People genuinely thanked the teacher for a great practice, and although technically it wasn't my favorite yoga experience, I didn't feel any resentment.

When I took some time to reflect on how this was possible it hit me; at the end of the day it's all about essence. While I can support a teacher in refining their skill-sets and improving their technique, what I can't do as easily is shift the core of their being.

Essence versus Form

Our internal substance is built through life experience, awareness, growth in relationship, hardships, and in the process of self-development.

It's why I'm so passionate about the idea of "Living Yoga", as putting on the outer mask of yoga is not the same as choosing to engage with the teachings and practices which help us evolve on a deeper level.

Particularly in our culture, the conversation of essence vs. form is vitally important. In so many ways we are encouraged to invest in everything outer, as we cast the appearance of confidence, beauty, and self-worth. But what really resides inside?

When we become sensitive enough, it becomes easier to feel when someone's core is out of sync with what they are pretending to project. It's like a flavor — either sweet or sour.

While I truly appreciate attending a yoga class with a teacher who has refined their skills, the truth of the matter is that I would choose a more connected yoga teaching essence and less skill, versus no connection and grand skill...every time around.

Our essence is truly the backbone, root, core, and heart, which transforms something basic into a nourishing experience. Absolutely priceless!