How introversion helps build skills useful to teaching yoga

This wonderful piece by yoga teacher Duncan Parviainen totally caught me by surprise. I'd never really considered my introversion thru the lens of being a yoga teacher.

Perhaps that's because, despite being an introvert, when I'm teaching I feel so energized by the work of teaching yoga that I forget my generally quiet tendencies and seem to have a good amount to say. And also, despite being an introvert, I really love and am fascinated by people.

Introverts are oriented inwardly. One of the definitions of introversion is "the act of directing one's interest inward or to things within the self." This doesn't mean selfish. It may be more accurate to call this skill "interoception," or the ability to receive stimuli and information from within.

I am going to posit here that introverts feel the subtle changes and messages of body and mind more strongly than extroverts. It's just our natural inclination to look within and examine. I'm also going to posit here that introverts may be slightly more prone to depression, anxiety, and other psychological maladies, or perhaps we are affected differently by these psychological trials than extroverts. Following these hypotheses, then introverts have much to offer in teaching how to flow with fluctuations of the mind-stuff and how subtle signals from the body can be refined into high states of awareness.

Some skills introverts have that may emerge in their teaching:

  • poetic, descriptive language for states of being, feelings, and experiences
  • familiarity with the phasic nature of mood, energy, and affect
  • compassion and sensitivity towards modern-day conditions of overwhelm, burn out, over-stimulation, and stress

Sometimes it's tough being an introvert, especially in a competitive city like NYC. Things that I don't do so well as an introvert:

  • answer the phone
  • do coffee, lunch, dinner dates with people I want to get to know (or even long-standing friends)
  • network
  • make small talk

Needs I have as an introvert that are also useful skills to teach people suffering from stress and overwhelm:

  • rest
  • quiet
  • freedom from stimulation (noise, light, crowds)
  • clearly defined boundaries and/or regular breaks from being in social or group situations

It was refreshing to read Duncan's article on the power of the introvert yoga teacher, to take a different lens on some of the benefits introversion gives us. As yoga teachers, we are dealing with the inner landscape. This familiarity with the inner world and our ability to observe ourselves helps when it comes to teaching things like meditation or witness consciousness. So thanks, Duncan, for an added perspective on life as an introvert (and yoga teacher)!