In yoga classes and meditations often the teacher asks you to ‘open your heart’, to see the good in everyone, to ‘realise that we are all one’ and ‘to develop love and compassion for all around you’. One very important remark that has to be noted when reflecting upon these statements is that while opening your heart we are not asking you to ‘become a doormat’, meaning that you should not just be doing anything for everybody.
Opening your heart and developing the inner urge of wanting to teach and help others goes hand in hand with being very confident and developing a health self esteem. Don’t let others walk over and on you as then you cannot be of any help to anyone.
Truly opening your heart means understanding what the other person needs which is an important skill for a yoga teacher, and for any teacher actually. It requires you to recognise where your student is at, in terms of mental, emotional and of physical state and it requires you to being able to respond and work with that. This means that you can push some students to go a little deeper in a pose, to confront that a little more with their own self destructing emotions. For others this means urging them to step back, to take it a little more easy on themselves.
With some students you need to use more academic language and arguments as they might have been raised in a society that appreciates science and for others you might want to use more esoteric explanations in order to make a point. But in order to being able to respond to others you need to take care of yourself and assure that you are balanced and energetic. So open your heart, give yourself love first and then go out there and share with others in a way that benefits that individual in his or her specific situation.