Anahata Om Mani Padme Hum - by Gabriela Pomplova
Had quite the magnificent day yesterday. Can you guess why? Well, in part it’s down to some glorious sunshine-y Spring weather and then, uhhh, I’ve been talking an awful lot about yoga lately, haven’t I?
Might’ve also mentioned in a recent post that I’ve been having a little trouble fully getting into yoga teacher mode.
Honestly, it’s been quite confronting for me to step up to the front of the room. The practice classes we did in teacher training were very helpful, and then teaching the volunteer classes has considerably increased my comfort level.
BUT it’s important for me to remember that really, this time last year I was still struggling with depression. I’d rather narrowly overcome to desire to end my own life (this is despite being in yoga teacher training!) and it was only around February 2009 that I’d found a release from the torment of PTSD.
Thing is, that some of those patterns of behaviour stuck around even as I started to feel much better. And they’ve been quite difficult to kick. Because I’ve spent the last five or so years trying to make myself small (tough job when you’re as tall as I am!) and invisible. I’ve grown accustomed to not making eye contact, and avoided drawing attention to myself. It’s how I got through all those years of mind-bendingly awful times. It still feels safe to try to be small and unnoticed, you see.
As yoga teacher training progressed, it dawned on me (doh!) that I’d have to stand up at the front of the room, having all eyes on me and talk people through a yoga class. I also realised I’d have to make eye contact and possibly even physical contact with people I didn’t know!
So my very first attempts at leading a yoga class were hilarious (in retrospect). My voice wobbled all over the place. I couldn’t think of what to say to help transition someone from one asana to the next.
I felt like a fraud.
Who did I think I was, trying to be a yoga teacher? Such a Big Scary Idea!
The feeling of being a fraud has stayed with me, even though there’s plenty of evidence to the contrary. Sure, I organised my volunteer classes – and believe me it took a LOT of effort to make ‘em happen.
But I found myself skimping on preparation time! It was as if I was scared of what it might mean if I was very organised and well-rehearsed. Kinda like I was setting myself up to fail (allowing me to continue to believe I am indeed a fraud!).
Funny thing happened though – somehow I pulled off those under-prepared classes anyway! I still seemed to know what to do and what to say. Of course, because I hadn’t done proper preparation, I told myself that I was still faking it. Perhaps, I’d whisper to myself, I’d just had beginners luck?
Friday night I was terrified as I prepared my lesson plan for Saturday’s class. I started on it late, procrastinating. Which meant I stayed up late to finesse it, making sure I knew exactly what I was doing.
Why all the preparation this time, huh? I was VERY excited to be teaching at Yoga in Daily Life – which is a traditional-style yoga school, akin to my own training. There’s no issue with adding in chanting, meditation or pranayama… that’s just how the school does things anyway (little skip of joy from me!).
There was a small but respectable turn out of five people – one of whom had seen a tweet I’d sent out about the class and came along based on that (cool, eh?).
And there were a few moments in the class where I noticed something… a change in myself. But was it really even a change? It’s hard to say. However, the second I paid attention to it, I almost panicked and lost the yoga teacher groove it seems I’d entered. So I had to relax and let go again… just let it all unfold and stop thinking too much. Just do. Just like with asana.
What happened as a result was this: Some of my students had conditions or injuries they confided in me about. Another asked me a question about the “popping” noise of the joints, which I fluidly replied to. My instructions for asana were smooth, confident sounding and well… a little inspired at times (where DO some of those words come from, eh?). I timed the class very well, and also added five minutes extra on the end to fit in a little more sitting.
The class went VERY, VERY WELL!
As we finished and I chatted to the students, I was amazed as they thanked me for the class. You see, I’m still at the point in my teaching where I feel like thanking them for turning up! Hehehe!
And as I was packing and locking up (after a little impromptu private practice in the empty studio), I found myself both grinning and leaking tears.
I then spent most of the day feeling all joyous and smiley and just… in the zone. What zone is that, anyway??
Well. I think I’ve worked it out… as I taught, my mind wasn’t in charge of the words I was saying… instead, they were flowing from the heart!
This must be something experienced yoga teachers get used to, but I think it was really the very first time for me today. Or at least, the first time I really noticed it and let the flow just do its thing.
I feel so very blessed.
And today I’m going to visit my sweet little nieces. Have a fabulous day everyone!