Meant to be at a yoga class tonight, but woke up this morning with a VERY unhappy neck. Must’ve slept funny because all the muscles down the left side were violently protesting at pretty much any sudden movement. It’s the sort of pain that can’t be solved via yoga alone, or at least not quickly enough to be able to function in any meaningful capacity. There was a whole day of work to get through, so I took the only course of action that seemed reasonable: muscle relaxants.
Generally speaking I’m not interested in pain killers but without those round yellow pills I wouldn’t have left the house today, not for a second. ‘Course, pain killers tend to make my brain all fuzzy so I’ve spent most of today in a pleasantly muted haze. And then the torrential rains came back (we’ve had a lot of them recently and we need them so much), and my train line went down… I knew I couldn’t beat all of those odds and still get to my beloved yoga class. Not that I was sure how much of the class I’d be able to do anyway…
Just as I was feeling dejected, waiting for a Bus That Never Comes (to get to the train), some kind soul offered me a lift almost all of the way home! I was too late for my yoga class but still, I could get from where she dropped me off to my place ridiculously easily.
So instead of yoga, I came home to cook a silverbeet & feta pie (just out of the oven now), watch the latest episode of Glee (Dog Days Are Over!) and shooed away some of the swiftly encroaching brain fuzz (a kind of sluggishly drunk-without-being-drunk feeling) long enough to write this post.
Which is actually meant to be about my yoga teaching experiences from the month of November!
Actually, I didn’t know I’d been teaching last month until the day before my first class. Around a month or so beforehand, I had a yoga teaching “audition” that a friend referred me to. It was for a personal training business – their yoga teacher was about to go on maternity leave and they needed someone to cover the last four classes for the year.
But after the audition, I didn’t hear back. When I tried to find out what was going on, the reply was pretty much “we’ll get back to you”. Only, they didn’t. Well, at least not for ages! To my shame, I’ll admit that I wrote off the job as not going to happen: because I thought they might’ve decided a more typical twig-like yoga teacher would be a better image for their business.
Truthfully, I don’t know why they ended up choosing me – perhaps it was just about who was available to take over at the last minute, who knows? But on the Monday I got a call about the possibility of running a class the very next evening. And so we began.
It was weird in some ways, taking over an established class from another teacher. Especially when I’d never even taken one of her classes, so I didn’t know anything about her teaching style except for what she told me. And here’s the thing: as well as being a yoga teacher, she is a dancer and a massage therapist and she described her yoga classes as “very hands on”.
As in, lots of adjustments and touching. Including during savasana (that bit at the end where you lie down and relax). And the owner of the personal training business had become accustomed to that. For her, this is a component of a good yoga class.
Now, my background (over ten years of private study) and yoga teacher training as well as the teachers I admire… all of these parts of my experience with yoga lean in another direction: that body awareness is best developed by allowing students to do for themselves. That adjustments should be sparse. If people really aren’t getting something, then stop and demonstrate, and give them a chance to work it out for themselves… this is how I’ve been trained.
So it was quite a shock to be expected to get a lot more physical with my students! I had to find a balance that worked for me, because I certainly wasn’t like their previous teacher and had no intention of changing. I did however try to make my adjustments as light on and yet instructional as possible (if that makes any sense?).
A few other things I noticed this month are as follows:
- Teaching as a part of someone else’s business can conflict with your own teaching style!
- Some people will like you, others won’t – not much you can do about it, and you can’t take it personally.
- Ditto for what people think of your classes (although most of them won’t ever tell you what they think).
- Sometimes you’ll plan a class and then do something completely different, and it all works out in the end.
- As a new teacher, it can be hard to both teach the asana AND remember to get out all of the stuff you want to convey about yoga. Writing it down before a class helps.
- It is very hard to remember everyone’s names (especially if you’ve had short term memory issues via something like PTSD).
- Teaching regularly, even if it’s just once a week is excellent for building confidence in your teaching skills. It also helps you to learn how you like to teach and how you don’t.
- Basically, you learn to be a yoga teacher by teaching classes.
- It’s good to be forgiving of yourself over any mistakes you make.
- Even if you don’t have years of experience behind you, you still have your own knowledge and love of yoga to share. Teach that, if nothing else.
I probably do have more to write in this list BUT the brain fog is encroaching again (and I’ve just worked out that two muscle relaxant tablets is enough to make me high, even if I took them over twelve hours ago!). So yeah, for now… that’s all I got.
I also taught another class last Saturday, and as a result I have a new teaching gig starting next February. But I’ll tell you more about that another time when I’m not in such a weird, weird state. Because I think I just lost my ability to focus!
P.S. Apologies for the roughness of this post in terms of writing style… my brain is refusing to be patient enough to allow me to do any further edits!