Another compilation for y’all, out of order in my typically shambolic style…
Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?
~ December 10 prompt
Stepping out to teach yoga! I was terrified after I received my qualifications – HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO BECOME A YOGA TEACHER?!?!
In the small hours of the day, I sometimes considered just letting it slide. I knew heaps of people who completed their yoga teacher training and then never taught. So why should I?!!
Regardless I took the steps, thinking I suppose I should at least give it a go. So I got my papers in order, applied for YTAA (Yoga Teachers Association of Australia – now Yoga Australia) membership. Got my public liability insurance. Thought and thought about a business name, then threw out all of my ideas and came up with a completely different one several months later.
I did all of that, and still didn’t have a class to teach!
But doggedly, I followed my instincts which told me how I wanted to begin my teaching career – working as a volunteer teacher for the disadvantaged. I thought it’d be awesome to offer some yoga for free to people who need it while building my teaching skills at the same time. Somehow I made it happen, and I’ve written about my yoga teacher experiences a bit. Here’s a handful of those posts:
Before I became a yoga teacher, I had a lot of trouble imagining myself as one. But I reckon that’s because I didn’t understand what sort of teacher I was going to be.
I’ve discovered that for me, teaching yoga is service work – no more or less.
It’s not like I’m some kind of authority figure up the front of the room commanding people to move their bodies. Instead, I see it more like a partnership. We work together and we laugh. I am honest and speak to my students as friends, not supplicants.
What I’ve learned from all of this however is that in order to become a teacher, you simply have to get out there and teach. There’s nothing your yoga teacher training course can help you out with on that front, except more contact hours as a student teacher. GO FORTH AND TEACH, I SAY!!
To date, this work of becoming a yoga teacher is the most enriching thing I’ve ever done for myself! So you could say it’s playing out just fine…
Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colours).
~ December 3 prompt
That very first yoga class I taught. Okay, the first one where people actually turned up! 😉
The experience of planning that session, agonising over the sequence of asana and further agonising over whether anyone would turn up this time made my belly flip-flop. Little summersaults of nervousness and excitement! I was up late the night before just making sure what I was planning made sense, much as the six year old me hated going to bed on Christmas Eve.
Everything had been donated. My time, the yoga room, the mats. I’d cycled a few kilometres from my place to the venue with the mats in my pannier bags, turning up ridiculously early. The room itself was upstairs at the back of an old heritage building-turned-art-gallery and despite windows in three walls, the space reeked of musty carpet and neglect.
Never mind, I’d brought incense and candles and music and we’ll generate our own vibe. Waiting nervously, and going through the sequence again and waiting some more to see who’d appear at the door.
There they were! We began, talking about yoga in general terms, a few announcements and before I knew what was happening, I was instructing people in yoga!! Who me?? Or, perhaps not me. Not the nervous/concerned person who stumbles over her own words but some other version, reliant on many years of gathered knowledge.
Get this – it worked! I didn’t just survive teaching that first solo/un-monitored class. I rose up and met the energy required to do the work.
Afterwards, I can’t tell you how much I giggled and felt overwhelmingly free. Light, like I could float back home instead of cycling there.
I think it’s that moment of sharing something and seeing the acknowledgement and understanding sink in. They actually get what I’ve shared. FUCKING AWESOME!
I mean, isn’t that what life is all about?
Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?
~ December 4 prompt
Same-same-same-same – the very reason I grouped these three prompts together.
It’s all about the yoga!
Every time I step out on the mat as a yoga teacher I feel wonder at what I’m becoming – whoever this confident and self-assured person is, she sure doesn’t resemble the girl over my shoulder of recent history. New things are being forged: new things, new limbs, new words and shoulders rolled back further than before, chin up.
This teaching gig is an ongoing learning process – how I speak, move, and interact with those who participate in my classes. And it’s an honour and a blessing to be able to share yoga like this!
My last teaching gig for this year was a beginners class a couple of weeks ago. We were doing some of the Pawanmuktasana series – very simple movements that are exceptionally good for the joints (key for flexibility) and digestive system.
I noticed one of my students absent-mindedly staring at the roof while she worked. She looked bored. Hold your horses, lassie!!! I stopped the entire class.
No. It’s not yoga if you’re only going through the motions. Look at your knee as you move it. Breathe with each movement. Engage the mind in what you’re doing, don’t let it wander!
We started again and they seemed to get it – that presence is required, no matter how simple the asana.
And in that very brief exchange, if maybe even one of those students heard me just a little bit then I’ve made a difference. Which totally rocks, right? Here I am, participating in this ongoing tradition of oral transmission, something that’s been going on for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years.
Let’s face it: that is just freakin’ cool, everybody! Am I right?