I didn’t go into my class tonight expecting to be this amazing teacher right out of training. I went in understanding that not every teacher is perfect because perfection is impossible, and that every teacher gets better with every class they teach. I knew that I was probably going to make a mistake or six, but that each mistake would make me a better teacher. I was okay with knowing that I might mess up my sequence that I had planned, and that I might mix up my lefts and my rights (I did). And I was actually okay with showing my vulnerability to these people I didn’t know, because it takes a considerable amount of courage to stand up in front of a class and pour your heart and soul into a class. I knew that showing this side of me would possibly allow me to connect with a student on a deeper level, and that’s what I really wanted. I didn’t expect to make this huge impact on every single person I taught, just to someone who might have needed it the most tonight.
All that being said, I was still a nervous wreck all day knowing that I was going to stand in front of a group of people tonight and ask them to do all kinds of crazy things with their bodies. And even though I tried my hardest not to put this pressure on myself, that’s definitely an easier said then done task. It’s terrifying to stand in front of people and try to connect with them on a physical and mental level. Add to that how much goes behind actually teaching a class it’s no wonder why you truly have to be passionate about yoga to be a teacher; there’s coming up with a class that flows and opens up the body in it’s sequential order (so you don’t injure anyone), there’s spiritual theme-ing, controlling your voice, making sure the heat is not too hot or too cold, creating a playlist that matches the flow of your class, ensuring you’re assisting properly in the right areas, making sure you’re calling the right poses and cuing them effectively, accommodating the various levels of practitioners in your class, demonstrating while trying to talk at the same time…the list goes on and on!
Not to mention that I am almost 6 months pregnant and I had to constantly check my ego not to beat myself up because I can’t hold certain poses or get into poses as gracefully while teaching at the same time. The pressure, guys, it’s insane ;)
But I’m really not trying to make this sound like the hardest job ever. Teaching just happens to be an organic, overwhelming process. There is SO much more to teaching than standing in front of a class, asking them to do poses that come naturally to you. Especially when you’re so emotionally invested in yoga, teaching is not something that you take lightly. I never realized how much went behind a class until I attended training but now my mind has been blown with how much time and effort goes behind a class. When your teacher stands in front of you, she or he is pouring their heart out to you with something they’re so passionate about .
And that’s why I worked up so much emotion going my first yoga class tonight.
As for the actual class, it wasn’t bad considering how my day started with a 5 hour trip to the ER since Caleb has been dealing with croup and bronchilitis this week. My mind and emotions were completely taxed by the time I left for my class and on the drive there, I could not shut my mind off about today’s events. I tried a few breathing exercises to no avail so I did the next best thing…I turned up Macklemore’s Thrift Shop song full blast and repeated to myself “this is fuken awesome” the rest of the drive. I guess that could be considered my mantra for the evening because it worked, I had myself convinced that tonight was going to be “fuken awesome”. And it was!
Since it was a warm candlelit vinyasa class, I tried to keep the class somewhat relaxing but I will admit that I made the students hold planks, chatarungas and a few warriors for quite some time so hopefully no one hates me too much tomorrow.
Again, I mixed up my lefts and rights a few times but not as much as I thought I would. A few times I caught myself saying something ridiculous like “Raise your hips to your heels” but I let a little personality through by sarcastically following up with “oh wait, because that’s totally possible…just kidding, don’t actually do that”. I got a few chuckles out of it so I guess it really doesn’t hurt to incorporate a little personality into your class, haha.
I ended up skipping a lot of the back bending poses I had planned, and even messed up the order of some poses but I’m pretty sure no one could tell but me. Or at least I’m hoping no one could tell. And surprisingly, I didn’t stay on my mat the entire time, I found myself walking around cue-ing poses and assisting students. My confidence in getting off my mat really shocked me since my mat is my crutch and I thought I would be glued to it.
At the beginning of the class, I thought to myself, how the hell am I going to get through an hour of this class? But the class actually went by faster than I thought since I was in such a haze of nerves. Then towards the end of the class when I started to feel my stride and my confidence grew, I actually wished I had more time. Cuh-ray-zay!
The best part of tonight was watching the bodies melt into complete relaxation during savasana, and I even had a student whisper “thank you” when I placed a lavender soaked towel over her eyes. That little “thank you” made me smile ear to ear and etched in my mind that at the very least I’m doing something right for someone. It was also so amazing seeing these students actually doing what I was telling them to do, I couldn’t believe they understood my words (well, most of them) and that they were sweating, breathing, and enjoying themselves. I did that! Holy balls!
The icing on the cake was how several students were shocked when I told them that I was six months pregnant and had no idea that this was my first class. One student even came up to me to express how happy and excited she was that we practiced inversion preps and inversions. Getting such a wonderfully specific compliment like that just blew my mind because the entire time there was this tiny voice in my head that kept telling me that my class was a disaster. But hearing that compliment just shut that pesky voice the hell right up! I wanted to squeeze her and ask her to “tell me more girlfriend!” haha.
So that’s how my first class went! After all of the heartache, intensive training, and this exhilarating experience of teaching for the first time, I am now officially a bona fide yoga teacher. I was a glass case of emotions today but it still ended up being an experience of pure thrill for me.
I teach again this Saturday and I know I’ll probably falter a few more times here and there, but I’m completely willing to learn from my errors. I want to keep going and going until I become a better teacher and I fully accept that no matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to accept me. But as long as I can reach out to one person, I’ll know that I’ve done my job successfully. And what an exciting, fulfilling job it will be.