I remember not so many months ago when I started subbing yoga classes, how nervous I was. How I’d get myself all spun up thinking my class had to be as perfect as I could make. Feeling the self-inflicted pressure of trying to live up to the level of my favorite teachers. I wanted so badly to leave a similar impression on the students that my teachers had been left on me, that I made myself miserable.
Thank goodness that once I’d get into the class and start teaching I’d relax a bit and let go of the need to be perfect. I think my saving grace was that I’m comfortable in front of people and am a bit funny. Like most areas of my life, even in the yoga room I used humor to relax those around me…as well as myself.
Thank goodness those first experiences went better than expected because they kept me coming back for more. Each time growing more and more confident. Each time gaining a deeper understanding that teaching isn’t about being perfect…it’s about sharing your experience…offering a part of yourself to your students. It’s about being vulnerable and knowledge all at the same time. (I think that’s called being human.)
I look back on those first experiences and it makes me want to laugh…and give myself a big hug. I was so keyed up…and that’s just not me. But that’s the point. I wasn’t being me. I was trying to be someone else…trying to be like the teacher I was subbing for. Trying to offer some consistency to the class by pretending to take on a teaching style that wasn’t my own. That’s called being inauthentic. I was well intentioned…but it didn’t feel right.
In January I took on my own class. Every Saturday at 10 am at our northside studio I have the privilege of teaching a 75 minute Basics class. Walking into that first class felt completely different. Sure, I was still a little amped up because it was my first class and I wanted to do well, but it was MY CLASS.
From that first class forward, people would come (or not come) because of me and my teaching style. It was a chance for me to find my own voice…set the tone with music I liked…teach the poses I loved. I didn’t have to worry if what I said sounded like another teacher. I only needed to be myself. My god…what a relief!
Since taking on the Basics class, I’ve also picked up a corporate class. Again, it’s a new program and I get to work with the personalities in the room to make it something unique for us to enjoy. And I love it. Teaching in a corporate environment is totally different than teaching in the studio, but I can relate. Having lived in a corporate environment for 15 years, these are my people…I know and understand their world…their stresses…and I think they can feel that I get it.
Now that I’ve found my footing…got my mojo, so to speak…subbing for people is completely different too. Gone is the pressure to be someone else…to teach like another teacher…to be someone I’m not. In its place is a quiet confidence…a trust that I’m a good teacher….and a hope that someday I’ll be the type of teacher I loved going to.
In the meantime, I’ll continue to settle into who I am as a teacher and hone my methods. There’s something about building a class sequence that I find relaxing now. It’s almost like a moving meditation…even though my body isn’t actually moving. In my mind, as I write down the general outline I plan to use, I can feel my body energetically moving through the poses. Somehow, by doing this, it sticks…in my bones.
For the first few weeks I took my notes into class with me as a crutch. Having them there made me feel better…and as the teacher, if that’s what I need, so be it. The other day I forgot my notes and had to teach anyway. There…in my body…was the sequencing. There…like everything…I found the answers to what I needed…with me in my body…always.
I’ve heard others say that when you start to teaching, the teaching becomes your practice and your practice supports your teaching. I think I’m finally starting to understand what they meant by that.
To all my teachers, thank you for what you do and how you do it. Thank you for being authentically you…and for gifting me the love of yoga…that has led me to the love of teaching.