I had my first opportunity in several weeks to teach a yoga class tonight as a substitute teacher for one of my yoga teachers who is out of town. The group was the largest I have ever taught, and over half the group had never done yoga of any kind before. Several didn’t even have mats. This was their first asana class of the semester in an undergraduate level yoga class.
To start with, the class was held in somewhat of an unusual location in that it was a regular university classroom where we had to move the tables and chairs out of the way to make room for our mats. The room was so packed with people and furniture that the only space I had to demonstrate poses was to climb up on a table!
There was a time—not so long ago—that this would have completely unnerved me, but instead I found so much joy in sharing my love of yoga with people who were new to it that the time flew right by without me once ever stopping to think of being nervous or self-conscious. It was an amazing feeling, and it shows me just how far the time on my own mat has brought me. Even when I wasn’t doing the poses with them (some of them just shouldn’t be tried atop a table!), my body knows them well enough for me to still cue them without hesitation.
I saw so much in postures around the room that I wanted to have the time to correct over weeks of class in people who just weren’t quite grasping yet what I was trying to tell them or who had insufficient body awareness to realize that what they were doing wasn’t at all like what I was saying. And even in that, I recognized that I was thinking like a teacher who had something to offer to these students. I was excited about the idea of taking them farther into their yoga journey rather than being intimidated as I once would have been by seeing people struggling with my verbal cues.
I’m not sure where this confidence came from. This felt different even than the last time I taught in teacher training. Something has shifted for me in these intervening weeks to take me from seeing myself as a teacher-in-training to seeing myself as a teacher. And because I saw myself as a teacher, they did too. Several came up to ask me questions afterward about specific postures and equipment choices.
I’m sure I’ll still have my days when I feel like I’m in over my head. I have two more classes tomorrow morning in the same room with a similar size crowd, and I can’t wait. What a joy it is to share my love of yoga—to watch them learn the postures, to see them correct their mistakes, to see the look of peace on their faces as they relax into savasana!
But I realized tonight that somewhere along the line I have really become a yoga teacher. Life is so sweet.
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