You’d think after all that training and practice and actually getting Yoga Alliance Certified I’d be feeling pretty confident in my teaching, wouldn’t you? Rationally, yeah, but since when does my brain think about things rationally? Opposite, in fact. Before my “first class back” I was probably just about as nervous as I was before the first ever yoga class I taught.
The bar was raised, now that I’m officially a 200-hour trained yoga teacher. I should really know what I’m doing with this! I should be infinitely better at teaching than I was a month ago, before the training! I projected these high expectations onto my students and prepared to be silently judged when I fell short.
I should know better – my students are much too lovely to be so critical -, but still.
I taught the sequence I’d done for my final practicum during the training. Fully approved by my teachers, following all their rules/recommendations for how a yoga class should be planned out. I demoed poses the way we’d been taught, I used appropriate coaching points throughout class, and I even tried to incorporate a little breath meditation.
I did all the “right” things, but it still kind of felt wrong.
Of course, no one said anything negative; I got compliments on the class, actually, and congratulations for completing my training. As far as I know, no one left the class feeling it had been unsatisfactory. Just me.
On one of our first days of training, our teacher told us a golden rule: take what works for you, and leave the rest. You don’t have to take every single thing we learn and live by it forever. Learning it just gives us options, it opens up our minds to a variety of ways of doing things. If a technique or a theory or some aspect of practice doesn’t resonate with you, leave it! There’s no need to keep trying to force it to work.
Tie this in with the second Yama, satya, and I start to realize what felt so “off” about my class. The Yamas and Nyamas are guidelines for how we should live our lives on and off the yoga mat, and satya comes second only to ahimsa, or non-violence. Truthfulness is the essence of this second “yogi commandment” (although they are totally not commandments, or *rules* at all, but that’s a whole other topic). Satya requires that you live with honesty; with others, but also being honest with, and true to, yourself.
So – honestly? The rigid, by-the-book sequence and way we’d been taught of piecing together a yoga class didn’t work for me. I like more creative classes, I like making up fun flows that sometimes surprise and challenge my students. I like sometimes not having a precise class plan to stick to. The class I taught last week was trying too hard to be something I’m not. I wasn’t being true to myself in my teaching, at all.
There are a lot of things I learned during my training that I really, really value. I do believe that yes, my teaching has improved a lot because of it. But also, I have to admit that there are some things that just don’t resonate with me. And that’s okay. Take what works, and leave the rest. Stay true to yourself. And going forward, I can do that; taking the new techniques that work for me, and keeping the old ways that make my classes mine.
Live and learn. This week will be better. Many thanks to my students for sticking around while I figure this out. I’m excited (and nervous, still) to continue this journey and keep learning and growing.
Much love, truly truly