This past week can be summed up as an emotional roller coaster, of sorts. We started out week 3 by teaching our first-ever yoga sequence. A 20-minute section as part of an hour-long class, that we each taught to our fellow class-mates. I spent a good amount of time over the weekend prior, prepping, reading, fake teaching it to myself out loud. I felt nervous, but pretty well prepared. Then, I got in front of the room and I quickly realized that what makes sense in your head and to you as someone that has practicing yoga for over 7 years, may not always necessarily make sense when it comes out of your mouth! When you can look at a student and see that your instructions maybe aren’t as clear as what they could be and that they may not know exactly what you mean, it is certainly an eye-opening moment. One that I was glad to have in the safety of my fellow students and not in front of strangers. I was quickly forced to realize that order of instructions – stuff James always talks about, really IS important, and prioritizing the stability and pre-alignment BEFORE movement, etc. etc. – those tools are there for us as teachers, for a reason. All that stuff we had been learning, it all clicked, in that moment, while I was actually teaching for the first time. On one hand, as soon as I was done teaching, I felt really good and confident that it wasn’t too bad, that I learned from my mistakes and I didn’t mess up too badly. On the other, I felt beat up, humbled, overwhelmed, under-prepared, insecure and scared to have to watch it later and talk about it. It was a very interesting and eye-opening challenge for me.
The afternoon of our first time teaching, just when we were getting ready to watch the videos of ourselves, James gave us some really great advice about not picking ourselves apart, not stressing over the little things, our clothes, our body, our voice, our nervousness – but to really take this as an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, to look at ourselves objectively as teachers, and to take from it the things that we CAN change and need to change to be great teachers. Such powerful advice that I needed to hear and was so very happy I did, before he hit play. I took notes on what I needed to work on, where I still needed help in understanding the poses and the transitions and I told myself the next time would be even better.
Another wonderful bit of advice that James has given us at multiple times in this training, that has really stuck with me in these first days of teaching and obviously will continue to as I carry on the road, is to look at each pose and the entire sequence, as a story. So, with each pose I am teaching, I now prepare by really breaking it down, asking myself what is the point of that story, what am I telling, what is it leading to? Knowing what is ahead in the sequence means that I can really focus on the fundamentals of that particular posture and what it has to do with the story, as a whole. That has made the clear understanding of the poses much more important, but in turn made it far easier for me to teach them. In the second round of teaching, after learning from my mistakes, I wasn’t hung up on memorizing the right words, instead I was able to find whatever words necessary to communicate the important fundamentals and pre-alignment of the current posture I was teaching, in a clear and concise way, to let the students know what they needed to know. It may sound more complicated than memorizing a script, but to me and my brain, far easier to relax and just give into the knowledge that is there already, just letting it come out in whatever words necessary – as long as the important parts are there and it is said in a correct order for the students to get into the pose, properly and safely.
I can say with confidence, that although the second and third time of me teaching this past week, were still not perfect and definitely could use some work – I know that each time it got better, I got less nervous and it did get easier. There is a lot I want to work on yet, much of it being my own confidence in being an authority, but it really does feel increasingly more comfortable and easier for me, each time I start to speak. I keep telling myself that I know this stuff and that any students that I will have, are coming there to my classes to learn it from me, because I know it. When I can focus on the amazing idea that my words have the ability to bring something to people in their yoga practices, that can change their lives – that motivates me to want to be the best that I can be for them, as their teacher.
While we are talking about the emotional roller coaster that was this week and all of these realizations I had, I think the other very emotional aspect of this week, for me, in addition to the struggles of my natural nervousness, is that I have had to really to take a hard look at myself as a person, a creator and a communicator. Fully seeing the effects of my own insecurities in all of the other areas of my life, as well, and more importantly, clearly seeing how often I talk myself out of something, before I even try it. By the second day of teaching this past week, I spent a few hours the night prior where I was convinced that I couldn’t do it, that I wasn’t right for this and that I maybe shouldn’t be doing it. I felt sorry for myself for a bit, I cried thinking about how badly I was gonna do. Thankfully I quickly snapped out of it, I stopped myself and I tried to look at where it was coming from. It is a pattern with me. I do it many areas of my life. When I stopped to recognize this pattern, I took that moment to really pause and look at what I would be teaching the next day. I very clearly knew it all, when I went to look for the words to communicate what I knew, they were all there. So why the apprehension and why was I talking myself out of it?
It has been a very interesting journey seeing myself in new ways and really looking at harmful patterns in my life that have kept me from being succeeding at things I have wanted, for no reason, except for the fear of failure at that thing. It’s much easier to say it just didn’t happen then to have to say you failed while you were trying right? But what about if I tried and I actually succeed? What then? How could I know, if I didn’t try? This is a powerful breakthrough for me. It pertains to so many aspects of my life. It is something I have looked at before, but I don’t think I was really wasn’t ready to. I think this is the start of a long journey, but I am happy to be heading in the right direction.
Plan of Action.
At the end of this week besides recapping and pulling together the various areas of study such as anatomy, the things we have learned in our own practices, teaching methodologies, philosophy, etc – we also started talking about the business of yoga. Getting hired, staying hired and all that great stuff. As someone that has worked for themselves for nearly 10 years now, this part of the curriculum is so intriguing for me. Seeing all of the parallels to my other businesses, but also looking at the challenges that I will face, that are much different than I have ever had to consider before.
Over this weekend one of our assignments is to work on a Plan of Action. Creating a vision for what we would like to see for ourselves with teaching yoga, 5 years down the line. Whether or not this is exactly the only thing we want to do or not, it is an exercise in thinking about a focused path to a goal. The first step: identifying our vision of where we can see ourselves in 5 years. The second step: placing the steps, mapping out what big picture steps are necessary for us to take to reach this goal, planning for our success. And finally the third step: making it happen. What are the first initial steps necessary for us to start down this path to success?
I am so excited about this assignment and the idea of planning ahead. I always have a very “whatever will be, will be” attitude of everything, letting things ebb and flow, growing and changing with the world, as necessary. I try not to get myself too stressed about planning major things, for (here it is again) fear that I will be let down if it doesn’t happen. I am now realizing as I get older and add more activities and work to my life, that I am very passionate about, that I need to get even more organized and plan ahead for what I want to happen, rather than just being OK with whatever does. If I have a clear plan and set steps, I can edit and change the steps and even the entire vision, if necessary, as I go. No need to worry about being let down or upset with myself if I fail. The succession is something that I can control, if I continue to reassess the path and the steps, as I continue on the journey.
OK, enough gabbing, I could talk about this forever – but it’s time for me to get back to my homework and plan for the week ahead. In case you missed it, we are offering two FREE yoga classes tomorrow and Wednesday in Santa Monica. More information about the who, what, when and where can be found here.