This month marks one year that I’ve been teaching yoga. One year that there have been people who actually pay me so I can share a bit about this thing that brings me profound joy.
I have a distinct memory from my teacher training when our instructor asked, “Raise your hand if you’re here because you want to go on to teach yoga.” I looked around before moving a muscle, of course. Why the hell do we always look around like the answer is somewhere in the looks on other people’s faces? Half the room raised their hands and I raised half a thumb and scrunched up my face like, “iunno…maybe?” There was no wrong answer to the question of course. But if I’d shot my hand up I would have been volunteering for a burden I wasn’t confident I could carry.
Also on the first day, we had to go to the front of the room and lead the class through one single sun salutation. My heart still races when I think back to that moment. I was so nervous. I was more nervous than the time I read the class ode at my high school’s graduation, more nervous than any job interview or first date I’d ever been on. I had done thousands of sun salutations up to that point, and I botched that sun salutation so hard. Nerves through the roof, voice cracking, saying things weirdly, skipping flat back. Literally everything one could possibly get wrong leading a class through a sun salutation I got wrong. I think I sort of blacked it out near the end, I just know it was ugly. And I’d wanted it to be perfect.
I’ve been teaching for a year, part-time, generally 2-3 classes a week, sometimes less/more. And if time travel were a thing and I could go back a year and throw some wisdom on former me, here’s what I’d say:
Your personal yoga practice should come first, always. Practicing is how you clean the mirror, as one teacher put it. If your personal practice is lacking, you’ll hold up a dirty mirror for students and this won’t benefit anyone. Teaching is not a competition, it is a privilege. It’s a privilege to hold up that mirror.
You don’t have to be able to teach every style of yoga. In fact, you should probably pick one. It will be tempting to pick up sub classes for yogalates one day, Dharma the next morning and Vinyasa in the afternoon. But it’s too many colors and not quite enough negative space between. Settle into the style that is uniquely your own and refine from there. Consider your favorite instructors. Consider their consistency.
Every so often you’ll mess up right and left or accidentally skip a pose. If a student doesn’t mention it, there’s no reason you should. They didn’t notice or care. Don’t apologize for minor mistakes—it just becomes more of a distraction. Let them softly fade away. While you’re at it, take this bit of advice into other areas of life, too.
You’ll come to find your pre-class ritual: chai tea, a good book and fun tunes. Play the kind of music before class that’s part of who you are: Dispatch, Guster, Bob Marley. Music that feels like home.
One day you’ll teach a class to one person, and it was not meant to be a private class. When this happens, just know that the student is far and beyond more uncomfortable than you are.
Not everyone’s going to like you. Not everyone’s going to like your style or your music or voice or how you don’t have a lot of philosophical stuff to talk about or how your jokes and stories aren’t funny. Not everyone’s going to like you, and when that happens they won’t come back to your class and that’s OK. Sometimes you will have some regular students for a while, and eventually they’ll stop coming, too. Don’t wonder if it was something you said.
Eventually someone is going to go out of their way to tell you something quite kind. They are going to write in a Yelp review and email your studio about it and it’s going to happen right at the moment you thought you sucked. Your heart will swell and you’ll want to know who said that thing. But instead you will never know and so you just have to treat every person you meet as if they are the one who said that kind thing when you doubted yourself most. You’ll find out that this is the beautiful burden you were so afraid to shoot your hand up and volunteer to carry. But you’re working on it. And you’re finding it’s not so heavy after all.
05.26.15 // 8:05 pm || Just got home from an intense yogalates class and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so good after a workout session! It’s currently raining lightly outside, my favorite weather in which to get stuff done. Reviewing my first completed spread of my bullet journal before hopping in the shower and getting down to work!
P.S. I think I need some stickers so I can more accurately reflect my mood after each day, can anyone recommend me any simple cute ones?
Is MMA the new yogalates? Looks like it! Most popular boys at Hester, Liam Booker and Shane Harvey, were spotted at Duke and Son gym getting their sweat on. They were accompanied by new student (and apparently new friend!), Theo, as well as universally disliked student, Lauren Cooper. All four kept their style simple but functional, wearing standard workout attire. Though Lauren expressed some creativity and broke the mold with a daring up-do. The gang seemed to enjoy the class, with Shane even volunteering to demonstrate some difficult MMA moves with hottie instructor, Duke Lewis. No word on when they’ll be going back to Duke and Son, as all four left the venue separately. But if the group’s enthusiasm was any inclination, definitely look for Shane to be back soon.
once when i was downtown i heard a gay prophet say, “if he listens to mariah carey and it ain’t december, then there’s a 110% chance he’s not into you, girl. he’s not waving at you he’s waving at ryan with the frosted tips from yogalates.”