Tag Archives: teaching

From my journal: What the beginner yoga teacher was really thinking

Yoga classes are many things to different people. Some people come to sweat without the annoying “and one more!” of an aerobics trainer in their ear. Others love the balance and harmony that yoga brings to their spirit.  For some, it’s a break from their hectic modern, plugged in lives.  For the novice teacher? It’s 60 minutes of frantic mental gymnastics and acting cool.

I’ve done a lot (a lot!) of presentations before so I wasn’t really that nervous when I offerred to fill in for my injured yoga teacher one day. Plus, she was going to be in the room, so if anything went really off the rails, I knew she’d bail me out.

This was the first time I would be teaching a) a group of yogis who actually knew what they were doing and b) for a whole 60 minutes. Let me walk you through the sweat-dripping experience (and it wasn’t hot yoga).

I had a routine lined up and had just finished week 4 of the 200 level training so we had been running through poses and sequences ad nauseum to date. I remembered to tell the students they would need a strap and a couple of blocks (normal yoga props for all you non-yogis out there!) – all good so far.

First 5 minutes: put them in savasana and start their meditation. Crap! forgot MY strap and block – quietly run out of the room and grab some for me…DON’T drop the block…sit back down and make sure everyone is still breathing..Damn! I’m not wearing a watch and the teacher’s ipod is blocking the clock…quietly get MY iphone out of my bag and place unobstrusively behind a block.

Next 15 minutes: run through my kneeling sequence with them, remembering to look around and make sure everyone is ok.  WHY do they keep looking at me??? The downside of the kneeling portion of the class is that they are all facing you with these lovely looks of expectation and there is no where else to look except BACK AT THEM.  Which is why I forgot one of the poses and then I forgot what it was called.  Oh that’s why they are looking at me, I can just DO the pose and they will follow. On the other hand, when you aren’t facing your students and you hear a big THUD, be careful how you twist your own head to take a look (ow!).

Next 20 minutes: Teachers, the biggest clue that you are not cue-ing the moves right is when people start to fall down. I’m not saying you are doing anything wrong, but generally, there’s something you can do better at that point. So, when one of the yogis sort of fell over and had to put her hand on the wall, that should have told me to slow down or maybe go and stand in front of everyone rather than making them turn their heads to see me!!  Ah well, noone was hurt; lesson learned.

At this point, for all you math whizzes, I should be just past the halfway point in the class. So, as I look at my iPhone and see that I’m only 25 minutes into the class, my heart starts pounding faster (OMG, what am I going to do with them for an extra 15 minutes) and my mind starts to go into overdrive (longersavansanaattheendandmaybethrowinsomeomsandmaybesomethingelse??)

If you recall, my teacher was in the class and while everyone was resting in child’s pose, I look over at her and she gives me the big thumbs up!!!!  and I give her the face of panic!!!

All bets are off now, I pull out every single routine I can think of in the standing section and hold every pose extra and make them do every pose 3 times. I also notice that the class continues to face you in the standing section so you don’t have the chance to surreptitiously try the routine before you teach it!!! grrrrr (lesson learned – throw in a bunch of stuff where they are looking up or back or to the side)

By about 10 minutes to the end, I haven’t lost anyone, I haven’t made too many verbal flubs but I still have 10 minutes to fill.  I’m wishing I knew my arm balances better because those take a ton of time to do. Alright, so we’ll do a longer than usual meditation.  The class is great, they do all the breathing exercises and I keep checking my iphone’s clock just in case – time runs differently for the teacher than the class.  But when the students go really really still and quiet, I start to wonder if they have fallen asleep. I start to be afraid that the next sound I hear is gentle snoring. Then I start to panic that they are all totally bored and can’t wait to get out of there!  Quick! wake them up! make them do “om”s…..