As I slipped in to my own yoga lesson last week, a little late, I was looking forward to an anonymous hour and a half of being a yoga student with no responsibility.
But as soon as she spotted me my teacher beckoned me over, ‘There’s plenty of space at the front’ she said cheerily, adding, ‘And I’d like to use you for demonstrating today.’
So my plan of having a quiet class went out the window, and I was up on the raised platform in front of about 30 students, having to remember to mirror the class, while doing my yogic best to follow each instruction.
However, as the class progressed and my frantic brain began to recede, I found that although being at the front meant I was under extra pressure to perform the pose to the best of my ability, there was also a feeling of liberation. I was able to stand in front of a whole class of students, and NOT have to tell them what to do, or focus on what any of the other bodies were doing.
In fact, it really is a privilege to be chosen to demonstrate. The first pitfall, however, is to think that the reason you’re asked to demonstrate is because you have perfect poses. This is not the case. However, there is a veiled compliment in the request, because the teacher would only ask those students that they know have a strong enough practice, and a good enough understanding to be able to a) get into the poses without falling over, and b) be able to show the other students the teaching points on their body.
At the end of the class I was able to sink into savasana, feeling my body glowing from a really good lesson.
It also made me realise how important my own lesson is now that I’m a teacher.
How Teaching Yoga is different from Doing Yoga
Of course, teaching is another form of yoga, in that you have to be present in every cell of your body in order to do it properly.
This evening I’m going to be teaching a lesson focusing on twists. Twists are so beneficial, but they are not my absolute favourite to teach, as if anything’s going to get my knickers in a twist, it’s twists.
In one recent twists lesson I had to teach three different variations of the same pose at the same time. The first group were doing the actual pose – Marichyasana 3 – the second group had their period, so were doing an open twist instead – Marichyasana 1 – and the final person had a knee problem, so was doing a twist in Dandasana. By a small miracle I managed to get all three poses taught without my head exploding.
In order to have all that information in my head, and still teach from the heart, I have to know the poses from deep within my own body. This only comes with practice, practice, practice.
However, teaching itself isn’t draining, in fact, I find it energising. Even if I feel tired and reluctant before the lesson, I always feel uplifted afterwards. But the process of planning the lessons, doing the admin, lugging blocks here, there and everywhere is time-consuming. Plus, my energies are directed outwards, to others, their bodies, their problems, and how to address them.
How to redress the Imbalance
I have found that it’s easy to let my own practice slip. Hence my instinctive delight at being in my own lesson.
My body and mind need to be yogically fed to have the sustenance needed to give yoga to others.
When I was training for my teacher training assessment, I made sure that I made time for home practice, at least 4 times a week. Now, it’s easy to let that slip, as I’m doing yoga every day. But without the regular home practice it gets harder to teach with integrity.
After last Friday I have found time to practice every day this week. One day it was only 20 minutes, but that was still a practice.
As B.K.S. Iyengar said:
‘Aim for perfection, but be content with a little progress every day.’
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