Monday, August 2, 2010

Back on the mat in front of a class

I gave up teaching yoga nearly two years ago. The ego made me do it. Actually, it was a lack of confidence, truth be told. I wondered then just what knowledge I had to share with students. Would it be enough to keep them coming back week after week? Could I communicate my joy for yoga to them simply through my teaching?

As my classes swelled and shrank, I took it personally. On 'big' class days I would rejoice and on 'little' class days I'd question my methods and connection to students and their needs. I stressed myself out so much it made me crazy. The night before class I'd go over each and every pose in my head perfecting each minute of the hour-and-fifteen-minute class. I wanted each student to get the most out of their time with me.

The only class I could teach without such a personal lashing was my kid class. The hour was pure joy. I'd come up with a theme and just wing it most of the time. Sometimes I'd weave a story and other times we'd draw animals and then pose like them. I saw an incredible amount of gratitude in the eyes of these tiny students. No judgement. No expectations (besides to have fun). And they gave me such happiness. More than I ever imagined. I vowed then I would only teach children.

Ah, but the universe can be sneaky. And sometimes what you push away in fear is exactly what you need in order to continue forward on your life path. That's exactly what happened to me.

I've be laying low since moving to Gainesville and away from the yoga studio in which I was trained and taught. I've attended different studios here to get a feel for what students want in this town and what classes are offered. I've seen a few great teachers, some mediocre teachers and a couple that I ran away screaming from. Through it all, though, the teeny weeny voice in my head kept saying -

"You're judging instructors just they way you judged yourself. That's not what yoga's about."

I started thinking about my yoga differently. I practiced at home daily and when I took a class I focused on one thing I gleaned from the teacher no matter if he/she performed a style that rang true for me or not. It was an 'aha' moment for me. I realized once again I had to let go and just be happy with the way things played out. I needed to let go of control even in my yoga!

I knew in my heart it was time to get off the bench and stop being a side liner with my yoga. It was time to face my fear on the mat. Time to get in front of an adult class and share my love of yoga, no matter if I fell flat on my face.

And guess what happened? Out of the blue there was a new class starting locally that had no teacher. I let it slip that I had been teaching a beginner class in my old town. That's all it took. Three days later I was on the mat in front of three students. I was scared to death. I took a deep breath, didn't look at the clock (except once) and felt my way through.

After I finished, a student came up to me and requested a copy of the Chinese proverb I had read at the conclusion of our practice. It read:

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."

Ah, the universe is sneaky indeed. I had meant the quotation to be inspiring to those taking the class, but it was more for myself. This student reminded me to get back on the path of my yoga teaching. Take that one step, no matter how scary it may seem.