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Reflections on a year of yoga teaching

This post is an 8-10 minute read. It’s relevant to yoga teachers, trainee yoga teachers and interested yogis. (So go get your orange frappaccino and settle in)

An entire rotation around the sun has happened since I completed my yoga teacher training. So I’m sharing a few of my thoughts and observations from my first (nearly) twelve lunar cycles as a yoga teacher.

july. I fall out of love with yoga It’s a month since I graduated from my incredible teacher training with OM and I’m super pooped. A long-time friend asks me to teach a lunchtime class at her Studio. I’ve got all these ideas and projections about yoga teaching (I’ve been talking about doing my training for about five years – definitely too much thinking time). I’m literally pee-ing my pants with excitement about having my own classes. I’m also acutely aware of my lack of experience.

When I forget a cue, forget what side we’re on, forget what pose I’m teaching (I literally cannot tell you the number of times this happens!) all my words fall away, my confidence pancakes and I feel lost. I’m so restless to be the teacher I projected I would be, but it feels a long way off!

At the same time, my own practice falls away because it’s taking me so darn long to prepare the classes I’m teaching! I feel a little bit blue off my mat, nervous when I’m on it and exhausted from overthinking the bits in between.

august. I take a break and it’s yummy My family are having a big ol’ get-together and my hubby and I go join in. We return to the UK for three weeks of hanging out with family and friends. The change of climate, change of season and reconnecting with loved ones is just the tonic I need – my heart feels full. I get back on my mat, rediscover my home practice and my yoga love returns wholeheartedly.

september. coming back to teach, I massively wobble We return back to Wellybubs and it’s time to prepare my first week of classes. I clean the house, do the washing, stack wood for the wood-burner (it’s Spring for goodness sake). Basically, I procrastinate.

I chat with my exceptionally wise friend – and yoga mentor – Sandey She reassures me it can be tricky to get back on the (teaching) mat after being away. I feel so blessed to have a friend who knows this practice so well and shares her wisdom so freely. I get back ‘on the horse’ and love teaching my first post-holiday class.

october. I cover for another teacher A thing happens. This big thing. Another yoga teacher asks me to cover her class for a term. I feel ‘seen’ as a teacher. I feel thrilled to have been asked. I ponder the changes I’ll need to make if I seize the opportunity. (In my younger days, I’d have jumped in, feet first, and only then realised what I’d signed up for). I mindfully consider what this will mean for me, for my hubby, for the people in my clinic

And then I jump in and say yes. Yes, yes, yes!

november. teaching feels like work – ’til I’m on the mat I’m now teaching two lunchtime yoga classes and an evening class. When I’m not in clinic, I’m planning classes, thinking about planning classes or rehearsing classes.

I can’t remember the cues for downward dog. I don’t know the difference between reverse warrior and extended side angle. I feel scattered.

But when I teach, something happens.

I don’t feel scattered. I feel strong, I feel confident, I feel really happy. I’m loving having a go at this teaching thing. Even if I’m not where I projected, I’m standing (or sitting or crouching or lying) in a room, helping peeps get into their bodies and make peace with their minds, through the practice of asana.

After a lunchtime class, a yogi asks for the first time – do I teach other classes?

december. some time to rest It’s 20th December and my last night of teaching yoga before Christmas. My hubby and I are heading away to the mountain in a couple of days.

At the mountain, I luxuriate in days beginning with 1-2 hours of yoga and meditation. Ahhhh, so great to be in my body with my practice. I can feel the yoga ju-ju restoring me again – body to soul.

january. an easy start to the year I return back to yoga teaching before I return back to my clinic. Having time away has helped me see life more clearly. I’ve spent the first half of 2017 working out how to teach yoga. Then spent the second half, working out how I teach yoga. This year, I want to teach yoga from a meridian perspective, marrying my two passions of Chinese medicine and asana.

I ask myself, what do I need to embark on this journey?

february. getting clear I’m asked by the same teacher to cover her class for another 10 weeks. I’m thoroughly delighted several brave souls are willing – once again – to turn up and practice with me each week. Through all my left and right muddling up, through all my crazy word choices and slightly crazier pose choices: it feels good to be on this journey.

However, one of my lunchtime classes is struggling. I’m doing a lot of work to try and attract people. So I decide – for now – to let this class go and focus on the classes that hold energy for all the yogis in room (I remind myself that I’m an equally important yogi in the room).

march. discovering my place I’m in the middle of everything. I’m starting to lay the foundations for my meridian-yoga plan of action. I start creating classes themed around meridians, create a website, do the Instagram thing. I’m still teaching my two (non-meridian) yoga classes and I’m starting to feel into where next…

(It’s also end of the tax year and for us self-employed folks, accounts need reconciling and paperwork needs filing).

april. winding up for workshops After 20 weeks of yoga teacher cover, I decide to take the leap of faith and focus on teaching yoga from a meridian (or seasonal) perspective. So my evening classes end. (A couple of weeks later I realise evenings really are my nemesis – I lose the capacity for language around 6pm).

As a result, April gives me the space to create and facilitate my first yoga retreat day and co-host a yin yoga + sound bath workshop. As I’m preparing for these events, I’m feeling so utterly beyond my comfort zone – I lose the plot (Ok, ok, I lose the plot twice. Badly. Thank you hubby, you’re literally a gem).

My mind is racing with all the potential outcomes – y’know, not the good ones: Can I hold space for 6 people for 6 hours? Can I talk about yoga and Chinese medicine and then teach – weaving all those things into my teaching? Will my voice be loud enough over live instruments? Have I really ‘got this’?

Then I turn up to facilitate, host, teach and have literally the best time.

I love it. I’m living my passion,

Why was I thinking I hadn’t got this?! Of course I have. I love this.

may. finding ease May gives me the space to recover from creating the content for my first two events. Weekends offer opportunities to hang out with chums, run outside in the Autumn air and celebrate growing older with the man I love (FYI it’s his getting older we’re celebrating, I’m in total denial of any ageing processes).

Hosting the retreat day and workshop help me see I can step up and meet the challenges I keep setting for myself. I’m losing my nervousness about teaching. Each week, I now look forward to ‘yoga day Friday’ (Fridays have now become my day of teaching). 

I guffaw when I mix up my lefts and rights. I don’t mind publicly getting-mixed-up, because I’m human. I’m a human, sharing a physical and spiritual practice with a group of humans who also get-mixed-up just as much as I do. On and off the mat.

Although teacher training set me up for it, the last 10 months have solidified the practice of teaching from my experience as a yogi. Only as a yogi, can I translate out for others. My yoga practice is the anchor I teach from. Thanks OM team, I totes get it now!

I still rehearse my classes, but I rehearse them (a whole heap) less and I’m enjoying myself (a whole heap) more.

june. jokes and jet-setting June is almost here. June is special. Last year, I completed my teacher training practical exam (aka taught a class) on my birthday. This year, I’m back at OM (51 weeks later) running a Winter wellness yin yoga workshop – weaving together all the things I love. My carry-on includes my projector and some really bad dad jokes. Can’t wait!

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