Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shifting from student to teacher.

Today, in my yoga training, all 12 of us had the responsibility of practice-teaching for the first time. When I heard that today was the day, I tensed up and I thought, "Oh no! I can't be ready yet."

I followed directions, and started to create a sequence of warm-ups from my enormous book of postures. I devised my plan, and decided that it would hopefully suffice for my first time. Before it was my turn to teach, I anxiously reviewed my notes over and over again.. Telling myself things like, "Don't forget to tell them they can use the strap during navasana (boat pose)....Don't close your eyes! Don't forget this, Don't forget that."

Despite the fact that I ended up completely forgetting to remind them about the strap and I caught myself with my eyes closed a few times, I loved every minute of my first practice-teach. It made me realize that I am capable of leading students in and out of postures, with ease and gentleness, but also with a healthy dose of challenge and endurance. As I flowed through the postures, and led them through, I felt organic, I felt natural...I felt like I was just hangin' out with my friends. I felt joyful and in love with the present moment. I felt like I have what it takes. And I know that allowing self-doubt to fall away is how I will be able to reach the place where I am teaching to my fullest potential. And I know that will come.

A few days ago, I kept imagining myself, or trying to imagine myself teaching classes, and I has this little  negative voice in the back of my mind, saying, "Can you do that? Can you really provide people with a practice that leads them to joy and peace and acceptance... like other teachers have done for you? Can I provide an atmosphere and attitude for people to feel comfortable in their bodies and minds, help them to let go emotionally, to heal physically, and to relax and rejuvenate after or before a hard day's work?" I wasn't so sure about all that. But, the good news is, the tables are turning, whether that little pessimistic voice in my mind likes it or not. And, the confident and compassionate yogini in me knows I can and WANT to provide all of these benefits to people.

But the main thing I discovered is how compassionate a yoga teacher should be in order  to provide his/her students with the most beneficial and worthwhile practice. Transitioning from the student to the teacher creates a giant shift in perspective and consciousness. Teaching classes is not a self-focused endeavor, like a personal practice, or being a student. It is not about focusing on my inner peace, joy, fear, pain, etc.... It is about theirs. It is about sharing my own deep love and knowledge of the practice of yoga with an entire group of people. My eyes need to be open and connected to see where they are, how they are feeling, and what is or is not working for them. It is more necessary than ever to be complete and 100% present in the moment.

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