I haven’t taught yoga since September. Nor have I practiced at a studio until recently. A Boston to Hilton Head relo, compounded by a bout of big city teaching burnout has reduced my practice to an occasional flow at home.
But the propensity to self-quarantine has to stop. So many signs are telling me so: a teacher pal I recently caught up with in San Francisco; a local vegan chef who admits she, too, talks to the Universe out loud; a neighbor who operates on brains imploring me to spread the healing powers of yoga. All are guiding me back to where I’m most at home – practicing and teaching at a community studio.
So I have. Been practicing at several studios around town to find the best fit. It feels so good. But oh so rough. Being a teacher is a blessing and a curse. There are moments in class I just wanna spring off my mat and hug the teacher.
Except she can’t see me.
Let alone feel me, or give me an assist and touch me.
I want to help so bad. Pull her out of whatever faraway land she’s gone to and bring her back.
Teaching is HARD. Damn hard. And I promise you I’ve taught a shitload of classes without looking a single student in the eye. Or getting within three feet of touching distance. Through tons of post-class inquiry (modern speak for Svadhyaya, or self-study, an integral part of every yoga practice), tough love and coaching from mentors, and a commitment to developing a stronger connection with my students, I no longer teach inside an inivisble silo:
- My mat stays in the car. Or at home. Never at the front of the room. Like a cat hiding under the bed, retreating to my mat when things get dicey thickens the wall between me and my students.
- I don’t f*** with the sequence. Some teachers can change it up on the fly. Most (in my strong opinion) fail dramatically. Now I stick to one sequence, know it so damn well I can recite it after 3 cocktails, and dodge the ultimate newbie faux pas: asking my students what side we’re on.
- I walk every grocery aisle. I know, the perimeter is the healthiest – produce and all that. Not so in a yoga room. In a live in-class coaching session, my mentor had to physically shove me away from the wall and toward a student waving me over for help. Get close. Closer than comfortable. Because in time it gets more comfortable.
- Call the pose FIRST. I’ve got notebooks and notebooks of clever cues and alignment tips that in the beginning, I spewed out fire-hydrant style before calling out the pose. I wonder how many strained necks I caused by forcing my students to stare up at me in frustration wondering what pose came next.
- Get in there! During my first teacher assisting training, I approached my partner like I was walking through Jurassic Park. “Get in there, Shannon!” our workshop coach said, guiding my hands onto my partner’s back. I kept them there until a resulting “ahhhhh!” of delight confirmed I was assisting a 100 Lb. harmless human. Not a scary dinosaur.
I can’t wait to start teaching again. I promise to let you when and where, and to do my damnedest to see you, feel you, touch you. Namaste.