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Shannon Brady

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.


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