Lessons from a week of heavy subbing

Last week, since many of my colleagues were on holidays, I got to sub many classes at the studio on top of my regular PhD workday. I subbed almost a class a day, either before or after work as well as Saturday morning.

It was tiring, but I managed pretty well and even though I would probably not enjoy teaching that much every week, it was a very interesting experience and I learned a lot. In random order of importance:

Lesson n°1: I genuinely enjoy teaching. I already knew this, but I realized that if I could combine such a heavy schedule with my regular life and still feel inspired, it means this is a genuine calling and something I should keep in my life.

Lesson n°2: I’m getting better at remembering names. This used to be a huge issue for me, since I am really bad at remembering new people’s names. But somehow it is getting better, and I’m also feeling more at ease asking again if I forget someone’s name. Yay me! 🙂

Lesson n°3: Oh, the awareness. My teacher once told me that they (teachers) could easily see who would be interested in following a teacher training. That at some point, it was the logical next stone on the paved road. I don’t think I got what she meant until this week. Of course, you can be a dedicated yogi without ever teaching; however I really feel like teaching opens new doors in awareness. It’s not only formalizing what you know by putting into words; it’s also understanding your own body so well that you can replicate how someone else might feel in theirs.
Demonstrating is also a skill in itself. It’s seeing someone (so an outward perspective), replicating what they are doing with your own body, which you can only feel, and then change it in a way that is visible for them to see the correction they have to do, so that they can feel what they need to do. When you think about it this way, there are so many outwards steps it’s amazing it even works at all.

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What teaching feels like sometimes. Creds: this image seems to stem from the emotional intelligence field infographic; hoever I was unable to find the original author. Please contact me if you know who owns rights to this image.

Lesson n°4: Sometimes, you just don’t know what is “wrong”. It’s ok to admit it. I had someone tell me they feel the front of the knee in the back leg when in Virabhadrasana 1. I’d welcome any input on why that might be…

Also, sometimes you mess up right and left or get confused and say something wrong. I’ve had someone tell me they genuinely enjoyed my class after I thought I screwed up quite a few instructions. So don’t beat yourself over it, it’s probably only such a terrible screw-up in your mind.

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Front of the knee in the back leg, anyone? (creds: yoga anatomy from Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews)

Lesson n°5: Linked to 3 & 4 though, I have improved a lot in looking at people. So I usually have a pretty good idea of why they feel their lower back or their neck in specific poses and how to modify. And sometimes I don’t know precisely why but I see where their alignment is off, and if I correct it it improves whatever they were having issues with even though I don’t see the link yet. So always start by checking the basics (ground these feet!).

Lesson n°6: I can instruct someone else to demonstrate. I know it’s commonly done, but I had never done it until this week, and it’s a useful skill to have. It’s easier to talk if you’re not in the pose, especially if said pose it hard for you. Furthermore, while I am very flexible, demonstrating some poses improperly warmed up scares me, and I anyways should not demonstrate inversions when I’m on my period. Which leads to n°7…

Lesson n°7: Gosh it’s hard to remember to ask if anybody is on their period before getting into inversions! Especially with students you don’t know / very beginners who might not know this. Thankfully the few times I forgot to mention it, either people told me or I remembered midway through but nobody actually was menstruating. While it’s really not an issue to give an alternative when prompted, I guess I am usually a bit too busy with my sequencing and getting everyone in their pose safely that I forget.

Lesson n°8: Teaching really stems from personal practice. Teaching many classes and making them different, entertaining, and hopefully a new learning experience for the students, consistently, is hard. Not that I had any doubts about this beforehand, but now I have personal experience confirming it as well.

Well, that’s all for now folks, now I’m off for some holidays at home in my beloved Brittany; where I’ll hopefully be able to practice on the beach 😀

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Veg’anniversary

I can’t believe it’s been a full year since I became a vegetarian, first as a month-long experiment which ended by being fully integrated into my lifestyle. It’s time for an assessment.

Original blog post of the experiment

So, what happened meanwhile?

  • It wasn’t nearly as hard as I originally thought it would. I was already not eating much meat/fish, so the home transition was easy peasy. I only need a little bit more planning when I am eating out.
  • I had “the talk” with my parents (understand: mom). It ended up with the disloyal “I wonder what your grandparents would have thought” to which I answered that they’re not here anymore so it definitely doesn’t harm them. And though she does not understand my choice, she respects it, and that’s good enough for me. It’s weird for me that she keeps on telling me what type of meat she has been cooking, but I just nod and keep going. I cook for myself when I’m home, and I cook a full vegetarian meal for the whole family once or twice during the few days I’m there.
    My (older) brothers are more understanding, but still question some of my choices, like not eating seafood. However, they are trying to reduce their consumption and eat vegetarian once in awhile, so they don’t feel culturally attacked like my parents.
  • I still kind of like the smell of meat, but it seems very strange for me that people eat it.
  • I’ve started reducing my consumption of eggs as well. I don’t have anything about consuming eggs per se, if they were coming from happy chicks in my garden, but knowing that male chicks get grounded alive and the remaining female are debeaked makes me want to throw up. Since I can’t watch a video like this without hiding my eyes, I decided I should do something about it:
  • Talking about which, I once again had the realization of how many eggs are in everything! I remember when I got diagnosed with a milk (casein) allergy, I realized that I was eating SO MANY milk products in a day and I had no idea. Now that I’m paying attention to eggs, same old same old. Many prepared products such as pasta, bread, puff pastry, or even QUORN, contain eggs.
  • I got an omni, flexitarian boyfriend, who happily eats whatever I cook (and is actually hooked on coconut bacon)  but will still order meat from time to time if we eat out. I want to watch Earthlings again (I watched it way back in 2010, five years (!) before I finally acted on it, which shows how strong peer pressure can be) and he said he would watch it with me.
  • I bought my very first vegan bags from Matt&Nat. I might as well vote with my money and support brands who make a clear effort toward sustainability (and cool designs!).
  • I still have issues talking about my choices. Even though I feel much better since I am living accordingly to my principles, I have issues advocating the vegan lifestyle. Yes, I know it tastes good, no, I still don’t want to try it. You do you, I do me.
    I find it problematic because many people are misinformed and may potentially change their mind upon being provided with new information about the food they eat.
    On the other hand, few people are genuinely interested in what I have to say, the large majority just wants to hear that it’s great I’m doing this but it wouldn’t work for them (best case scenario) or that I’m stupid (because I’m not eating meat so I’m deficient) and what I’m doing is stupid, and do I really need to be this dogmatic?
  • The opposition veganism gets from people still astonishes me. Even when I wasn’t vegetarian, it never crossed my mind to attack people who would not eat meat. After all, veganism is all about reducing suffering as much as possible, whether it is the planet, animals or humans. However, I see in my surroundings that some people have really strong, gut-wrenching reactions to a simple proposal of going to a vegan event. Said people, however, enjoy the animal-free food I cook…
  • But there’s progress! More people, sometimes the least expected friends, diminish their meat consumption and/or try food I bring to a meat-heavy barbecue. Hopefully, by showing that I can enjoy a meat-free life and have delicious food nonetheless, I help bringing meat consumption down.

Oh, and if you’re wondering how I celebrated, well  I made my first jackfruit pulled “pork” recipe, nice burgers with horseradish and pickles ❤