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.
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.
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 😀