Since I passed my Introductory level assessment, I have been subbing quite a few classes since most teachers at the studio are or have been on holidays. This is ideal for me as I am planning to move to New York by December, so I don’t want to get a regular class when I will leave in a couple of months.
Even though I genuinely enjoy teaching at the studio, I oftentimes find subbing an ungrateful job. Some people are clearly surprised to find you instead of their usual teacher, and many are reluctant to even give you a chance at teaching them something. Because my style is different from their regular teacher (as is everyone’s teaching style at the studio, which could be surprising considering we all teach Iyengar yoga, sometimes thought to be so strict and codified!), the students become impermeable to any learning experience. And sometimes they make their discontentment very visible.
This is usually when my true yoga experience starts; when I have to let go of wanting all of the students to like the class (and by extent, me!). It’s hard work for me. It’s hard work to enforce my own instructions, I find it awfully difficult to know whether a student is not doing what I’m asking them to because they know their body better than I do, because they think they know better than I do, because they don’t see the point, or because they don’t even want to try. And the bigger the class is, the more difficult it gets to tend to everyone.
I usually try to adapt my style of teaching to the teacher’s of the class I’m subbing. Oftentimes it works quite well, and it enables me to explore different styles (even though I’ve been teaching for two years, I still feel very much like a rookie teacher). But in a large group, I often have to let go of all my plans for the class because said plan and students clearly don’t fit together. Some students are then disappointed that the class isn’t challenging enough. For now, I’d rather play safe than sorry, but I’d definitely like to get better at giving different options for different levels. That said, as a student I often learn a lot from “beginner level” classes, and I wish “advanced” students would pay more attention to the explanations rather than start doing whatever I’m demonstrating immediately.
I definitely need to learn to care less about what students think and be a bit more authoritative. I have to say I now understand way better why Iyengar teachers are seen as strict by other styles. It’s not that I want to be strict, but I am trying to teach something here, and if the students don’t listen, best case scenario they will miss on understanding the teaching point, but worst case scenario they might hurt themselves and I will be responsible.
That said. I’ve been told by my teacher I often look like I’m really angry when I’m practicing in a class setting. And it really is my “what-is-the-teacher-talking-about-I-don’t-get-it” face. Nothing to do with me being annoyed with the teacher. So I need not only to be more authoritative and enforce my teaching, but also be less self-centered and take everything personally. So subbing might be frustrating at times, but it’s definitely bringing its blessings in the form of personal growth as a teacher*.
Anyhow, if there are teachers from the US and/or more specifically NYC, I’m wondering what the best course is to start teaching once I am there. I will likely be on a scientist visa (probably J-1) so I am not even sure I would be able to teach for-profit, but I guess donation-based / non-profit classes are ok. Currently wondering if the US Iyengar yoga association helps moving teachers? Any tips welcome.
* During YTT, my own teacher once talked about how she wanted us to become yoga teachers, not instructors. She said that instructing someone to turn their feet and arms in different directions was easy, but that was only instructing. The teaching starts after, once you get students to go inwards.