It's been just over six months since I started teaching, and I know this for certain: I love it. I'm incredibly honored to be able to share yoga with others and watch in wonder as students rise to new challenges, discover new abilities and create a wildly supportive community.
As with all forms of yoga, teaching this practice is full of lessons. Some of which I'm only just beginning to grasp, but all of which continue to surface and remind me that, while I might be a teacher, I am, first and foremost, always a student.
Leave it at the door.
When you teach, you need to show up. Fully. The 9-5 job, the bills, the to-do list, none of that matters when it's time to guide your students. Do whatever you need to ground yourself, let it all go and be in the room as your most complete self.
You think you know a person but you don't.
Your friends, your colleagues, your teachers, your spouse (eek) and everyone interested in your journey will come to your classes. You think you've seen them try. You think you've seen them succeed. You think you've seen them struggle, triumph, fall, laugh. You haven't. You haven't seen them in this space, in this way. You have the privilege to witness those closest to you through a new lens.
No one wants you to fix them.
And with that new, shiny lens, you need to practice control. You are merely a guide. You are not your student's fixer, doctor or therapist. All you do is create the space, craft the movement and guide the breath. The rest is up to them, from diving deeply into who they are to experiencing the joy that comes with this practice.
So put aside the concerned friend, the encouraging wife and the go-getter teammate. It's time be a teacher.
Don't be afraid to explore.
The longer I waited to step outside of the sequences (although, ironically, I was taught how to do so thoughtfully), the harder it got. Be creative, be daring, do things differently. We ask students to trust the process, so I'm telling you: Trust the process!
And you may even need to become comfortable exploring in a class (GASP). The majority of my classes never go exactly as I have planned, whether it's because of the skill level, the mood or maybe we're just really jamming on nailing that down dog today. Trust your training and pay attention to the room. Bird of paradise may not be in the cards today, but that's okay!
You will make mistakes.
All. Of. The. Time. And you'll live. Your students will live. Own that you aren't perfect. I'm awful at left and right when they are true lefts and rights but then ask me to mirror. Hahaha! I've gotten better, certainly, but I'm immeasurably grateful for the patience and kindness of the students. And with that...
Your students want you to succeed.
Really truly. 99.99% of your students don't want you to biff it. They want you to rock it. They want to take a great class, and they want you to teach it. And I want you to want to succeed just as much as they do. You will be your biggest critic, but you owe it to yourself to trust the room, trust the students and, most importantly, trust yourself.