Teaching my first class

I feel like I have a problem expressing myself with words. Words used to come to me easily, or at least easier. Now I struggle to articulate myself even for simple things.

I taught my first public class yesterday. I feel slightly disappointed at myself, and I see now that there’s a huge gap between where I currently am at my teaching and where I want to be. It’s a huge gap and there’s so much I have to catch up in terms of learning all the skills of the trade. I feel like I’ve slackened off since after YTT. I haven’t been diligent in memorising my cues. That’s one of the major sticking points I have at the moment. The cues don’t come out fluently and I still have to pause to find the words in my head. And I feel that I am not present enough in the class, like my mind tends to drift off elsewhere at times, and that my energy isn’t high enough. Like yesterday, I was feeling quite low energy after a long day. It’s something I need to learn how to manage. Because when teaching a class, I want to be giving energy to my students, and not taking it from them. There’s still so many things to work on. And teaching yesterday’s class has really given me an eye-opener on what it is like teaching beginners. It has really challenged me to adjust my expectations of the people who attend my class. Not everybody can do the poses I sequence, even if I like the poses. Not everybody knows how to do the poses. Not everybody can open their hips in 3-legged dog. Not everybody can step their foot in between their hands. Not everybody has the right stance in warrior 2. These things that I take for granted after years of practice, new students will completely find it hard to do – just as I did when I first started practicing.

I guess I was just not prepared to face the unexpected situations that occurred in class. And that I went in with very different expectations – of students being able to do the poses without much difficulty. It was definitely an oversight on my part, because it was a Basics class after all. I was just not prepared, because teaching classes during TT was so different. And I was also a little shook at how much multitasking I have to do. There’s cueing, observing, demonstrating, adjusting, providing modifications… so many things to do at once, for so many students! And I’m still really not confident in my adjustments or modifications yet. And even cueing… I find it quite a challenge to articulate bodily movements with verbal cues as I’m just naturally not as talkative.

It is a little bit discouraging, because back in TT I was pretty confident in myself and thought that I was pretty good/OK at teaching because that was the feedback I was getting. But the reality is so different, and it feels as if I’ve overestimated myself. But I will grow with this experience, as shitty as it feels at the moment. I simply have to put in the work of planning my classes well, doing up proper scripts, memorising them, thinking of modifications, etc. There is so much more to learn and I am awakening to the fact that teaching yoga, at the end of the day, is practical. It is about telling students where to place different parts of their body, how to activate their muscles, how to modify poses for tighter/weaker students. It is about speaking, projecting my voice, giving clear instructions, naming the right body parts, establishing the seat of a teacher. It is very practical. As much as I love to bring in the more philosophical, “big picture” stuff into my classes, I simply have to nail this physical and practical part of teaching first. Giving proper cues, planning good sequences, adjustments, modifications, teaching students how to move. This is the crux of teaching an asana practice and I simply have to get good at teaching all this first.

I still have a long way to go and a lot to learn, but I will not give up. I am trying my best to view this disappointment as a learning opportunity and a stepping stone towards better teaching. After all, it was my first ever public class, and perhaps I should give myself some leeway. I’m a new teacher and I’m learning. I’m not perfect. And I’m learning to let go of the perfectionist in me. I have to be secure enough in myself to let go of the need to be perfect. I’m only human. A timely reminder for myself.

I am learning. I am growing. I am moving in the direction of becoming better everyday.

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