Wednesday, September 21, 2011

On Teaching...

Today is officially one month since I completed my yoga teacher training.  Hard to believe, feels like it's been longer!

I am still not teaching right now.  But, I have noticed more and more lately this desire slowly rising in me to share what I have learned.  And there seems to be more and more opportunities thrown in my direction.  There are a couple of people at the studio I clean and practice at saying that they want to take my class and two of my teachers from college have said the same thing.  My roommate just sent me an email that her sister (who I've only met a handful of times) sent to her, to let me know about a well-known yoga studio that has openings for yoga teachers.  I have had around 5 people at the condo I work at who have told me that I should teach a class there at the building.  A young couple that I talk to regularly in the building want me to teach them privately.  If anything, that last one feels like the one that I am feeling most drawn to and would feel most comfortable doing.

I've also been doing more "sporadic/spontaneous teaching" to people.  Usually it's just one pose, maybe 2, or a concept...something they have a question about.  It's getting easier and feeling very comfortable.  Words just come out of my mouth easy and I don't even have to think about what to say.  I also feel like a lot of the information from the training is starting to integrate in my head, but only when I have someone to apply it to (outside of myself).  I noticed it a few nights ago when one my roommates asked me, "Do you know anything that could straighten my back?"  I told her that it depends on why her back isn't straight, lol.  Basically it's just because she has "desk syndrome:" her back is in a permanent hunched position and is weak.  One, because of the desk job.  Two, she has a very thin body frame and not a lot of muscle tone to support it.  The conversation turned into this whole mini-session where I showed her some basic poses that could help, broke out my anatomy book and explained what muscles were doing what and how that effected her body.  It was actually a pretty amazing experience.  First because I was stunned to hear those words coming out of my mouth and to see all the information actually coming together.  Second, because I was learning a lot too.  My roommate is what my teacher trainer, Jennie, would call a "brand new, baby beginner."  I had never seen someone who was brand new to yoga and not already athletic!  I was trying to explain how to put weight in your hands just from an all-4's position (on hands and knees) and that was hard for her!  I was originally going to show her how to do a Sun Salutation and immediately realized that it would be very hard for her.  And, suddenly, as we kept talking, I started drafting a sequence for her in my head!  I suddenly realized why YogaWorks sequences things the way that they do and why beginners have to start out with a lot of standing poses--because putting weight in their hands right at the beginning is to hard.  Jennie used to say, "you have to learn how to stand on your feet before you can stand on your hands."  I told Tamara (teaching assistant from my training and someone I also practice with in the Mysore room) about the experience and she said, "you're going to have to start figuring out your hourly rate!"  I said, "I'm not charging her!  She's teaching me!" 

It's like I couldn't really understand everything I had learned until I actually had someone specific to apply it to.  And that's one reason I feel more drawn to teaching privately right now rather than teaching publicly.  I have a lot to learn about how to teach and more than a couple of people feels like too much to take in and to respond to.  For example: the young couple that wants me to teach them.  The husband wants me to teach him "how to not die in a yoga class" and to help make downward dog less strenuous on his shoulders.  The wife wants me to teach her Crow Pose/Bakasana.  They are in two different places!  I've always known that yoga was originally taught on an individual basis--actually seeing the reasons why just emphasizes it.  Although, I feel like if I were to teach anything publicly it would be Ashtanga, because I know the sequence and, for a large part, it makes sense (minus not doing much of anything to stretch the hip flexors and quads in preparation for the back bending and not doing much of anything to open the outside of the hip in preparation for all the lotus positions--just a little reminder that the Primary Series was designed for a young, athletic boy (a.k.a Pattabhi Jois).  Which, again, is why YogaWorks sequences things the way that they do.  In the training, they said that both Iyengar and Ashtanga had their own extremes and were meant for the the very serious yoga student, and not someone who does yoga once or twice a week.  Again, after the session with my roommate, I really understand why.

So.  Here I am.  I am now really starting to feel a desire to actually teach and share what I have learned.  But what do I teach?  How do I do it?  The how part kind of relates to the what.  Where do I start?  What do I teach after that?  I feel like I need someone to teach me this part.  When I practiced karate, once you got up to the higher level ranks/belts, you assisted your sensei in the lower level classes and taught portions of the beginning of the class.  There are no lower level classes and yoga isn't taught this way--at least not at this, or the great majority, of yoga studios.  There is at YogaWorks studios...which we don't have in Boston.  Which is why teaching Ashtanga is appealing--there's a method to it, a set system of poses to work with and progress to.  And then there's that feeling that bubbles up whenever I think about actually doing it.  Whenever I think about teaching publicly, it kind of makes me feel like vomiting.  But, at least the desire is actually there now and I feel a little more confident about what I know.  That's a start.

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