January 2019 was one of the most exciting and exhausting months I’ve had in a while. Preparing to teach my first ever yoga class and hoping people would sign on to my Slow Vinyasa Yoga, 10-week course.
My free trial classes went pretty well. Some people signed up and I was thrilled. A small group of ladies, one of them my most loyal student and all-time fan, my mom.
I rent a studio room in a community center in the middle of the small city I live in. Since I don’t have a car, I rarely think of things like parking costs and finding a parking space. This was one of the reasons my class stayed quite small. A few more ladies that would have liked to join my 10-week course just couldn’t, because of parking.
Lesson #1: don’t assume you suck as a teacher! it’s not always about you, it can be just about parking location and convenience.
A week after my trial classes, I started teaching at my workplace. I was thrilled and nervous at the same time. Classes would be open to all! Total beginners, experienced yogis, men, women, those sitting at a desk, technicians, case handlers, instructors and firemen! eehh! My initial thought was “ok, there will most probably be women and practicing yogis showing up” I had only taught two classes before this one so I was quite nervous but since my colleagues are sweet and they know I am a new teacher, I was feeling like they were giving me a chance and I was grateful.
Two hours before class was about to start, a 20-week pregnant colleague approached me and said she was going to join the class and that she didn’t want me to say it out loud in class (ahhh!! wtf? I am so not ready to teach my very first mixed class to my work colleagues and modify for a pregnant lady, without being able to call out modifications for her) but I calmly said, “yes, of course, you are very welcome and just remember to listen to your body and I will come over and offer you some modifications” Craap! I ran back to the office and put on a video from the prenatal yoga module from my teacher training. I tried to take in all that my teacher Brett Larkin and Lesley Flightmaster were saying about modifications for pregnant women and off I went to teach the class.
The class took place in a huge gym hall, it was pretty cold and music from the gym room was blasting above us #yogaanywhere right? So how did it go? well, It was hard to stay focused on everybody. I mean there were 15 people! for me, this was a huge class. The team of firemen who were mostly complete beginners, but very strong of course. The pregnant lady who I was trying to help out, but did a pretty poor job at, older colleagues and experienced yogis. I talked so much about alignment and keeping your body safe. It was a very sloooow vinyasa class.
Except for the fact that the pregnant lady got a bit of a belly ache and a more advanced male yogi told me that it was just OK, I got pretty good feedback.
Lesson # 2: Do not assume that you know who will step into your yoga class! Give yourself a break, you are just starting out. Do your best always and keep teaching whether there are 2 or 20 students coming into your class.
Tip: Journal after every class. Things like, what kind of class was it, how did it go, what kind of feedback did you get, what will you skip or add next time? It’s a great way to see your progress and get better at teaching.
I love the way new colleagues get curious after they hear what their peers say about the yoga class and how it’s been making them feel and later join the classes. It’s also funny to hear things like, “you saved me x amount of money, I was just about to go to a chiropractor but after the class, it just felt so much better!” “I neeed this!” I am not sure how I feel about this but my wife says it’s good for me! “I feel so great after this class”, “It’s really hard, I am sweating!”, “this is a sacred hour in my work schedule now”, “thank you for calming our breaths” I mean wow!!
Oh and about assuming, half of my students are men! I never thought that I would be teaching yoga to so many men and such a mixed group of people and that I would enjoy it so much! I am learning so much about how to modify the postures and it’s great. I am so grateful that the Universe just threw it all at me at once!
It’s amazing how much you can learn from just taking action and start teaching right away even when you feel the fear of not knowing it all. Three classes a week and two months in and I am feeling pretty good and losing the impostor syndrome 🙂 and best of all I am having fun with it all! which is,
Lesson #3: let go of perfection and have fun in your classes. If you get asked a question you don’t know the answer to, say you don’t know but that you will research it and get back to them and enjoy the process of becoming a great teacher.
I thank every single yoga teacher I have ever had for everything they have taught me and still keep teaching me. I’ll keep learning, practicing myself and trusting myself, ’cause it actually works!
If you have any questions about being a brand new yoga teacher or how to get over the fear of getting started with teaching, drop me a line at email@example.com or follow me on Instagram @blissfulmovements_withgabbi