Things I Love About Teaching

How Open Students Are to New Experiences

 

Sometimes when I ask the class in the beginning what they want to work on and crickets chirp, it can be disconcerting because I know that everyone has something they want to work on but are too shy to speak up. Sometimes though, I already have something planned and if no one speaks up, I go ahead with my plan. Many times it involves something new to everyone, which can be a little nerve wracking sometimes because you don’t want anyone to feel like they can’t do something or that the new moves are beyond them, but at the same time, their practices are never going to move forward if they don’t try weird new things. So, no matter how I’m feeling about what I’m planning to teach, I teach it because I eventually realize that my concerns have no merit. After these classes, the students almost ALWAYS tell me that they loved the new thing and can’t wait to practice it again. This blows my mind sometimes, just because it shows to me that people are so much more open minded than I sometimes give them credit for. It seems that everyone loves trying new things and even if it’s really hard, it gives them something to work towards, and everyone needs goals in their practices! Being consistently surprised by my students is just one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching!

Things I Love About Teaching

Sharing What I’ve Learned From My Studies

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One of the most important things to being a teacher, in my opinion, is to always continue being a student. I believe that there is never a point when you have acquired too much information, and if we ever think we get to that point, it should be obvious that there is a lesson to be learned there as well. Having said that, I don’t believe that you should hoard that knowledge to yourself and potentially become judgmental towards others because they don’t do things the way you’ve learned them. The thing is, people do things the way they do them because that’s how they’ve learned, if you wish for them to experience something that you deem important, then you must teach them, or they may never learn it! I am seeing this judgmental behaviour all over social media lately. There are a few huge instagram accounts and the people who have those accounts show incredibly beautiful expressions of inversions mostly, but some other poses as well. You always see other yogis telling them they are doing something wrong, from the way they point, flex, or floint their feet, to the way their legs are positioned. When I see these pictures, it’s quite obvious to me that they know exactly how to do those poses and don’t need the judgement to be able to do them. The most hurtful is when fellow yogis comment that the poses are not “yoga” and the simple fact that they are taking a photo of themselves doing yoga doesn’t make it yoga. I find that interesting because one of the eight limbs of yoga, yama, would probably frown on these comments. Yama, is the first limb of yoga and basically means self restraint, so showing reverence towards others, non-violent behaviour, etc.
ANYWAYS, getting back on subject. I totally believe that in order to avoid these behaviours, we all need to teach each other what we’ve learned. Sure yoga teachers have more of a specialty in sequencing the postures in the best way for our bodies, or knowing alignment queues better, but we can all show each other what we’ve learned. I was taught to always flex or floint my feet in poses like inversions, then someone told me the benefits of pointing my feet… For me, pointing my feet in inversions makes the pose so much stronger, I’ll probably stick with pointing my feet for the foreseeable future. When I teach a class and they try something a certain way they’ve never tried before, and it really resonates in their body, that is such an amazing feeling. The opportunity I get to share what I’ve learned with a room full of yogis is just one of the many reasons that I LOVE teaching yoga!!

 

Things I Love About Teaching

Every Time Someone Says They Can’t Wait Until My Next Class

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When I am wrapping up a class and someone comes up to me and says something like, “That was amazing, when’s your next class?” Or, “I love your classes, I always look forward to them!” Or, “I can’t wait until your next class!” etc. This is such an honour and joy for me. When I teach, I always ask if there is anything anyone was really hoping to work on, any particular pose, strengthening, stretching, or a mix. Sometimes people shout out answers, sometimes it’s like there are crickets in the room, either way it’s fine for me, I just love to share a little bit of my own personal practice. When I do my own practice, it can be pretty advanced or deep, but when I teach I like to do similar things, or ways to work towards what I do in my personal practice, or more accessible variations. Either way, when I teach, I’m sharing a little bit of me and what I feel is important in that moment. So when a student comes up to me at the end of class and says something like what I mentioned before it is so amazing to me. I really feel so thankful to be able to make a living doing what I love the most. Just like anyone, sometimes I have off days where I wish I could just stay in bed, but when I finish teaching and I get lovely comments like that, it always brings me back down to earth and reminds me of why I started teaching in the first place. Positive comments really reaffirm to me that what I am doing is truly my path and it makes me excited for everything I will learn in the future and share with my classes. The opportunity to share what I love in my practice and get such positive feedback is one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching so SO much!

Things I Love About Teaching

When Someone Says They Love My Voice

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So this post may sound like it’s more about my ego than about teaching, but that’s not how it’s meant to come off, really I am so grateful when someone says this to me. I’m not known for having a great singing voice (though I’m quite the car performer haha). When I was a kid sometimes I would get teased about my singing voice, or even friends would playfully tell me not to quit my day job. It wasn’t overly cruel, but it did eventually make me shy about my voice and absolutely terrified to talk in front of a group. I was probably one of the worst public speakers in any of my classes growing up, I would imagine how everyone was judging me, from what I was wearing to how my voice sounded. So when I took my teacher training, I didn’t even stop to think about how nerve wracking it would be to talk in front of a group until I had to introduce myself to the group I would be training with and I felt that same nervousness from back in my school days. Overtime, during our training, I got better. That group was so supportive, you didn’t ever feel judged. Then it came to my very first public class and I had 67 people in the class, I had this whole plan and theme weaved around Lady Gaga’s song “Born This Way”. It had just come out and I felt it was perfect for a yoga class because you shouldn’t feel the need to be doing exactly the pose that the person next to you, you should be feeling what your own body is feeling and work with that. However, when I saw just how many people were in that class, I freaked out just a little bit and just stuck to pure yoga, no themeing or anything. I made it through and felt like if I could make it through that I could make it through any class. So I got more and more comfortable and that was reflected in my voice. I like to teach with a calming voice even if what we’re doing isn’t that calming. Anyways, I slowly began to get the comment that I had a lovely voice or that my voice was soothing, or very relaxing. These comments meant way more to me than the people who made them ever probably thought they would. It was very therapeutic actually, it kind of undid some of that childhood teasing that stuck with me. So the more control I have over my voice to keep it calming and relaxing is like a two way street. I help to relax or soothe people and when they comment about it, it relaxes and soothes me and inspires me to work on it even more. Without taking the leap to begin teaching, I probably would never be as confident with who I am as I currently am. I would always be a little nervous of someone’s judgements (even if they didn’t really have any judgements). Just knowing that any small comment you make can brighten someone’s whole outlook is a powerful thing to know. I am so lucky to be able to teach yoga and experience all of my students’ yoga practices unfolding. Being able to receive the compliments and generousity of my students is just one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching yoga!

Things I Love About Teaching

When Someone Calls Me Their Favourite Teacher

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I know that having attachments to such things is looked upon as wrong, but being someone’s favourite teacher is not one of my favourite things about teaching because it fuels my ego, it’s one of my favourite things because it makes me feel truly honoured. When I teach, I share a bit of my own personal practice, maybe not my exact same practice, but the same flavour. I teach what I love and I don’t necessarily try to please my students (other than when I ask them what they want to work on, but that’s a different story).Of course I cater to the needs of my students and would never teach them something that would not be remotely accessible and I would always lead them through an appropriate warm-up, but I don’t tend to try and do the poses they want to do (mostly because the poses we hate the most are the ones we need to practice). So when someone comes up to me after class and tells me that I am their favourite teacher or that they absolutely LOVE my classes, it warms my heart so much. Something in them recognizes the fact that I am trying to help them progress through and grow their practice. The fact that I get to teach people what I love everyday and to hear them say that they love it is just the most rewarding part of teaching I think. I don’t walk into a class hoping to make someone love me, my view of how successful my class is does not hinge on people loving me, that has zero affect on my teaching, but the fact that it happens all the same (and no, not everyone loves me haha!) is such a plus. This beautiful added bonus is one of the many many reasons that I absolutely LOVE teaching yoga!

Things I Love About Teaching

Walking Into a Full Class

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I have been teaching for over four years, but one of the things that makes me so happy each and every time it happens, is when I walk into my class and it’s completely full. My very first class was one of these, I was teaching a community class and there were 67 students in the class, I was so grateful, but so SO scared to be teaching my very first class in front of that many people! I was so thankful for that experience because it felt like jumping into the deep end instead of slowly inching into the water. I feel like it helped me to quickly adapt to speaking in front of others. Not every class I teach is completely full and I am teaching a lot of private classes these days, but when I do walk into one of my public classes and it’s as full as the space will allow it, it really does warm my heart. It makes me feel like my offerings are appreciated and that in that moment many people NEED what I have to offer. It’s one of those situations that when you walk into the room and it is full, it just gives you an automatic smile, at least it does for me. I am so thankful everyday that people look at a schedule or this website and decide that they want to share their practice with me. I feel the best way to honour this and to show my appreciation is to keep being a student myself and make sure that my teachings are always evolving. The opportunity and privilege to teach a room full of yogis is so AMAZING and one of the many reasons that I LOVE teaching!

Things I Love About Teaching

The Journey It Takes You On

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Yoga itself is such a journey,but so far, the journey that teaching has taken me on has been so amazing and unexpected. When I was doing my first teacher training, I was working at a company doing account admin work, I was pretty miserable but it paid the bills. When I finished my teacher training, I was so very fortunate enough to get offered two studio jobs. So immediately after my training, I was balancing my fulltime job, my two studio jobs and my own daily practice. Overtime I began to LOVE my studio jobs and knew that’s where I wanted to focus my time, I felt like my fulltime job was just a job and the teaching was my life. It took me on a journey to find out the steps to start my own side venture where I could teach private classes. Again I was fortunate enough to get clients pretty much immediately and this was just another step on my path away from the corporate life. As time passed, I became more open to my situation and more comfortable with the idea of being happy and proud of my career. This naturally caused me to become less happy and tolerant of the fulltime job I had, it was a very abusive situation that I had put up with for far too long. Almost a year ago now, I took the plunge and turned my back on that place. After all the complaints I filed that went nowhere, after having my voice be drowned out for years, after shedding countless tears for the treatment I received, I was free. It was a scary feeling since it was a stable income, but now that my journey is more focused and not hampered by that place, my journey has been moving along so quickly and in such an aligned way. Teaching has afforded me the opportunity to buy my own home where I will be able to set up some new offerings (stay tuned in June for these incredible offerings). My stress level has gone down exponentially since leaving that place. And basically, I am here to tell you that if you are in an abusive situation, whether it be with a workplace, a significant other, a bully, or anything else, you can survive it, you will find the strength to get yourself out of that situation and even if it may seem scary, you will not only survive, but thrive with a much brighter and happier outlook. Teaching yoga helped me to find that strength and it is one of the MANY reasons that I feel so inspired by and LOVE teaching yoga!

Things I Love About Teaching

Reflecting on My Yoga Journey

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Over my years of being a yoga teaching, I find that teaching has helped me to reflect on my own yoga journey. Sometimes I find that when a brand new person walks into my class and this is their very first yoga class, it reminds me of my first yoga class. I remember to myself how I felt, what I liked and disliked, and I try to use that to make the new person feel more welcomed and part of the group. I also have a few students who have been practicing with me for years, and I find it so fascinating to see how far they have come and it helps me to reflect on that part of my journey. I know how important some of my yoga teachers were to my growth and progression and when I have students telling me that I’m their favourite teacher or that they love my classes, I really try to connect with them because I know how important that was to me. I guess you could say that my yoga journey has helped to shape my yoga teaching and I am so grateful for that. I try to see both the beauty and the potential in each pose and know that each student is on their own path of growth. When I started practicing, I had practically no strength and my asanas were displays of wild flexibility with zero integrity. I had some teachers who adjusted me constantly and made me feel very inadequate because I didn’t understand what the problem was. I also had some teachers who were patient with me and recognized that I literally did not have the strength to hold integrity in poses and needed help to get there. Having experiences like these has helped me in how I deal with students who are on extreme ends of the scale. Whether they are too tight or too flexible, I recognize that spending too much time adjusting them can make them feel very self conscious. Reflecting back on my own journey has made me so much more aware and that translates into how I teach my students. The awareness I have for teaching that I have been granted through my practice is one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching yoga!!

Things I Love About Teaching

New Found Understanding

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I so love and appreciate all the understanding I have gained through teaching. I understand so much more about this practice of yoga as well as my body and how general anatomy functions. I understand that different daily activities affect the way people can practice from day to day. I understand that yoga is not just about asana and that all aspects of the practice are equally important. This is all understanding I have gained since being a teacher. Before I took my teacher training, yoga to me was a really great exercise, particularly great in the hot room. I didn’t even know about meditation or anything about anatomy. I knew of pranayama simply because most yoga classes teach you to use ujjayi breath while moving through the postures, but I had no understanding of how vast the practice of pranayama actually was. I also didn’t understand what I was “supposed” to be feeling in some poses because with my level of flexibility, I just couldn’t feel it. After becoming a teacher and figuring out anatomy, and what muscles were being worked or stretched in these poses, I was able to find a better variation or completely different pose that worked the same areas. I also had a better understanding of how to build or structure a class to be optimal for my students. I learned how to both “wing” a class and also how to prepare for a class. When I took my first teacher training, I took it to become certified because I love yoga and wanted to make it my career. What I didn’t realize was that I would gain all this knowledge and understanding for my “yoga tool kit” and that I would continue to (probably forever) add to that tool kit and THAT’S one of the MANY reasons that I LOVE teaching!

Things I Love About Teaching

Compassion

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Through my teaching journey, I have found a much bigger capacity for compassion than I had before I started on my yoga path. Before I found yoga, it wasn’t that I wasn’t compassionate, it was more that I didn’t understand why people didn’t see or feel things the way that I did. If I wanted to go out and do something and my friends didn’t feel like it, I would often time feel annoyed because I wanted to do something, so they should too. Or at work, if someone didn’t get what I was trying to show them, I just couldn’t understand what they weren’t getting and it was very frustrating. It was a self-centered way to be and I was miserable, I didn’t realize it was because of my lack of compassion. When I began my teacher training and even for the first little while as a certified teacher, I didn’t see that everyone has a different experience of a pose in their body. Then, over time I came to realize that I have a very different experience of some poses in my body than many of my students do. It dawned on me that everyone leads very different lives and has vastly different life experiences which translate into their bodies and I had to honour that. If I teach a class in the “after work hour(s)” than I have to make it a stress-free class because these students could have had a very stress-filled day. if someone tells me about an injury they have, it’s my job to ensure they practice safely. This has crept into my daily life as well. If someone is angry, upset, frustrated, etc. I always try to see things from their point of view and understand them, rather than react to them. I feel it is so important to have compassion for those you interact with often, not only is it a nicer experience for them, but it helps you to stay more at ease and at peace with situations. The thing is, everyone thinks they have compassion, and we all do to a certain degree, but trying to actively understand and be compassionate rather than react to situations is so much easier said than done. It is a journey that I think would benefit everyone to work a little more actively with. I love that through yoga and particularly teaching yoga, this has happened naturally for me, it’s one of the many reasons that I LOVE teaching!