Breaking my teaching cherry

I did it. I finally kinda sorta taught someone yoga.  My friend Marta was gracious enough to let me come over this morning and “teach” her some yoga. I say “teach” in quotation marks, because it was more of a conversation than teaching, but I’m still counting it!

Since it was just the two of us, I was super informal. I started out by teaching her about ujjayi breathing, which is a fundamental part of vinyasa yoga. Despite it being an integral part of the practice, Marta had never learned it before in any of her yoga classes!  We then moved on to a very simple, basic practice – cat/cow tilts, sun salutations, vira I and vira II, lots of planks, chaturanga, spinxes, etc. We did some bridges, twists, inversions, and then corpse pose.  During savasana, I gave her a little neck and face massage, and then I did this relaxation technique that one of our YTT trainers taught us.  While the student is laying on the floor, you pick up their legs and slowly swing them side to side (in a figure 8) as you lower them back to the ground.  It feels amazing.

So, how did it go?  Here are my observations.

1.  It’s really hard to remember right and left!!  I don’t know if I will ever be able to mirror, meaning if I’m facing a class, I will be moving the right side of my body, but I’ll need to instruct the students to move the left side of their body. How can something so simple be so confusing??

2.  It’s much harder than I anticipated to demonstrate yoga whilst also explaining to the student what they should be doing. It was easy for me to get out of breath.

3.  It’s a good idea to initially practice with someone who is as patient and easy-going as Marta! I lost my place a few times and stopped and sat down to explain things, and she was totally fine with that.

4. Despite doing quite a bit of yoga and reading a TON about yoga, when you are trying to explain to someone else HOW to do it, a lot of the information flies right out of your head.  I think I’m going to update my class notes with a couple of key cues to use for each pose.

5. I thought the sequence that I wrote up would last about an hour, but boy was I wrong! It was about 1/2 that, and that was with us chatting a bit during the flow.  I need to think about how long to stay in each pose. I think I moved us through them too quickly. My struggle is, it’s hard to keep track of how many breaths we stay in a pose because I’m talking during them!

Overall, I really enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned with Marta.  She said she enjoyed it too because in all the classes she’s taken, no one has really shown her individually how to do the pose or explained to her the proper alignment.  I think that’s just a byproduct of going to classes with lots of other people. Even in classes labeled for beginners,  teachers don’t spend a lot of time explaining things.  It DOES disrupt the flow, but I think that for people just starting out with yoga, it would be really helpful to get the mechanics down before doing a truly flowing sequence.

It was a good experience.  I need more practice though.  For our YTT program, we have to do 10 hours of community teaching. But I want to do more one-on-one teaching with my friends and family before I go out and teach strangers!  Also, teaching Marta helped me realize that I really need to study anatomy more. I know the basic muscle groups, but it would be nice to look at a person and understand what the muscles and bones are doing beneath the surface.  So much to learn!


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