One week down…

I taught my first evening class on Monday. It was an hour and 15 minute long all-levels vinyasa class. I borrowed (aka stole) a sequence from our Yoga Sequencing book. It was chock full of sun salutations, so I figured it was a good basic sequence that would cover all the bases.

I had 5 people show up, which is not too shabby for a brand new class and for a summer evening.  To be honest, I felt as if I struggled a bit at first getting into a flow.  About 1/2 way through, though, I started to loosen up and go off-script, and then I really started to enjoy myself. It seemed as if the class started to enjoy it more too. I think that’s a good lesson – the less tied to a written plan you are and the more extemporaneous you are, the better the class will be.  You can be more nimble and responsive when you’re not tied to your notes.

I used the same sequence for my 5:30AM class yesterday.  I had to tweak it a bit, of course, because this was just a 60 minute class. Plus I only had 2 people there which allowed me to do some experimenting.  I read this article a few weeks ago, and I was very intrigued by the balloon exercise. To me it seemed to really illustrate how to keep your core engaged during exhales AND inhales.  Since we had such a small class, I was able to try it out. I’m not sure the students thought it was super enlightening, but I think they thought it was fun to do something different. 🙂  We did a lot of that kind of stuff – just trying out different ways to get into asanas to see what works and doesn’t work for the particular body and day. It was fun and interactive.  At least I thought it was fun!  And they both said they will be back, so they must have enjoyed it a bit too.

That is SUCH a good feeling when people leave your class with smiles on their faces.  SUCH a good feeling.

I taught another lunch-time yoga class at work today too.  We started with some gentle breathing and then moved on to stretches and twists and a couple of standing postures.  We ended with a Gratitude Meditation, where you focus on someone that is indispensable to your joy and happiness. You steep your body in those positive emotions for the 5-7 minutes in savasana (which since this was a corporate class, involved sitting in a chair with your hands in your lap and your eyes shut).  During savasans, I gave everyone a very brief shoulder massage. I put orange essential oil on my hands (a tip from one of my Teachers!) and placed my hands by their face first.  As we ended the class, I shared this article with everyone.  I encouraged them to take 2 minutes every day to write down 3 very specific things for which they are grateful.  The reasoning is that doing this for 21 days will help rewire the brain to look for the positive instead of the negative in life.

The attendees (7 of them) really seemed to enjoy the class. I think 1 or 2 of them may end up trying out my class at Indigo.  Again, I felt so happy after the class.  It was so nice to be able to improve someone’s day.

So it’s been a good week of teaching so far.  Again, I’m afraid of blowing my wad too early. What if I run out of ideas??  What if I can’t think of anything new, different, or interesting to say in class??  But I just need to chill the f@ck out and have faith that fate or God or the universe will help me discover interesting tidbits each week to keep my classes fresh.

What do you like in your yoga classes?  What keeps you coming back?  If you’re a teacher, how do you keep your classes fresh and interesting?


Teaching for Realsies

Well, I did it.  I finally worked up the courage to talk to the owners of Indigo about letting me teach.  We settled on a Monday night class at 6:30PM and a Wednesday morning class at 5:30AM.  Yes, I typed that correctly, 5:30AM.  I want to teach at that time because that is the time that I want someone to teach me!  The only 5:30AM classes at Indigo are at the hot studio, and I’m still a little suspicious and distrustful of my ability to maintain 100% consciousness at the hot studio. So I wanted to give other early risers like me the option of non-hot yoga before work.

I’ve only taught one class so far.  I had 3 students – a very intimidating audience made up of my husband, my YTT friend Angela, and my friend from work, Beth.  The class went well overall.  I started it off with some seated meditation and some gentle twists.  I wanted to give people a chance to wake up a bit before doing anything too vigorous.  The rest of the class was made up of the usual suspects – sun salutations, wide legged folds, lunges, back bends, etc.  I didn’t really have a “theme” for this class; I just tried to find asanas that are good for waking up the body.  But I found that I missed having a story to tell about the class. It adds a nice bit of cohesiveness and direction.

Initially I am planning on doing a little experimentation to see what works – both for people who come and for myself.  Right now I am feeling a little overwhelmed by the possibilities and options – should I focus on a certain body part?  a certain “type” (soulful yoga)?  breath work?  athletic?  calming?  I know it’s important to build your “brand,” so that people who come to your class know what they are getting themselves into.  But I’m afraid that if I settle into my “thing” too soon, I will end up doing the same kind of class over and over again.  Maybe my thing can be experimental yoga – people can come to my classes to learn a little something new each week.  That would encourage me to keep reading and learning about yoga too.

We will see how it goes.  My sequence for next week was stolen directly out of our Yoga Sequencing book.  But I figured that’s legit because the writer was putting it out there as an example.  I figured I would try teaching someone else’s sequence and compare that to how the students and I feel when I teach one I develop completely myself.

The class I taught on Wednesday morning was an Hlo original.  The people who came (who are all friends and loved-ones, mind you), said it was good.    I felt a little choked at first – the words just didn’t want to flow out of me.  Was I nervous even though I had such a kind audience??  It had been a couple of weeks since I had taught, and I’m hoping that was the cause of my nervousness.  Hopefully teaching every 3 days or so will help me improve exponentially.

If you are a yoga teacher, please give me some advice on how you come up with class ideas and how you end up finding the voice and style that works for you!