Setting An Intention
I am a yoga teacher
A good yoga teacher who will help students find their own path
A kind yoga teacher who will meet students at the level they are at
A strong yoga teacher who will lead a class from beginning to end
A connected yoga teacher who knows how to handle a group of people and also relate to individual students
A responsible yoga teacher who makes my students my business
A confident yoga teacher who knows what I’m doing and projects it
A wise yoga teacher who sees the bigger picture
A grateful yoga teacher who knows I’m nothing without my students
I help my students improve that yoga practice
I believe in my students and hold them to their best
I encourage my students to overcome their challenges
I understand my students, their needs and their situations
I motivate my students to keep trying the right way
I enlighten my students on what yoga is about
I am a yoga teacher.
Ok. This is starting to get intense. I flew through the first two weeks of training in a burst of energy and am now flagging. Practicing six times a week might have something to do with it! I’ve been practicing regularly for a number of years, but have not practiced this frequently for a while, and certainly not practiced under this kind of pressure.
Memorizing the dialogue is also stretching my brain in ways I have not done in decades! I think the last time I actually memorized anything was in school. It’s mentally tiring. But it’s also keeping me growing, moving, learning … I look at it at brain yoga. Stretching my brain.
A couple of days ago I was so exhausted I wondered how on earth I was going to muster up the stamina to keep going for another nine weeks. The road ahead felt endless. I didn’t want to go to class. I even questioned whether I really wanted to do this. Maybe, I thought, I can drop out and just carry on doing yoga as a practitioner, stay in my corner, hide in my comfort zone, where no one bothers me.
But that thought didn’t last long. Of course I want to become a yoga teacher! Ups and downs are part of the journey.
On the bright side, learning the dialogue is getting easier. The same phrases are used, over and over again, and there’s a rhythm to the dialogue, which once it gets inside you, makes the words sink in faster and come out more smoothly. There’s also a voice to the dialogue that slowly gets inside your head, as you learn to speak with it. So a piece of dialogue that would have taken me two days to learn at the very start of this course, I could probably remember in a couple of hours now.
Delivery, presentation, effectiveness, confidence, connection, energy, inspiration … I trust those things will flow.
My practice is getting stronger and more refined too. Little details, like stretching my arm all the way to my fingertips (as opposed to stopping at my wrist or elbow) or distributing my weight over the foot evenly or making sure my hips don’t twist out of line, are getting ironed out. Bigger things are unfolding for me too—like unlocking my strength by finding the right alignment and correct points of resistance. Not knowing how to harness my strength has always been an issue for me. I am small and have loose, flexible joints; strength and stability don’t come naturally to me. So I have to work on those things. Discovering strength is huge growth.
Note I say ‘harnessing strength’ and ‘unlocking strength’ rather than ‘building muscle'; and that’s because strength is something we already have, it’s our potential. Even petite people like me have a lot of strength! We just have to learn to use our bodies in the right way so we tap on that strength, create the right channels for it to emerge. I remember a yoga teacher saying that to me very early on in my practice; I had no idea what he meant then. This is something yoga has taught me too.
On to week 4.
Phew. It’s starting to get easier. I’m settling into the rhythm and pace of this training, and practising six times a week is feeling more natural, not forced or strained. I’m noticing significant changes in my practice—my postures are getting stronger, more stable, more what they should be. These changes are not the result of any dramatic difference in how I have been doing the postures, but have come from subtle shifts, in the right places. Keeping a tight grip on my hands during standing head to knee, for instance, or making sure my arms are pressing against my head—with no gap in between—during half moon, half tortoise, balancing stick and standing separate leg head to knee. These small moves are like keys that unlock more of a posture, so that almost instantly a number of other things slide into place, taking a posture to a higher level.
One of the things I like best about yoga, that even after years of practice, you can still learn, still improve. It’s like peeling off layer after layer of an onion; as each layer comes off you go deeper, and discover still more layers.
Another result of a tighter, stronger, more focused practice is that I’m naturally taking a longer savasana at the end of class. My body and mind just sink into the last savasana, and I’m not springing off my mat to dash out of class for whatever my next appointment is. In fact, I’m coming out of savasna wondering where everyone else has gone because I’m one of the very last people left in the room.
A couple of weeks ago I was dragging myself through this course, and it felt like it would go on forever. Now I can’t believe we’re already at the end of week 4 and coming to week 5. Almost half way there.
Weeks 5 & 6
We’re at the halfway mark. I feel a mix of pain and pleasure. The weekend training hours are long and draining, and the almost daily practice is tough on my schedule. Also the course feels like it’s going on forever. At the same time, it dawned on me—we’re already half done! Wow, I’ve put in and achieved more than I realize. The past month or so have gone by in the blink of an eye, and before I know it, the course will be over, and the teaching will begin.
Weeks 7 & 8
The pace is stepping up now. We have to recall the dialogue for several postures at a go, where before this we only had to do one posture at a time. It’s to be expected of course; as ultimately we have to deliver the whole dialogue, all 26 postures, conduct a whole class! But because I’ve been used to dealing with just one posture at a time, stringing even just two or three postures together seems like a big task.
And so the realization washes over me, like a fire that is gradually being lit, growing from a spark into embers that eventually ignite into budding flames, I am transforming from a tentative, would-be teacher into a strong, confident teacher who is going to start teaching in a few weeks time! It’s really going to happen, and it’s just around the corner. Soon, all the practices and rehearsals with trainers and the other trainees will culminate in show time. The thought of this is both exhilarating and nerve wrecking.
If you had asked me to teach yoga a year ago I would have said I was not ready. This was even though I had already completed one teacher training course. I lacked confidence, the energy did not feel right and I was rudderless. Part of me felt that I should not have been feeling that way—after all I was a certified teacher—but I did, and while I did not want to continue feeling that way, I also had to respect the reality of where I was. I just wasn’t ready.
I have come so far since then. This second course has really prepared me to teach. In a few short weeks I will be teaching my first class. I can actually see myself doing it. I feel it. The energy to start teaching is reverberating inside me. I’m excited and raring to go. It’s falling in place, and I am so grateful.
One hot yoga training course, a yoga journey for a lifetime
Photo from BYCH Hot Yoga