Don’t get me wrong, we generally have an idea of what poses or sequences we want to do. But a lot of the time, based on the experience levels or energy in the room, we have to change our plans as we go. Sometimes, we go into a room of students, get a feel for the class that day, and go from there.
Inspiration comes in many forms when it comes to teaching a yoga class.
I’ve written before about drawing inspiration from what happens in class, but I never expected how often it would come up. It can be anything from noticing that your class isn’t nearly as focused on their breath as they should be, to the playlist you threw on, to a comment someone made to you earlier. Almost anything can be spun into a powerful theme- last week one of my teacher’s had her car broken into that morning, and made an incredible class around the lessons she learned.
People will think you’re a doctor.
While most yoga teachers are well-enough informed to modify for/prevent injury, we aren’t trained medical professionals. You’d be surprised at how many students come in seeking advice that is best suited for their medical care provider.
You won’t make everyone happy.
Your class will always be too hot, too chilly, too fast, too slow, too loud, too boring, too something. Someone will always ask to open a window or have the music turned down, it’s inevitable. At some point, you just have to do your own thing and know that the people who love you will come back and the ones who don’t won’t.
Some people might walk out.
Seriously. I’ve only had it happen once, but it can feel pretty lousy. It’s happened to almost every teacher I know- some people just have to leave a class either because they really aren’t jiving with the teacher or legitimately feel too uncomfortable to stay. Be prepared to keep on teaching and put the people still in your class at the top of your priority list.
There are some days where you won’t want to teach.
I adore teaching. Everything about it: the connection with others, the creativity, the freedom. But there are some days where you’re tired or grumpy or just plain don’t want to. And often, I’ve found I’m able to teach a pretty dang good class as long as I go in with a strong intention to deliver what people come for. In the end, the class has to do the work, and you’re only there to facilitate growth and offer options.
You don’t just sit quietly while students are holding yin postures or resting in savasana.
As a student, I was completely oblivious to what the teacher was doing most of the time, because I was so focused on what was going on on my mat. Once I went through teacher training, I learned about the art of assisting, and was able to see how much teacher’s do in what I once thought was “down time”.
It can be exhausting.
Think about how you feel at the end of a good yoga class- one that really got you sweaty, spoke to the lessons you needed to hear that day, and maybe even got you teary eyed in savasana. You feel wrung out, but in a good way. It’s that “yoga high” that causes people to leave the studio without their shoes, or get to the parking lot before running back to grab their keys. It can be really emotionally and physically draining to teach, too, especially when you’re doing it multiple times a day.
Front desk staff are blessings.
I worked front desk before becoming a teacher, and never saw how necessary the role I played was. Sure, I knew I helped with checking people in and getting people settled, but I never realized how difficult it is to play both roles. On days where I’m teaching and checking in, things can get crazy. I’m always so relieved when I see someone is there to help, so I can focus on getting grounded and centered before my class.
It’ll change who you are.
You won’t burst into a fiery explosion of enlightenment or anything, but the first time you teach a class you’re truly proud of, or the first time a student tells you your message changed their perspective, you find a new sense on belonging. A new sense of purpose. Suddenly, you’re not a nervous TT reciting the same sequence from memory and struggling just to remember what “Sun B” is. You’re a teacher. A real teacher. Someone who shares stories and lessons and forges connections deeper than you thought possible in a 75 minute yoga class. It’s a change I didn’t see coming, but one that I’m grateful for every day.