I got home from work yesterday and Hubby decided he’d like me to lead him through a yoga practice at home. No prep time, let’s just do it! All things considered I think it went rather well! I’ve never tried to teach a vinyasa practice before (I’ve barely tried to teach anything before!) but I kept him going for more than an hour I think (no spare brain cells left for clock watching). I led him through a pretty flowing sequence at a pace that was enough to keep him focused but sufficiently measured for me to have a bit of thinking space. I wasn’t over-ambitious in the number of poses, but I offered good variety.
It’s weird teaching someone you know very well, but we did a pretty good job of respecting one another on the mat. I wanted us to start on our backs, he wanted to start in child’s pose (“It’s how I always start”) — so I graciously started where he was comfortable and subtly led him where I wanted us. We warmed up focusing on hips and spine, moved through some slow sun-salute based sequences (with a side-track on Uttanasana since that was clearly bothering him), into some standing poses, with a few gentle twists thrown in here and there before a bit of backbending, and then a single forward fold (his least favourite thing ever) to quieten down before a generous savasana (his second least favourite thing ever). And a closing single OM during which we both managed not to appear too self conscious!
- finding sun salutes really hard to do and cue simultaneously
- forgetting where we were in the standing sequence on the second side and having to do what any good teacher should do in such circumstances and just follow the student!
- feeling vertiginously underprepared for what level of detail or with what focus to cue each pose (is there a single identifiable main action in a pose? do you start in the centre and work out, start with the feet and work up etc?)
- confusing hands and feet — just as well he didn’t do what I actually instructed at various points!
- working on Uttanasana in several ways: focusing on lengthening spine and aiming for deeper fold at hips (I experimented using the back of a chair to rest on to encourage him to feel spinal lengthening half way into the pose with a flat back before gravity and ego took over on the way down) and, once folded down, in playing with the weight in the feet to experience more engagement of hamstrings or quads through weight more in heels or toes. He looked and felt so much better at the end of this detailed work. Small result!
- recovering from getting lost in my sequence by realising that he didn’t care I’d gone wrong, he just cared whether I carried on. It wasn’t about my experience, it was about offering an experience to him. This was the biggest lesson!
- just being able to keep going through an unprepared sequence, trusting that I am experienced enough in my own practice to offer something safe enough and balanced enough
- Hubby’s calmness afterwards.
I asked how my guidance was. His simple was answer “fine!”.
So it was…fine.
He’s happy for us to do this again. So I won’t crave approval or feedback. I need to trust that I am aware enough of basic, common sense teaching dos and don’ts, of our respective abilities and tendencies, and of safe poses and sequencing to do no harm. If it was good enough for Hippocrates in medicine it’s good enough for me in yoga.