I taught a community/charity class at my studio recently. I got some wonderful emails of support beforehand from fellow new graduates. One of them told me that I’d be great provided that I taught from my heart. She’s a wise one.
She sought me out afterwards: “So how did it go? Did you open your heart?” Well, yes, I really think I did. I felt very fortunate in having four ‘real’ people come to my class, not people who frequent the studio. And I loved it! I really did my best to look after them. They were nervous, so I made them laugh a little. They were uncertain of their form, so I tried to make some space to recap some alignment basics, even within a flowing sequence. They were tense, so I made sure to attend to each of them physically and help them find some softness. They were mixed ability, so I gave a simple basic sequence but I also tried to inspire, demoing Bākāsana and supporting one or two of them to explore the pose themselves. We chatted a bit afterwards. One of them asked which classes on the regular timetable would be most like mine! 🙂 Surely that’s the ultimate good feedback for a novice. My teaching is simple and lacks polish, but it seems to have been well received. Maybe they felt it coming from my heart?!
Then I took myself off to a special class at the studio, run by a guest teacher from US (one of my teacher’s teachers in fact). It was something else. She had a super-fancy sequence full of subtle physical cues (awesome combination of energetics and anatomy) that were quite beyond me. I needed more time to explore the sensations, processing the teacher’s words and then trying to embody them. But I didn’t get too caught up in concerns. There’s always another time. Maybe next year if she’s back! And interesting to reflect how yoga teaching is transmitted… Her to him to me…
And the next day up at dawn. A bit of quiet preparation time at home, then a drive across country — all misty fields and swirling autumn leaves — to give a class in a country house before a friend’s wedding. What a privilege! Another opportunity to open my heart. There was such warmth in the room between family members that this was easy. No particular focus on alignment with this one-off class, just a desire to help everyone to find a comfortable place and keep them together. I offered a mantra, I worked a theme and matched the playlist. I think it came together. The bride seemed happy and they all looked so peaceful and beautiful in Śavāsana. I didn’t want it to end. I was filled with tenderness! I felt I knew these people a little, just after watching them moving for an hour.
It’s been an awesome week, offering what I can right now, taking some little steps forward in teaching, with glimpses of how it might unfold slowly. What my strengths and weaknesses are right now, where my knowledge is less sure… but with a sense of how it might flow forward if I keep working, keep offering — and keep my heart open!