In my teaching this week I was thrown off what I’d prepared by a comment at the start of class which kicked off some ideas in my mind and the moment I opened my mouth I found I was extemporising from her comment instead of doggedly sticking to my prepared plan. The physical sequence was broadly the same, but the way I taught it was not quite as I’d prepped. After opening class with OM I fell into talking about the sacred syllable, the 4 sounds, 3 heard and one silent, about cosmic vibrations and the notion of unity in the universe, the qualities of sound (embracing and comforting or energetic and expanding)…. Some stuff like that. And I tried to pick out these ideas from time to time during the asana sequence, referring to the energetic quality of the shapes and ideas of what is manifest and not manifest.
I hope it made some sense — I don’t really remember what I said, but it definitely arose from my own reflections, practice and experience. Since it wasn’t at all what I prepared, it was from my heart rather than my head. No prepped script, no careful research, no weighing of words. Just a free-flow of ideas that I didn’t know I had in me. This is how I always want my teaching to be, but usually I find myself held back from saying what I really want to share. I guess in time one learns to trust that students want authenticity, even if it sounds a weird and a bit ‘yoga-speak’, especially if their own experiences don’t (yet) match up.
I was chatting at the weekend with a fellow student who was commenting on our own teacher’s take on yoga and his way of communicating that to us. She mimicked some of the more esoteric-sounding things he says in class, but she was smiling fondly as she did so, referring to him as sometimes ‘being full-on yoga’ and obviously delighting in his passion and enthusiasm, even if she doesn’t quite get it always. Maybe my teaching this week was my own modest way of ‘being full-on yoga’
I loved this piece I read recently about finding one’s voice as a yoga teacher — a personal perspective after 7 years of teaching. It really spoke to me, even after just 7 months of teaching. Precocious or what!? I constantly ask myself what I’m trying to say in my classes, how to translate my practice into something meaningful, accessible and enjoyable for other people, wondering what is the point of any of it.. So many questions and doubts. What is yoga anyway? I flip-flop back and forth between the extremes of wanting never to teach again to mentally drafting a letter of resignation to my office-boss and throwing myself (and Hubby with me!) into a whole new more radical way of living where Yoga runs the show… I do neither of those things. As a good yogini I know it’s usually about balance and only sometimes about daring leaps! But this week’s teaching felt just a micro-step towards how I imagine my teaching might be one day. Practice, practice, all is coming.
And the next day at the studio where I attend class I was chatting with someone in the changing room. She has amazing physical practice, makes the sort of shapes I can only dream of (and has such long legs I can only dream of! 🙂 ), with many more yoga-years than I have. And she asked me to tell her if I ever covered a class there, because she’d attended my assessed practical at the end of my TT a year ago now and she still remembered how it made her feel: safe and grounded. Oh my! I’d better start believing in myself.