We learn a lot during yoga teacher training, but did you learn about “the unexpected student”? If so, were you ever taught how to handle both your composure and your class while you break into a panic-stricken sweat? Here is my experience, and how I contained myself.
Throughout the months of Yoga Teacher Training for the 200HR Certification, you're reading history and philosophy, practicing asanas and verbal cuing, but what you may not be taught is how to handle real life yoga teacher teaching situations when you're teaching a class open to all.
How to embrace the humbling experience
As a new teacher, I was nervous, wanting my first class and beyond to go flawlessly. As unrealistic as this is, I would spend hours sequencing my class, using the peak pose method by Mark Stephens in Yoga Sequencing- Designing Transformative Yoga Classes. My second class, I had my notes by my mat for quick reference, as that seemed normal to me.
I spoke with each student as they entered, gathering insight as to where each individual stood in their personal practice. I began the class. Seeing where students are in their own practice is very enlightening. I couldn't figure out why one of my students couldn't get into Phalakanasa, Plank variation with knees down.
I quietly asked if she was in pain, trying to figure out what was happening. She politely replied "I'm pregnant." I kindly offered her a few light stretches, cats and cows, Chakravakasana, Sunbird variation, so she could stretch lightly as I carried the rest of the class through the flow.
No Such Things As A ‘Perfect’ Class
I was taught not to judge, nor assume. When you're teaching an "Open to All" class, it really does mean to expect ALL! You may sequence for any type of class, however, learning to expect all students will free you from the compulsion to teach flawlessly, transition perfectly, and rehearse the class in your head repeatedly.
From this unexpected experience, I've learned more about my inner self. I welcome the unexpected. As I watch my class, walking around, making hands-on adjustments, I become very aware of where my students are in their present practice. I no longer spend countless hours sequencing my classes, hoping to facilitate the “perfect” class.
One of the most important lessons I learned is that it is each and every student’s practice—it is theirs. I simply offer them a voice by asking if there is anything in particular they would like to work on, and find ways to help them.
What I Learned
Even though these moments in class might catch you off-guard, I believe encountering situations you weren’t expecting only helps you become more enlightened as a new teacher. It’s refreshing to let go, and realize and accept that you can’t always have control over what happens—in or outside of a yoga class.
Give yourself the freedom to explore your students a little further as they move and transition into poses. If hands-on adjustments isn't in the cards for you, another option would be partnering the students to explore (similar to Yoga Teacher Training). There are endless opportunities to remain in the present and explore asanas for your students.
Enjoy the practice, the teaching, and making sure everyone has their sacred space on their mat.
by Roxanne Dahl - Roxanne is a passionate yoga teacher with 200HR Certification, beginning her 500HR Certification in October. She loves reading yoga articles and sees them as a Karma tool. She wants to share her experience as a way of giving back to the yoga community for what she's read, taken to heart and used. You can connect with Roxanne via Facebook or Twitter.
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