A good friend of mine asked me whether I wanted to come over and practice my teaching skills on her today.
I haven’t started my training, but I’ve read a couple of the books and figured I had taken enough classes to at least show her a few of the basics – the Sun Salutations, at the bare minimum!
I had never really taught anyone before, except for my younger brother Frank when I first started practicing a couple of years ago. I was so excited about my new found passion that I went home to Nicaragua one Christmas raving about it, but found the only person in my family willing to indulge me was our middle brother. Of the four of us (I have a sister and two brothers), he’s the most in tune with Eastern philosophy, alternative medicine and abstract / non-Western thought, so it was no wonder I found a natural ally in him.
We went out to our parents’ patio, heated naturally to a balmy 90 degrees Fahrenheit, and I proceeded to show him a bunch of disconnected poses, which he seemed to pick up with ease. It was only when he nailed two somewhat difficult arm balances on the first try that I realized he had done this before and was just humoring his older sister in an attempt to be nice.
So, as I was saying, today was the first time I actually TAUGHT someone yoga. Or rather, the first time someone actually learned some yoga from me.
My friend and I agreed I’d come over mid-morning to practice for about an hour or so. To prepare, I got up extra early and went to a 7:30 AM class so I’d have the sequence fresh in my mind. Needless to say, the fact that we “sprung forward” and went to EDT this morning put a wrench in my ability to think and absorb at that ghastly hour, but no matter. I also had one of my trusty teacher training books with me, in case I forgot something.
I won’t bore you with what sequence I used or what I taught, but suffice it to say I stuck fairly closely to the Ashtanga Half Primary series – a preset series of foundational poses that are usually practiced in the same order – which is the basis for the kind of yoga I’ll be learning to teach starting later this month.
The good news is, I managed to fill up a good 50 or so minutes with yoga poses, made my friend sweat and had fun in the process. From that perspective, our venture was probably a success, and it was a great window into the kinds of things I will likely struggle with during my training.
The bad news is I felt really awkward and inadequate as a teacher. But I suppose that’s to be expected, given that I am not yet, well, a teacher.
I constantly felt compelled to fill the silence with drivel. I felt pressure to get my student out of the current pose and into the next one as quickly as possible. And I had a tiny clue as to what adjustments I wanted to make to my pupil’s poses, but didn’t know how to use my hands or my words get her to do what I could see so clearly in my head.
Of course once I actually get some instruction, some practice, and a handful of reps under my belt, it is likely the disquieting feeling of unease will fade and teaching will become second nature to me. Or maybe it won’t, and I will figure out that as much as I enjoy studying yoga, I will probably never be fully qualified to teach it.
I suppose it won’t be long before we all find out which it will be. Stay tuned!