Teaching Yoga for the First Time

It is so cold today and the snow is falling thick and fast, so I thought it would be an ideal opportunity to stay inside, keep warm and reflect on my experience of teaching yoga as a newly qualified teacher before we move forwards into the new year.

The decision to start to teaching yoga was not an easy one, I knew my work load was heavy, but I felt that I really wanted to get going with the teaching. I resolved that there was never a right time to start something new and so set about preparing my very first 8-week beginners course. I am so passionate about teaching and I love it, it feels very natural to me and do not have any issue in speaking in front of a large group of people which has always seemed strange considering I am not a person that seeks the limelight. When I deliver any training my tone of voice completely changes, as does my posture and the words just flow without any effort. I always trust my own timings, so I work out what I have to say and then just deliver in whatever time I have, and it just works.

With all my teaching and workshop facilitation experience in mind the prospect of developing an 8- week course wasn’t so daunting. I also had a framework to work around that my teacher Mick had provided as part of the yoga teaching course and I was able to entwine my own ideas into the sessions to make them more in line with my own style of teaching. What did make me feel more nervous was the thought of teaching something new that I wasn’t very experienced at to others. Whilst training we had practiced in class but somehow teaching on my own to my own group of students felt very different. As the first class approached I could feel myself becoming more and more nervous but in the back of my mind I kept thinking it’s going to be okay and thought of all the preparation I had under taken and I had prepared, I had prepared the first session as if I had never practiced yoga before in my life to the point where I felt exhausted.

On the day of the first class my work calendar was full and in between meetings there wasn’t really much time to think about teaching yoga plus I had arrived in the place you are when you are approaching an exam or an interview for a new job, there isn’t anything you can do, you know it’s coming and you just need to embrace the experience and just go for it and give the best you can.

Not long into the first class I remember there being a moment where all the students were in Savasana and I started to panic as I thought to myself I really cannot do this, but I stopped my unhelpful thoughts from going any further as I remembered who I was. I remembered all the times I had taught, from the first student nurse I mentored to developing and delivering infection control programmes in Northern Uganda and not to mention the very first time I delivered a beginners’ jewellery making workshop. All those experiences at some point had been new but I managed to do it every single time and so why should this moment be any different. As I relaxed into my thoughts I felt my natural teaching flow return and before I knew it the first session was over.

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Following each class, I always engage in a post teaching reflection to see if anything could have been done differently or improved for the next class and after the second class I realised that yoga wasn’t a new subject to me I had been practicing yoga for 10 years and I really didn’t need to plan sessions as if I had never done yoga before, I needed to be more confident in what I knew and my ability to deliver. This realisation seemed to improve my confidence and I started to relax even more. I noticed week by week that I became more creative in my teachings despite the teaching plan. What I taught and when was very much led by where the yoga students were in their practice I knew when to speed things up, slow things down and when to challenge the students a little further. By class 8, I had the briefest of class plans and I completely improvised based on what the students wanted to do, and it felt right, I was completely in creative flow. It was such a good feeling to see how the students had grown and developed but also for myself as the teacher. I feel so grateful that I am able to teach something that I love.  With two classes per week coming up in the new year I am really looking forward to developing further as a teacher and assist the students to develop their practice too.

See you soon

Andrea

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