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

The Journey so Far

For those that know me well, I have a love of writing.  About 7 years ago I started to write a book, I have a completed manuscript but so far I have not done anything with it.  I still view it has a work in progress and from time to time I pick it up and re-write sections of it, I love doing it and I have always said it will have its place in time.   As well as the book I am an avid journal writer, I write in my journal every night most of the time before bed but sometimes I write in my journal after yoga practice or as part of a meditation exercise.  I am almost through my 4th journal this year.  A few years ago I started to write a blog called Love Yourself Better. I wrote it because I found myself having these constant negative thoughts that needed to be challenged and it was a great way to get everything out of my system and challenge things.  Writing things down provides a release to all the things you are holding onto but maybe not able to vocalise. It is a great way of facing your feelings and fears in a non threatening way.  Writing helps to put things into perspective, it helps you to untangle your thoughts and feelings,  you can then analyse it, make sense of it, identify patterns and you can challenge your thinking behind what you have written.  So when I qualified as a yoga teacher and set up classes it was only natural that I wanted to blog at the same time too.  Unfortunately I haven’t had much spare time to write anything as I have been working my way through 12 very long leadership modules and they have had to come first, I still have a 2000 word assignment to write but I am almost there.  Today is the first time that I have had some space to write and I have so wanted to.  Writing is an intuitive process and I know when it is time to write, I know when the words I have to say are ready to come out on paper or on screen.  I usually have an idea what to write but then I start writing or typing and something else miraculously appears.

It seems such a long time since I qualified as a yoga teacher along with Gemma, Jo, Tatjana and Lauren.  Yet it is only four months ago.

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Teaching Yoga was a journey I never expected to undertake, it was never in the plan.  I had been considering applying for a Lecturers post at the University and I was part way through an application but something didn’t feel quite right and I decided to sleep on it.  The following day I saw an email from Mick at the YogaLife Project  in Manchester advertising their Yoga Teacher Training Course and I knew that that was something I would like to do and after a little more consideration I decided to sign up.

Two years later I am teaching my own beginners class, again something I never expected to do.  On the day I received my certificate I remember feeling a little lost and thinking where do I go from here.  I hadn’t planned to teach this side of Christmas due to the leadership course but with 12 months insurance paid for it seemed such a shame to waste it.  I had many sleepless nights wondering/debating if I should start teaching or not.  My main concern was that I was studying at the same time and I was worried it would all be a bit too much to do.  I noticed a local school was advertising a gym space for hire and I decided to contact them and ask if they had space and they did.  From then on everything fell into place.

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The very first beginners course started on the 30th October and it is running for 8 weeks, the Monday coming up will be class 6, I cannot believe we are heading towards the end already.  I am very passionate about teaching and I regularly run workshops and educational sessions through my job anyway so it is great that I can teach something else that I love too. I cannot tell you it has all been easy and there have been a couple of times when everything has bottlenecked and I have felt the pressure of working full time, facilitating and preparing workshops, studying for my course, teaching yoga, running a home and just generally keeping up with life.  At those times of pressure it has been really important to take time out, make sure I get some fresh air or bring myself to the soothing kindness of my yoga mat but it has all been worth it and I am proud of what has been achieved these past few months.

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From January 2018 there will be two classes, another leap of faith,  but I wanted to be able to accommodate those students that had really developed their yoga practice and wanted to explore yoga a little more and have the opportunity to deepen their practice but also maintain the more gentle level of beginners for those who preferred that style or are new to yoga.  I am really looking forward to 2018 and developing the yoga classes further, it really is quite an exciting time.  To see classes available, dates and prices please visit here

Om Nema Sivaya

Andrea