I never planned on this happening but, in the immortal lyrics of John Lennon: Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.
Now I find myself standing in front of a class full of eager yogis and yoginis, all eying me in expectation.
Though I’ve memorised my teaching sequence, filled my water bottle and set my (meticulously planned) iPod soundtrack, I feel under-prepared and, well, kind of terrified.
No where in my brain does it register that most people come to yoga to find tranquility and inner peace. As far as I’m concerned, they’re all there to silently judge me as I stumble my way through the next 75 minutes.
Ladies and gentleman – rationality has left the building.
Enduring ‘that’ first yoga class
I comfort myself with the knowledge that all yoga teachers have endured ‘that’ first class. From Prana Flow superstar Shiva Rea to a yoga teacher volunteering at a community hall, they’ve all had to battle nerves and self-doubt in order to reveal their students to themselves.
So I take a deep breath – a wise thing to do while practicing yoga – and begin.
I try to shed my self-consciousness; I kindly give myself permission to make mistakes; I endeavour not to wallow if students gave me blank looks because of my unclear instructions. And I resolve to learn from today.
Coming to terms with my most vocal critic – me
I made it!
Despite the sometimes unkind words of my inner critic, I taught with everything I had at the time. My inner perfectionist is noisiest when I’m at my most vulnerable, so I try to coax the inner teacher to get a bit louder, as well.
I continue to learn how to teach, just as I learned how to move into Warrior I for the first time. I learn how to communicate more clearly, plan for sequences that help my students feel their way into each pose a bit more deeply, and open myself up to the possibility of occasionally stuffing things up.
Months after my first class, I find my own practice expanding in profound ways. In each pose, and in my life as a whole, I’ve found more space to allow myself to be human, to be flawed. Whereas before I may have obsessed about a conversation gone awry, now I can take a deep breath and find opportunity for growth.
By teaching yoga to others, I’m following the direction of my own yogic path.
And by sharing my story, I hope to help another new teacher along theirs.