It’s not entirely surprising, I guess, that preparation, organisation and confidence build the foundation for a good class. It’s a bit of a tripod situation too – without the ‘legs’ of preparation and organisation, there is no stability for confidence to rest on. I learned this the hard way last week!
As my first teaching experience was so positive (read about it here), I spent the next week focusing on my own practice. Obviously I created a flow for my second class, and worked with it until I was happy with the structure of the lesson, but perhaps I didn’t practice it enough. I knew it off by heart – it was engrained in my mind – but I was nervous. More nervous than I was with my first class, and this filled my head with doubt. What if I forgot the sequence, or if it was too long, too short? It didn’t help that the number of students had doubled since the previous week, and some of them had Ashtanga experience. They had something to compare me with – a reference point against which I could be judged. These feelings were so alien to me – up until then I had been certain of my path and ability to teach. There had been no doubt that I waltz right in there and be perfect. Until now.
The actual class was ok – but I think my nerves definitely showed. I was aware of my hands shaking and my voice sounding strained. I felt rigid and stiff. I barely even got off my mat to do any adjustments. It was my safe place! Once the class went over I felt quite disheartened. I began to doubt if I would ever be any good, or whether I should reconsider everything!
Then I realised – preparation preparation preparation. Although I had practiced the flow, maybe I hadn’t done quite enough. I may have known it off by heart, but I didn’t feel comfortable or confident enough to teach it. I needed to spend more time thinking about the verbal cues into every asana, not just be able to do it myself. See, there is a world of difference between being a good practitioner and a good teacher. We all know the good practitioners – the ones who are more interested in their own progression rather than in helping others. They teach because they love their practice, but they don’t necessarily care about sharing their practice. I don’t want to be like that – I want to share my practice with the world! I want to help others fall in love with yoga the way I did, see it transform their lives the way it transformed mine. That is why I teach.
So this week, although the class size was smaller than the ‘disastrous class’, I didn’t mind. I relaxed, I felt prepared, I had a laugh with my students before class, and I even got off my mat to make adjustments. This week’s class was a tough flow – fast-paced and challenging – but I loved every second of it. I didn’t hesitate or pause and (even though I had to switch the order of a few short sequences within the flow because I missed a bit out and had to include it once I remembered!) I didn’t lose my calm. Once all my students were relaxing (and, for a few, sleeping!) in savasana, I knew I was on the right path once again and that I had re-realised my true intentions for teaching. And I feel so much better!