Sunday night I was taking a hot shower post yoga teacher training and reflecting on the weekend and collecting my thoughts. The weekend in one word, hard. It was hard mentally and physically.
Saturday morning we got to the studio and started with yoga class. David said we’d be doing a splits and backbends class. The class was slow and we worked on stretching and opening every part of our body. We started with our feet and worked up through the legs, to the quads and hamstrings, into the hips. Then we opened and stretched the shoulders and chest. EVERYTHING was tight and every pose felt like a challenge. This class was sheer torture. We did a pectoral and pectoral minor stretch on the wall….my shoulders were so tight. It was so painful. We did splits with blocks, my hamstrings were tight and I felt like I was stuck in the pose. Literally I felt stuck. It was right about then, when I’m stuck in a split with blocks supports on my front leg that I just yelled, “I hate you David Vendetti! This is so hard…and NOW I feel like I’m going to CRY! God!” To which David said, ”It’s ok. Bring it! Nobody’s cried today!” And so I did…big old crocodile tears came streaming down my face and then I started laughing and so did everyone else. It felt so good to let out my emotions and frustrations. The rest of the class was surprisingly easier, but I guess it should be when you move to restorative poses with a bolster. From start to finish we practiced for 3 hours, 3 hours that went by so quickly but were so hard.
After class a few of my fellow trainees came up to me and shared with me how grateful they were for my outburst, how they were thinking the same things and feeling the same way. They were happy to know they weren’t alone. This is one of the things I love about yoga teacher training! We all support each other and chances are you are never alone with your feelings.
We spent time going over poses and adjustments. We had Tim Kelleher co-teaching this weekend, he is amazing at adjustments so it was great to learn some new ones. After lunch we talked about happiness and our experience with satya. Satya is truthfulness which we practiced over the last 2 weeks. I think we all thought that it felt good to be honest and learned how to be honest without being hurtful. We also worked through the sutras. For our afternoon teaching session, we taught a flow that David created. It was more challenging than other flows with lots of breath work, twists, and more. I felt awful teaching. Honestly. My sequence had lots of twists and complicated arm movements and was so hard to cue. Worse than that I could not tell my lefts from my rights and mirroring was near impossible! Thankfully I was hardest on myself and the feedback I received was pretty good. Everyone struggled to teach the flows so I was not alone.
Sunday morning started with David’s public class. It was a splits and backbends class. I felt more prepared for the class thanks to Saturday’s struggle and I noticed I was getting deeper into poses than I was the day before. After class was more adjustments and poses. When we work through adjustments we often partner up and do the poses and let each other adjust. It can be really challenging to get through this when you are sore and tired.
After lunch, we spent quite a bit of time talking about yoga as a business. As much as I’m doing all of this because I love yoga I’d like to one day be successful as an instructor. We talked about the costs of classes and the costs of running a yoga studio, how teachers are paid, insurance, taxes and more. Yoga teachers live a challenging life financially but have a job they love. The more I learn about the business the more respect I have for those who make a successful living doing and sharing what they love!
For our afternoon teaching session we taught a different part of the class we taught on Saturday. We had less time to prep, which in my opinion was good. I had less time to get up in my head. I felt like my voice was louder and more commanding but I still was mixing up my lefts and rights. The time felt like it flew by but I couldn’t tell if I was talking too much or too little or if they were holding poses for long enough or moving to quickly. After the class Tim provided us with a lot of feedback, general tips to help us with our teaching. He gave me some great suggestions for teaching challenging flows when I mix up my lefts and rights, like going to the back of the class and facing the same direction as the students or using the walls and up and down as cues rather than left and right. He suggested we all teach on the exhale. This way we are breathing and we know our students are holding poses long enough. One thing as new teachers we all forget is that people are coming to our class to be told what to do. They want flows, directions and instructions so leave out phrases like “we are going to do ____” and just tell them what to do. Most of all we just need to trust ourselves and trust that we know what to do.
The personal feedback Tim gave me was good…I have a strong voice and presence but to work on my mirroring and right and lefts. I shared with them how I felt, what was going on my head. I started to well up because part of me felt like I wasn’t good enough to be a yoga instructor. I shared that I felt like I had so far to go before I felt like I was a strong and confident teacher. Everyone assured me it was just my inner feelings and that had I not told them that they would have never known I felt that way. After class, a few of the women in my group shared with me that they felt the same way. It was comforting to relate to each other and share our frustrations and feelings. I love that there are 14 people going through this with me!
I knew this experience would have its challenges, that I’d feel vulnerable and open. It is definitely hard. But there is a lot of support, love and gratefulness. Even in the hardest moments of teacher training I’m still happy to be there and to be on this journey and that alone makes it a little bit easier. This weekend I’ve realized that there is so much more to learn, so much work to do. The challenges of this weekend have really motivated me to learn as much as possible before our session in 2 weeks.