This week’s blog entry was written by guest author Kristen Nelson. Kristen is a graduate of Whole Life Yoga’s 200 hour yoga teacher training program. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back in grad school, I read the book The Courage To Teach, by Parker J. Palmer. To quote from his book, “Good teaching cannot be reduced to technique; good teaching comes from the identity and integrity of the teacher.” I firmly believe, that being ourselves makes us better at teaching but can also play on our insecurities. You will never be able to serve all of your students, but if you’re like me, you’ll certainly torture yourself over why you can’t, or why they chose that other yoga studio, or class, or instructor.
Let’s be honest, it’s not easy to get up in front of people, perfect strangers, find connection, while being authentic-just be yourself, right? It’s easier to be yourself though, when you’re prepared. Sure, we carve out adequate time for planning the perfect sequence, even though we know it doesn’t exist. We’ll make time to do the practice AND meditate before class begins. Yes, totally zoned out, prepared, with options for every kind of student-you know it’s a fantasy.
Another insecurity- teaching the class with low numbers. Yeah, you know that class. Ok, this is hard for me to say, I’m the teacher of that class. This can send one into a tizzy of second guessing one’s ability, choice in lineage, and just feeling like I’ve done something wrong, I know I have. Yes, I want to say, “I teach that yoga called Smart Yoga, oh you haven’t heard of it?”
The other insecurity, your students know way more than you. I had a student suggest I try more of a ‘dance style’ yoga, which is ‘so much fun’, or ‘hot yoga’ because ‘it really is a good work out.’ The whopper though, that cut to the depth of humiliation- my Yoga For Depression series. Guess what? NO ONE came. Yep. I don’t consider myself a depressed person, but after that, really?
But let’s end on a positive note. A few years ago I created a yoga event for the winter solstice. The first year I had three people. I felt a small pang of regret, mainly because I had far exceeded my candle budget. The following year I had a friend visiting me and I was psyched because she was coming to the class. I joked she might be the only one there, but that might be awkward, so we made a backup plan-dinner. As my friend helped me light the thirty-some candles, people started to walk through the door and continued to fill the studio to MAXIMUM capacity. I tried to look cool, looking as if my classes are always brimming. But honestly, I wanted to cry, and not necessarily because people were showing up, but because I felt like my hard work had finally paid off. Hard work and a ton of heart behind the intention. My intention that night-to share and give. That’s it. See, you learn from experience. Don’t give up. And don’t let those insecurities get the best of you. Even if you have one student in your life , just one, you’ve made an impact. At the end of the day, those nerves, those insecurities, serve a purpose. If we get too comfortable, god forbid, too overly confident, we are not serving our students, because it’s about them, not about us. Sometimes we’re not sure why we teach, we just feel we need to, more than a want to-and that takes courage.
Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series. A KILLER RETREAT is available for preorder now from Whole Life Yoga. The first book in the series, MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and book sellers everywhere!