Taking yoga and teaching yoga are very different activities. While you are teaching, you are not actually doing yoga.
2 weekends done, 9 to go…
Sequencing = This past weekend we studied another set of postures in detail and we also started to link the poses together in a sequence. There was an entire section on how to sequence the poses together. Basically a formula to follow to make a smooth transition or flow in class. Also details about certain poses like big backbends (camel pose) which require the body to be warmed up first so you would keep them to the end of class after you are done with standing postures. It makes sense but when you are in class you do not really realize which section you are in besides the beginning of centering and the final laying down to relax (savasana). So learning about all of the sections and how much time in a 60 minute class to spend on them really was a ton of new info to me. We learned about how we should not go from a hip open pose immediately to a hip closed pose without first planting our students’ hands to the ground first for safety reasons. It was pretty overwhelming to start to sequence movements because there was now a set of rules to follow on how to piece them together. Also do not forget to add in a breathe cue per movement and also some poses need prep or set up cues before you even tell students to get into a certain posture. Oh man! This was Saturday and by the time I reached home for the evening, my head was spinning.
Mirroring / Demoing = Your left, my right and vice versa. We set up our mats in one of the empty yoga studios late on Sunday and we started practicing being a mirror for the rest of the class (aka our students). So your cue verbally would be to raise your right hand but you have to physically raise your left hand so that the students are mirroring your body. My pose to demo was a twist and that really through me off. I thought I cued it correct and when I looked up, everyone was facing the opposite direction that I thought they would be in. My exact words were “Oh sh*t, how did that happen?!”
One of our assignments now is to put together a 15 minute sequence complete with theme and music selection. The music is the easy part for me. I have a huge range already in my library. Just need to skip past the heavy metal and rap and get some smooth flowing songs. I am going to start timing myself since I am not sure how many poses I could actually have in a 15 min window.
Differences so far I am tracking for how taking a class and teaching a class is different. Some were obvious before I started training but there are some that were eye openers. All of them are things that I need to practice as much as possible since they do not come naturally.
- Actually speaking during class = During yoga you are completely silent except for your deep breathing (ujjayi) so just getting used to speaking during class is a challenge. On top of that knowing exactly what cues to give in a certain order too. During my day I normally do not say align your knee with your ankle. So it feels like learning another language. One soft skill that has not been mentioned during training is public speaking. Many people have a natural fear of it. I have a ton of years of experience (around 10) with leading presentations on a large scale and small meetings that I do not get nervous at all in front of people. I would say that I actually like the attention. But I could tell that just getting up in front of the class and speaking for some students was a terrible fear. Part of the training does not include tips on getting over this fear so I am wondering if this will be a major roadblock for some students.
- Need to focus on other people in the room = When I was practicing mirroring the students, I automatically looked down at my hands to know the next cue. That is where I made the mistake. If I just looked to any of the students, I would have called out the correct cue of left hand grounded, twist and open to your right side. In yoga we are taught to focus only on ourselves during class. Not to look around and be distracted by everyone else. Especially if someone is bending further or getting into a more difficult variation of the pose. Since then we have thoughts of “Hey why can’t I do that yet?!” Our egos get in the way and we lose our focus. So just the act of now noticing other people and what they are doing is something to practice.
- Not glued to your own mat = In some studios this might be different. But for the one we are getting trained, you are not staying in the front of the room at your mat when teaching. You demo at the sides of the room, sometimes the back and even right in the middle of the action. So just walking around and leaving your “safe space” of your mat can be a challenge. But you also want to find a balance so you are not jogging around the room and get out of breath. You need to be in the students’ line of sight so they can see you. Especially for teaching newer students who basically just copy what you are doing. Also if you are at the front and then start walking to the side of the room, you have to remember to say words like “continue to breathe, stay sinking into your pose” so your students do not pop up since you moved.
- Mirroring = Your body doing the opposite side (left/right) than what your words are describing. It is like practicing yoga in “backwards land”! I think this is going to mess us up the most as students. Also you have to immediately get into the pose and not fidget around. Which means you need to have major body awareness and be very comfortable with the pose. Our teacher said to do each pose we learned so far around 20 times. Getting into the posture quickly and cue it.
Needless to say, I am in major need of practicing. I seem to like a couple days (Monday and Tuesday) off after my intense weekend training (around 18 hours Fri, Sat, Sun). So I took care of normal household items, grocery shopping, etc. I plan on reviewing my notes today and start to practice on my own. Speak out loud the cues as I do my practice and imagine a class in front of me that I have to mirror. I also have a couple homework assignments and reading to do. I again give MAJOR credit to my yoga teachers who are so skilled that they make it look easy. I am enjoying the process of learning and still keeping my options open if I would work at a studio or maybe even just teach one-on-one. I will see how it goes. Till then I need to practice!
Next month our focus is on anatomy.
Till next time, Namaste!