I have to say it can be tough teaching everyday but in many ways it's a blessing in disguise. You know those days you kind of want to curl up in a ball and be seen by no one and forget the world exists? Yoga teachers are not given a ticket to bypass this obstacle in life. Yes, we have tools to assist us when these days happen but so does any student of yoga. Because really, that's what we are, a student. A fellow Yogi recently said, "You know, when you walked into your first day of Yoga Teacher Training, they forgot to tell you that it was actually just the first day of a life time of training". It really never ends. It's so exciting to know that there is a limitless amount of knowledge and experience left to be had but at the same time it isn't always the most comforting feeling. That same notion that the more you know the more certain you are you know nothing at all. Try walking into a classroom of 30 people feeling like maybe, just maybe, you know nothing at all. "Woah, woah, woah", you say to quickly halt the thought, because that is not going to serve anyone any good. You quickly remind yourself that you have so much to share. You enter your yoga teacher tunnel vision mode where nothing exists except your students, their practice and what you have to offer them as they practice. This is definitely a meditative experience and something many teachers, including myself, have struggled with. You literally cannot think for a moment about anything else or you will definitely forget what on earth needs to be done on the left side that we had done on the right or that extra variation you had given all because you were trying to remember the recipe for that Chicken Stew you think you're going to make later but most likely won't. Returning to a classroom of students who were just abandoned in Side Angle Pose is just NOT an option. Therefore, leave your thoughts at the door. That doesn't sound too bad, right? Well just when you think you've got it down you have your first serious emotional disruption before class which can include a break up, an argument, bad news or various disappointments and maybe even some crying but you head to your class and for the moment you have no choice but to step away. To detach from your emotions and your thoughts and submerge yourself in teaching. At first this seems impossible, but when surrounded by your students this void is suddenly filled with something unique. A connection and togetherness that is warm, comforting and supportive. And whether they know it or not, they are really helping you to be a stronger person, not just in this moment but in every moment you spend with them. Sometimes it's just a lot more uncomfortable and more difficult than we would like it to be. But so is everything that helps us to grow and evolve.
So students if your teacher is having an off day in class be kind and compassionate. Perhaps you can recall a time they supported you while you were having a bad day. Teachers, it's always great to share tips and advice with each other. Here are a few that I have come to learn from both experience and some REALLY remarkable people.
1. Have a back up sequence for each of the classes you teach. A sequence that is simple, covers all of your bases, allows room for the students to expand or modify and doesn't cause you to stray too far from you comfort zone. Keep this in your back pocket and you will always be prepared.
2. If you use playlists for your classes. Have a playlist stored for each style that you teach. The students may have heard it before but much of the time they are not listening but more importantly a good playlist heard twice is better than a bad one heard once or lack there of when one is required.
3. Recently shared with me by an inspiring woman in my life, create a folder in your e-mail, on your phone or something of the like whereby you collect positive feedback in whatever form. This could be from students, other teachers, events, friends or family. It's hard to recognize our strengths and our accomplishments, particularly on our difficult days so this will be a sure pick me up.
4. Don't use your phone half an hour before your class or immediately after. Simply opening your phone within 30 minutes before class puts you in a position whereby you are making yourself available to receive unexpected bad news, stressful e-mails, misinterpreted text messages and the like. Why do this to yourself and to your students? Shut it off and put it away. Instead, listen to your playlist to absorb your vibe for class, talk to your students and staff at the studio, and prepare the atmosphere for your class.
These are just a few strategies for making the best of a situation that is not ideal. If you have more please share them here and with fellow teachers so that we can all try to be our best both on and off the mat.