Friday, March 2, 2012

i'm a yoga teacher.

You heard me. When people ask me what I do, I can now tell them, “I work for a large corporation by day as a marketing copywriter. When I’m not there, I teach yoga and work the desk at a yoga center.”

What? Is that real? No. Yes? Yes!

I went out after a class last night with one of my favorite yoga teachers and we sat and talked shop, sharing experiences while she gave me tips and suggestions. It wasn’t until she dropped me off at my house that I realized that, instead of that being an evening shared between a yoga teacher and a yoga practitioner, it was a hang between two yoga teachers. One, albeit with far more experience than the other, but still, I'm a teacher. She's a teacher. I’m going to type it one more time because it’s so fun: I’m a yoga teacher. 

On the last Friday of 2011, I taught my first class. It was a donation-based, yin-vinyasa class at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis. As a yoga study student, I may sign up for these classes to practice teaching. Clients are well-aware what they are getting into if they take this class. This removes a lot of the pressure to be the best yoga teacher evAR. Seven people came to this class: friends, peers and strangers. When class ended, I walked to my car thinking, “This is it. I found it. This is what I am meant to do. I have never felt more connected to something in my entire life.”

On the first Friday of 2012, I taught another class. This time, 18 people showed up. That’s seven away from the max capacity of the room in which I was teaching. It was the most overwhelming out pour of support and love from my students combined with my earnest desire to create a safe and loving space for each individual. 

Then, last week, on an impulse, as it were, I reached out to a handful of teachers and asked to be on the substitute teacher list at the yoga center. Later that day, I was scheduled to cover a hatha class. I did this four more times – subbing vinyasa and hatha classes populated by 2-5 students possessing a vast range of experience. 

Each 60 to 75 minutes of teaching is a time suck. When I leave the studio, I feel like only five minutes has transpired, while, at the same time, it seems like days have passed. I have two basic sequences I’ve written that I place next to my mat. As I guide my students through their practice, I check in from time to time with the sheets of paper. More often than not, however, I end up just letting things happen. (Nine months ago, if you would have told me this was something I was going to do before I turned 28 years old, I would have fallen to the floor laughing).

For those of you who know me, I’m a planner. I often wonder how I lived before I owned my iPhone. Each minute of every day is planned out. When I have an hour or two to myself, it’s rare, welcomed and also a bit jarring (I’m working on it, I promise). When I’m teaching yoga, however, I don’t plan. I might pick a quote or a focus for the class, physically or spiritually, but for the most part, it’s a unique, organic experience. It’s neither scary nor daunting. It just is. 

At the end of each class, when I say thank you and Namaste to my students, a small lump forms in my throat. I want to tell them everything about myself. I want to tell them how far I’ve come. I want to hug all of them as they leave, thanking them for being in my life for this short time. They have no idea what they’ve done for me just by moving their bodies and taking time for themselves. When I can watch someone moving and breathing just for the sake of doing it – just for themselves – it is the most beautiful form of self love I have ever seen. Witnessing this is like watching a humming bird drinking from a brightly-colored flower. Mystifying and beautiful.  

Tonight, I am teaching another donation-based class. It will be the last of its kind for me as I graduate from yoga study in 10 days. I’m sure I will teach more donation based classes, but it won’t be as a teacher in training, it will be as a certified yoga instructor. 

I love that I have no idea what any of this means, or what the future holds. For the first time in my life, I am okay with not having a plan, while being mindful in my day-to-day life, watching for opportunities and making choices with clear intentions. This is so much better than thinking I have it all figured out, only to find out I have no idea. Just having no idea and being okay with it is the bee’s knees. 

What an exhilarating life I live. I wouldn’t trade this lifetime for a thing.  

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