A few days ago, I taught a section of a 60-minute class and also provided hands on adjustments (before and during my teaching) to 30 of my fellow trainees in the hot room.
The pressure was on (a pressure I placed on myself)…I wanted to project my voice and remember all of the details discussed in class. My evaluator was also someone I knew and someone I highly respect from back home, so initially, I was pretty anxious. What was she going to think of my teaching style? I paid attention to my breath, observed my thoughts, and felt my stomach churning. I knew I had 2 options: 1) I could channel my anxiety (while it was low enough) into my teaching and conquer my fear; or 2) let the fear take complete control of me. I really only had one option. I took deep breaths as I laid down in the first savasana of class, my attempt to trigger a parasympathetic response in my body.
I was trembling when I got up to do hands on adjustments. Walking around these actively engaged, yet fatigued, bodies reminded me that in another 12 minutes it would be my turn to teach. I could feel and see my peers responding to my anxiety as I circulated in the room. I didn’t want to transfer this uneasiness and lack of confidence into their practice. I closed my eyes, grounded my feet and focused my mind on the breath, my peer’s instruction, and the postures around me.
A few moments later, I unclasped my sweaty hands, brought my arms along side my body and with a proud chest began to teach.
I taught from a place of love – the love for a practice that has brought a sense of peace, self-acceptance, and joy into my life. It was exciting! I wanted to share my own experience of each posture, what it could be! My teacher was right, the knowledge was in the bodies I was watching and within every cell of my body. I wanted my peers to find ease in these asanas. I was amazed at how the words just flowed from my lips.
I love teaching yoga. It’s different from lecturing 300 students or facilitating small group learning about nursing theory. The teaching for me meant being authentic (my true self); something I hope to carry forward into other teaching/learning environments.
Walking around, observing focused breath with movement, and being a guide to others is an incredible privilege!
It’s 5:40am…we’re walking into darkness listening intently for the sound of crashing waves. My roommate and I arrive to the coast. She suggests taking off my shoes and socks to get really into it. I do it, even though I think its a terrible idea. I’m already here so I might as well. It’s freezing, but she’s right I’m feeling it. We step a few metres away from each other and let go. I repeatedly scream hard, long and loud. I start thinking of the load I’ve been carrying in my body/mind and the internal dialogue that’s been holding me back from being my true self. Damn, does it feel great to finally let it go. The best releases come from standing up proud and sticking my chest out (in tadasana) I’m not afraid. I am good enough.
As we sit back on the beach trying to regain the sensations in our frozen little feet we look out…inhaling new possibilities, exhaling the past. We catch glimpse of a dolphin and laugh hysterically at one another as the sun slowly creeps in and brings a gentle glow to the beach.
Thanks SB for being with me today. Xo
Tips for those adventurous types who wish to relieve stressors/emotional baggage at the beach:
– arrive early (at least 1 hour before sunrise)
– wear warm clothes (layer it up!)
– if you plan on taking off your shoes/socks bring extra socks or warm boots
– write down or reflect on a challenge you’re trying to overcome
– scream like you’ve never screamed before
– give it 110%
We’ve been practicing silence every morning from the moment we wake until the end of our first asana practice. I’ve already noticed a shift in my yoga practice in that I’m observing my thoughts much more than before. The hard part is not letting them guide me but staying neutral (nonjudgmental) and letting them just pass by like clouds in the sky. I’m sticking to breath. I love the practice of silence because it enables me to take my practice of concentration and breathing off of the mat.
We’ve had a few classes that have helped us to identify and begin to face personal challenges. Personal challenges being things that have stopped me from pushing forward or have held me back from being myself. Things, people or situations that I fear. Through this process I discovered my negative self-talk.
I was startled by these thoughts in my first attempt at practice teaching to a group. My thoughts were loud and repetitive to the point that my posture was caving in and my speech was paralyzed when it was time to teach. I thought to myself – I’ve lectured to large groups in the past, what’s going on here? In discussions with my teachers post class, I have learned that it’s more than just being a content expert. Its the ability to connect with the individuals in the room. This type of teaching is not something you can just make up or fake your way through. Teaching must be authentic for growth of the student and teacher. My negative thinking in this context also helped me to reflect on my actions and on my relationships in various settings. What am I afraid of? What purpose do these thoughts have? They’re damaging me, not motivating me.
It bothers me to think that most other people are held back because of such negative thoughts driven by fears or thoughts about the future or past. It also makes me sad that we as a society are so out of touch with the present (here and now)…what’s actually real.
My emotions continue to be all over the place, but I won’t cling on to these sensations for long. Just experience them and then let go.
I’m left wondering: how do I want to be?
About 6 years ago a friend of mine suggested that I check out a “hot” yoga class in downtown London, ON. I remember feeling intimidated walking into the Moksha Yoga London studio and hot room, unaware of what I was getting myself into. I had never done yoga, let alone exercise in temperatures ranging between 36-38°C. My friend and I set up near the mirror in the centre of the room and laid down on our yoga mats acclimatizing to the heat until class began.
During the class, I had intense feelings and thoughts related to how challenging the postures were and how inflexible I was at the time. I wanted the 60-minute session to be finished within the first fifteen; thankfully, I was reminded to breathe. My inhales and exhales helped me get through the class and before I knew it, we were finished with the floor series. As I came out of my final Savansana, I noticed that I had released a lot of tension from my body and mind. Leaving the studio, I remember thinking that I absolutely loved the practice and that I wanted to do it again. While completing my graduate studies, working, and dealing with some personal difficulties, I attended classes to relieve built up stress and to stay fit. Unfortunately, however, as my professional and personal commitments grew over the years my ability to get to the studio to practice became infrequent.
A few months after moving and starting my new job in 2011, I was excited to see that a new Moksha Yoga studio would be opening near my home. When the studio opened in January 2012, I brought members of my family to join me for the opening week. Once again, I was hooked and made an effort to go a minimum of 3-4 times a week. With some encouragement I signed up for my first 30-Day challenge in October 2012. I completed the Challenge with great determination. It was a rewarding and an emotional journey for me as I had mood fluctuations after and during classes. My instructors were incredibly supportive. A number of them guided me to reflect on my experiences by writing in a journal.
It was during this reflective time that I realized how grateful I was to have a sacred space to practice, access to amazing teachers, and a connection with the Moksha community. I also recognized that I wanted to teach to learn more about myself (through continued self-reflection) and to help others. More specifically, I wanted to add this to my nursing practice in an attempt to promote self-care and wellness with clients (with mental health and addiction concerns) and with my colleagues.
I am thrilled to share with you that I was accepted into the Moksha Yoga Teacher Training in December and will be going to Los Angeles, California between February and March 2013 to complete my training. My excitement for what’s to come is palpable! Thank you to all who have supported me to date, you know who you are.
Stay tuned for my next post focused on the 30-Day Challenge I most recently completed in preparation for my upcoming training.