The Giving and Taking of Orders

Yesterday was a long day. I'm still trying to settle into my new school/work/teaching schedule a month after the shift. It's been difficult. Last night I taught my Night Cap Yoga class at Black Swan after an excruciatingly long day at school following a very stinted night of sleep. The class went well. When I got home, I ate a big dinner as I ran the class over and over in my head, trying to learn something from my experience, thinking I needed to come away with something significant for the evening. Then I did some writing to dump it all out before hitting the sack and slept for ten hard hours. I don't crash like that very often. The difficulty of balancing my multifaceted life is becoming more apparent. I am currently a part time student, part time yoga teacher, and part time waitress -- I don't do part time very well. I'm more of an all or nothing kind of girl.

The class last night was small. Seven students came, but I recognized at least a couple of faces from previous weeks, which made my heart swell with joy. Right now, I'm in an emotional place where I want to smother these people with my love and appreciation simply for showing up. It is challenging to carry on with this attitude while maintaining the presence and authority of a teacher. I suspect that I need to get more comfortable with telling people what to do (though I'm guessing the boyfriend may disagree). I often feel as though I'm repeating myself a lot. I try to phrase things differently, but still I feel like a nag sometimes. Square your hips. Tuck your tailbone. Spread your fingers. Activate your feet. Then I tell myself, this is a yoga class. These are yoga students. They came here for you to tell them what to do.

I just now realized my aversion to giving orders may have something to do with the contrasting roles of my two jobs: I wait tables. I've done it for years, and it's all about taking orders. I don't give very many orders in my professional life. I'll have to think about this a bit more, but I may be onto something here. In any case, I've already noted that my classes go much better when I loosen up and go with the flow. Duh, right? But it's not that easy. This teaching yoga stuff is hard. You have to keep going, keep holding the space no matter what happens, no matter what kind of reactions you're getting. There is no time to think about yourself, to retire for a moment and consider. "Stay there in your half-moon, everyone. I just need a few minutes to compose myself." Not happening.

So that's what I'll be meditating on this week: getting in touch with my inner teacher. I know she's in there somewhere. I need to find a way to get comfortable in the role of instructor and be confident in my ability to lead.


  1. As a student, when teachers repeat directions, I always double check my alignment. This is what is supposed to happen and why you have to constantly be on us.

    As a fellow newbie teacher, you are too hard on yourself. I know you and you are a good teacher. You know what you are doing. Some times, teaching will be a profound experience for student and teacher but most of the time, it won't. Just concentrate on being comfortable in your new skin. There is nothing but success in front of you.

  2. You'll be surprised at how quickly you find your own voice as a yoga teacher. It is hard right after TT because you want to fit into that mold or think you should be doing it a certain way. It's a journey!

  3. Thanks Babs and La Garza for the encouraging words. I do tend to be a little rough on myself. I am really enjoying my teaching experiences and growing fast as a teacher. I need to accept that every class is going to be a little different, better in some ways, perhaps not in others.

  4. As a student, I can never hear certain things enough. Each pose has so many things to pay attention to that I often only hear one piece of instruction. The repetition helps me find something new each time.

  5. I never get enough of the instruction either. It helps me immensely to focus on the sensations in the pose one piece at a time and keep myself centred and grounded. Don't ever worry about that!

  6. I agree with babs
    And teaching... anything is exhausting... you have to be "on" 100%, and that's not easy. Now you are adding the component of physical activity.... and probably some stress if it is a new thing for you... of course you're exhausted!

    So, cut yourself some slack, be easy on YOU, and enjoy. You sound like a very dedicated teacher and if I wasn't on the opposite side of the country, I would love to take classes with you! I've always wanted to visit Austin, so if I ever get there, maybe I'll "drop in" on one..

    The beauty of teaching is that no matter how long you have been doing it, each class you learn something new.

    ps I love the idea of a "nightcap class".
    I know its very un-yogic, but I'm not a morning person, and it takes pretty much all I have to roll out of bed and do a few asanas, yet so many classes are held in the am, it is harder to find night classes.

  7. oh... just an idea... perhaps think about it as sharing all your knowledge and experience with them, so they too can get the benefits you get from your practice, rather than "telling them what to do".
    That slight shift in thinking might help you feel less like you are "giving orders". Maybe that won't help you, just an idea to try.

    And I also agree with the above post, that students, especially if they are new to yoga, need and appreciate a lot of repitition. Sometimes, when you have been doing something for a long time, you do so much "automatically" so it feels silly to you to keep bringing them up. But to students, especially if the are new, these are completely new concepts. I have been doing yoga for some time, but every time I take a class, I learn something new!
    I don't know if you do this, but as a student I find "manual correction" to be very helpful, i.e. a hand on my back in downward dog to remind me to "flatten" my back. It helps me a lot to be able to get the feeling of doing a post correctly, and sometimes I'm doing or not doing something, that I'm unaware of - I may think my back was flat, but until I felt what is should feel like, I wasn't able to correct it, or work toward better alignment.