Thursday, January 09, 2014

First Session Teaching Yoga at New Gig

I prepped for my restorative class.  I asked my roommate to bless me, so I could be grounded in the confidence that who I am in the most important thing I offer.  I had a pretty gentle attitude with myself and with the teaching.  I basically used the Iyengar restorative sequence straight out of my teacher training manual.  I kept people in poses for 3-5 minutes.  

Base Sequence (included a few more poses

Baddha Konasana3
Adhoa Mukha SvanaHands wall; head block & blanket3
Setu BandhaBlock5
Viparita KaraniBlanket5
Twist right and left3
Supta Baddha KonaStrap, blankets5

I gave some instructions to follow the breath, drop into the body, let go of thoughts.  There was still some restlessness.  I tried to listen and adjust.  My stuff was definitely too much for one woman.  I later noticed the description promised "very gentle".  I asked for feedback.  There were 5 students.  Most said they liked the challenge level and they liked a few poses in particular: supported setu bandha, supta baddha konasana and viparita karani all received accolades.  One recommended I start off with asking people their names and trying to get some info on what is sore on them or what brings them to class.  I like that.  They said the previous teacher did "cat and cow" and also "thread the needle."    

In my training, restorative is very inward, meditative practice capable of invoking deep states of relaxation.  Poses are held for prolonged periods of time, like standard Iyengar style, but more so.  Props are used to find the perfect level of repose/stretch. Next time, I might explain this "perfect level" more.  It can't be too intense nor too easy.  I might also give a better overview of my sense of restorative, instead of just diving in.    

One thing I wasn’t prepared for was having less rigorous options in case someone couldn’t do what I asked.  A good teacher should be able to cater to various ability levels.  In a way, the first class served as something of an assessment.  Of the five students, two seemed to be around my age and three were probably middle aged.  The younger folks were probably just fine with the rigor and could have used more.  As it was, I considered the class to be of low to moderate rigor. 

This raises an important question: do I cater to the students who have a certain expectation based on what the prior teacher did or do what I think works best and allow students who are the wrong fit to filter out while perhaps new ones would come in for whom the previous classes were not rigorous enough?  There is also reality that “yoga” and “restorative yoga” mean different things in different contexts, namely at a gym vs. a yoga studio. 

At one moment, I looked in the mirror and saw myself teaching.  While I taught history and took yoga classes, I fantasized about teaching yoga.  It took me a couple years after getting certified, but I’m finally doing it!  And that makes me happy.  I like giving instruction.  I like getting feedback from students.  I like hearing about their challenges and problems and just listening to them.  I like seeing what works and what doesn’t.  I like bringing them fitness and peace.  I like sharing what I have experienced.  I’m really glad to be doing this and to teach the Dharma in Action workshop in the Spring.