Experience is the best teacher

My teacher Melissa Scott and I in crow. (Yes, I'm wearing a pencil skirt.)

My teacher Melissa Scott and I in crow. (Yes, I’m wearing a pencil skirt.) (Photo credit: Lynn Whitley)

Experience may be the best teacher, but it’s also helpful to have constructive feedback from people around you. That’s what I found after teaching my first yoga class last week, and I aimed to implement that insight when I taught my second class earlier today.

Both classes were 60 minutes long, and I designed both to peak in a challenging pose. Last week, I spent four hours driving alone the day before I taught. I used most of that time to talk through the next day’s class, and I found it prepared me for teaching both because I knew the sequence and I had a sense of time tied to the music.

This weekend was busier, though, and I didn’t have quite as much time to do that. I was concerned that I’d have to refer to my notes mid-class, or that I’d otherwise lead my trusting students through an awkward, disjointed series of poses.

That didn’t happen. Perhaps it was because I reviewed the class in my mind as I went to sleep last night, or maybe it was because I slowed down and didn’t try to fit as many poses into a one-hour class. But I think the biggest factor was that I had taught once before, and so I was at least slightly more comfortable going into the afternoon.

As was the case with my first class, today’s students included beginners, a first-timer and a couple of people who are pretty familiar with yoga. On the advice of one of last week’s beginners, I spent more time breaking down poses, particularly those that we returned to often. After talking with him last week, I noticed that the classes I attend regularly also do this. Even though I’ve practiced yoga regularly for three years and have dived in more deeply in 2014, I welcome these moments of instruction. Sometimes a verbal cue will make something click with me, but regardless it’s a chance for me to settle into the pose and explore. I didn’t pressure myself to say everything quickly or smoothly, but instead tried to give those gathered an understanding of what we were doing and why.

Today’s sequence was still challenging, and it peaked in crow (during Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird”–yes, that was intentional). It was rewarding to see students trying something a bit risky, and it was just as satisfying to see others take ownership of the class and recognize when a particular moment would have involved pushing themselves too far.

Yoga helps calm me down, pulling me out of the rat race of my mind. I don’t want to teach a class that’s going to push a student back into that litany of to dos and concerns about how they can be better. Yes, the poses have ideal shapes. But we are also individuals on unique paths. Your triangle may not look like my triangle. I may never again reach a full split. But the baby steps along the way challenge and stretch us, and that’s enough.

Here’s this week’s playlist (with covers substituted when the version I played isn’t available on Spotify). If you’d like to sign up for my email list to be kept informed of future classes, you’ll find that form here.

3 Comments

Filed under Yoga

3 Responses to Experience is the best teacher

  1. Susan Swagler

    Great class! Elle and I can’t wait until you are teaching regularly.
    Thanks so much for a relaxing (and challenging) afternoon and for this fab play list.

  2. Lynn Whitley

    What? No photo credits?

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