It's a rainy fall sunday, not too cold but chilly enough for boots and leggings. Leaves finally changing, vibrant red, orange, and yellow colors lining the streets as I drive toward the studio. I unlock the studio door it's cold, quiet and still, but not for long. Taking a full deep breath through my nose sucking in the air, letting it back out through my nose, I'm aware it's my job to make the magic. With intention I set about making sure the incense is lit before class so the smell will greet my student's nose as soon as they step from the outside in. Standing at the iPod I start searching to find music that is soft, not overly loud, inappropriately happy or sad, not poppy or new-agey, just right. I've become overly aware of how the little things set the mood. Sometimes I chuck the music all together preferring the silence of breathing to the distraction of music, but not today. Today I find the right playlist. The lights are another task. I fiddle with them endlessly trying to find the place that is perfect. Bright light is jolting, dim will make you sleepy, and it changes everyday, with the time of class and the season.
I go about my tasks, tiny rituals of lighting candles, incense, and adjusting music. These tasks have made up my days in some form for almost the last two years. Silently I pray to myself hoping that I'll get it right for my students. Whispering "let me find the right words today. Let me feel the energy of the collective body of students, let me mold it into what they need. Let me find the right message, please let me give them what they need." I pray that the right sequencing will move through me to my students, hoping that it will translate from the way I see it in my head to the way they feel it and experience it in their bodies. Praying and lighting candles I wonder who will walk through my door for class. Not long after I've settled the studio I smile as I see familiar students start streaming in.
There are very few things that I could think of that would be more satisfying than teaching yoga. As a matter of fact the only other thing I'd like to be doing myself right now would be taking a yoga class - a treat I'm rarely afforded. Sunday's are "Power Flow". I try to find the right balance of inward seeking and outward physical challenge. I try to hit the right tempo, lulling students in softly, finding center, working up to crescendo, then slowly pulling back toward savasana until we're there. Using the breath to keep tempo, molding the energy that was brought to class into a powerful personal experience, at least that's one of my hopes for them. Most of all I hope that the experience I give them in the studio will leave them feeling better on the way out than they did on the way in.
While I teach today I remind myself that teaching yoga just like learning yoga, it takes practice. Teaching is a practice. As a teacher I'm evolving and hopefully becoming more of the teacher that my students need every day. If you've taken a few yoga classes, you've bound to have heard the saying "We are all beginners". For me it's certainly that way in teaching yoga too. I want to be like the great teachers I've had. The ones who demonstrate that teaching is a yoga practice in itself. They taught me that it's a practice of being fully present with your students. Watching what is happening in the students body, on their faces and learning how to read the students and the energy in the room. The good teacher is the one learning how to say the right combination of words that helps the student go deeper or notice when their body is telling them to take a break and back off. Becoming an advanced teacher is knowing when to offer the playful "harder" postures and knowing when to slow it down for everyone. As a teacher I try to always teach with the mind of a beginner teacher because student or teacher I know we are all beginners.
Today after the last student left and I tidy the props, swept the floor and finally locked up I remind myself it's just practice and there's always room for more practice.