Today I taught my first yoga class. Okay, that’s not entirely true; a couple of weeks back I taught a class to some fellow backpackers during sunset in Raglan, New Zealand. The exact location was called Inspiration Point, and frankly, the view from there, overlooking the Tasman Sea, was so gorgeous that I could have instructed them to stick their finger in their ear for half an hour or some absurdity like that and it would have seemed brilliant.
Today was for real: the first of a 10-week basics course, in a studio, where people paid money to attend. I’m collaborating with an amazing mentor, but I was still terrified in the last few weeks leading up to this day. Terrified of their judgments. Terrified of letting them down. Terrified of pushing too hard where people have injuries or chronic physical issues that limit the external appearance of their practice. Terrified of losing students who were bored with the slow pace, and anxious to get to that pretzel-like contortion stage.
I’m freshly home from the class, and want to share my thoughts with my students, even if they never actually see this letter.
Thank you for welcoming me into your lives for the next 10 weeks. The yoga practice is a pretty personal thing, and I’m honoured that you’re allowing me to lead you. Most of you don’t know that this was my first-ever studio class, excepting the one of you who’s my personal friend and has witnessed this process since before I left for teacher training two months ago. I’m grateful for your trust in me, and your patience with me as I find my feet, whether or not you can tell.
The transition from practitioner to teacher is surprisingly challenging. I know what a great yoga class can feel like, and what I appreciate about the great teachers in my life. I can only hope that my teaching is good for you (and hopefully on its way to great) although I can’t feel that as the teacher. It would be presumptuous to say I could; only you know what’s in your heart and in your mind, and what it feels like to be in your body.
While it’s my job to hold the space for your practice, I’m grateful that you allow me the space to feel awkward, to fumble my words sometimes, to forget to tell you that you can use that blanket beside your mat for Savasana. Thank you for understanding that my heart is in the right place, and that it will get better as we journey together.
In yoga there is such depth and breadth of knowledge and feeling and wisdom, and although I can lead you safely through a practice, I’m abundantly aware of how much I don’t know.
I’m here to help you get more attuned to, and present in, your body; but it is I who am so deeply grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to find my voice, and to start to blossom in this new and unfamiliar role. Every flower has had to push through the mud.
With deep love and gratitude,
It was a great class Teresa. Half way through I found myself thinking that this was something I wanted to continue doing for the rest of my life. I experienced this really peaceful feeling, my mind slowed down its whirring and I felt present in my body for the first time in a long time. You created that environment, so thank you for that. I am grateful to be on this journey with you. Noel
Thank you so much, Noel. I’m glad to have you in the class, and thrilled that you felt the benefit right from day one! Looking forward to nine more. 🙂