June 5, 2012

How My Yoga Students Saved Me. ~ Robyn Greenhouse

"Bent Out of Shape," Yoga and Relationships

Often yoga students might express to their teacher, “Thanks I enjoyed your class,” or “Thanks that really helped me open my hips.”

But what I, as a teacher, want to express is a thank you to my students.

What many students might not realize is how they inspire their teacher as well.

Often students place their teachers, whether yoga teachers or classroom teachers, on pedestals. I know I am guilty of doing this with my yoga teachers. I expected them to always be on time. To always know their right from left when giving instructions. To have their lesson plan memorized. And yet, they are human too.

They don’t ask to be on a pedestal because the chance of falling off this pedestal is pretty high. No matter how hard or how dedicated a teacher is, as humans there is always that chance for error.

So when I became a yoga teacher, the pressure I put on myself to live up to my expectations of a yoga teacher were very high. I listened to yoga tapes nonstop. I reviewed yoga videos on YouTube constantly. The number of books I purchased on yoga could fill a library. The bar I set was so high I made it unattainable!

The reason it was unattainable is that I’m not a machine. Sometimes when teaching I mean to say “left foot,” I see the left foot and somehow I hear myself saying “right foot” in my cue.

Sometimes during my class, when we finish the right side, I might miss a pose or two during a sequence of cues for the left side.

Once during a class, the room was getting hot. I hadn’t quite figured out how to control the temperature and the room was heating up quickly for what was not supposed to be a heated yoga class! After getting water for everyone, I returned to the front of the studio. Looking out at the students as they eagerly awaited instructions the only words I could find to say were, “I have no idea where we left off.

And you know what? It was okay. In fact, everyone shared a good laugh as the sweat continued to pour down our faces. No one was upset. We were happy to just be on our mats. It was a great lesson in patience.

I continued to teach this class and others. Even with this lesson under my belt or rather under my mat, I still demanded of myself to be the best. In truth, it was exhausting.

I talked it over with a much more experienced yoga teacher who suggested that I just continue to teach but move from my heart.

While I loved this idea, as a teacher and a way to experience life, I was still too new to enter a classroom of paying students without my lesson plan handwritten just hidden out of eyesight of the students.

So, I decided to take a break from the paying studio and return to volunteering teaching yoga classes to those who are going through troubling experiences.

It is these classes and students that saved me. Thank you so much, I will forever be indebted to these students.

Week after week they show up. Going more with the flow of the students, the feel of the class, they don’t mind if I change my music in the middle of class because I’ve decided to change where the class is headed. In fact, teaching more from my heart than from the piece of paper that is my security blanket should I forget what I had planned, I feel myself shift into a zone. A zone of complete ease and flow with the class.

I practice sharing what I’ve learned on my yoga journey. I might share a simple thought, the reason for deep breaths, or how to take your yoga practice off your mat and into your world.

And the exciting thing is that the students are listening.

While I placed pressure on myself as a teacher, I’m learning through my students. Not by lowering the bar, because I always want to keep learning, but to be okay with where I land in relation to that bar each class. While a yoga class can’t solve the issues for these students, it can help ease them through their trying times.Whether it’s the moves or just knowing they will have a chance to focus on themselves, we are here together supporting one another.

Looking back to when I first started teaching, my students didn’t mind any mistakes or missteps I took along the way. They gave me support and even constructive criticism that was helpful.

My experience of moving from yoga student to yoga teacher has been an uphill battle to quiet that inner voice that asks, “Who do I think I am teaching this ancient wisdom?”

Well, I’m here to say I’m a human just wanting to share something I love that has helped me to find balance, mindfulness and more importantly a way to quiet that little nagging voice inside myself.

From here onward, I’m moving forward trusting my abilities and myself. I’m not perfect, but who is? I don’t know everything about the benefits of yoga, but I’m willing to put the time in to learn.

Thank you to all my students for supporting me along this bumpy journey and coming to class! I’ll try to keep the heat at the right temperature.

I’ll try to remember my right from my left.

I’ll work on following my heart because somehow this has always proven the right path for me.

Most importantly, I know I’ll make mistakes but at least I’m out there trying!



Editor: Hayley Samuelson.


Robyn Greenhouse is a born again writer! Her childhood dream of being an author suddenly came back to life on her 45th birthday! Now, along with her husband, Stephen, she raises her 3 boys and 2 dogs, teaches kids and adults yoga, and writes on her blog Adventures in Laugher, Exercise and Eating Well. Please check out her blog at www.laughwithme45.blogspot.com.

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