When Subbing Sucks. ~ Taralyn Farrell

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An ode to substitute yoga teachers.

I read the email plea, several days in a row,

Desperately seeking a substitute power yoga teacher, as she heads to Cairo.

Subbing is a gift, yoga teachers often need.

It takes a special person to do the dirty deed.

I spend my days with seniors; we stretch in the chair.

As we stand for Warrior pose, we hold on tight without a care.

My classes with teen girls, we giggle and we breathe,

We master one plank push-up, then sigh with relief.

A Power Yoga class, however, is a whole other breed.

They come with a specific purpose and a great need.

Alignment always perfect and each pose must compete.

Why do I feel this class is only for the elite?

I look through the door and see the students’ determined faces,

Their apparel is stunning and their tats in perfect places.

As I enter the room, the silence hangs heavy,

Like deers in a headlight, trapped with no levy.

They look around and wonder what have they done.

Should they flee out the back door, break free and run?

Their questions hang in silent bubbles over their heads:

“Where is our beloved teacher, this will not do.

My time is precious and not to be wasted on you!”

Yogi girl in the front corner, is heading ferociously forward on her own.

She’s not wasting her lunch hour without getting toned.

I think to myself, I am getting to that pose, please wait for me!

You may not find me in Side Crow, but I can do a damn good Tree.

As we bring our palms together at the heart’s center,

My hands begin to tremble and legs begin to shake.

I wrap my fingers and clench tightly together,

Not sure how much more I can take.

I cringe inside and continue to fret and worry more.

I am nothing like the gifted teacher I am subbing for.

I push myself to the limit, falling into my own trap

Not realizing within the room, there are many skill-level gaps.

I look to the back row and find a student in a struggle.

I realize now, she is new to yoga and having major trouble.

Wrapped in my own self-concern, oh, what have I done?

Trying so hard to impress, I may have lost another one!

I say to myself over and over: Let it go, let it go.

Free all judgment, competition and expectations.

How could I stoop so low?

This class is not about me—

I am here to bring peace, guidance and tranquility.

As we head to Savasana, all faces look relieved,

Although the student in the back still looks a little peeved.

Our heart rate slows down as we sink into the mat,

We breathe into our bellies and attempt to ease our mind from chat.

In closing my hands still hold a tremor,

As students head for the door.

Faces look grateful and content, but wait—there is more!

Several students come over and graciously question,

“Where and when else do you teach, you have not mentioned?

We enjoyed your class so much and you have relieved all of our tension!”

Taralyn Farrell is a certified yoga instructor, residing in Apex, North Carolina.  She teaches at the UNC Wellness Center, IBM, Lifetime Fitness, APA and with the Town of Cary. Taralyn enjoys working with teens and athletes, men who cannot bend and gentle yoga for seniors.  For more, check out her website.


Editor: Alexandra Grace/Lynn Hasselberger

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anonymous Jun 19, 2012 5:25pm

note to Machelle Landowski

anonymous Jun 12, 2012 8:02pm

such a great poem! Loved the ending- congrats!

anonymous Jun 12, 2012 7:33am

Wonderful words that I am sure many yoga subs can relate to. I enjoyed from the very beginning to the very end when some students asked you where you teach.

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 9:06pm

Thank you, Emily. Glad to know I am not the only one with a racing thoughts while teaching a class. I need to quiet the mind! Easier said than done.

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 9:04pm

This is awesome !!!

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 8:41pm

this is adorable!!!

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 7:28pm

I felt like you were reading my mind re: subbing. This was great!

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 6:19pm

i hear you. i subbed for the studio owner yesterday and was afraid for my life. worked out in the end, though.

    anonymous Jun 11, 2012 9:02pm

    Thanks Mccubma! That sounds very intimidating to sub for a studio owner. I am happy it worked out for you. We probably place higher expectations on ourselves than the students are anticipating from us in class. They have their own worries and expectations of themselves.

anonymous Jun 11, 2012 5:49pm

kinda cute.
Plese remember.. the students came for a reason. The teacher advertised for a power sub. If you can't do power, then dont sub in it.
Your presence is the beginning. Then the soft slow careful warm words which begin a practice. Have a list and a routine worked out and only demo those which you wish to dempo. Also as you ar ethe teacher you can pop into a pose and drop out quickly an dhave the students hold i tlonger. You can say 30 situps or curlups or knee to chest and begin with 5 and stop and watch class and comment and then do the last 6.
Be the teacher, the one who sets a good tone, of self introspection, of intent, of good practice.

    anonymous Jun 12, 2012 1:07am

    Sometimes openness to something entirely different than you expected is the greatest blessing of all. I love this poem because it talks about mind chatter we all can so easily relate to. We all get stuck into our own monkey mind and forget our heart intention, yet when we remember . . .that's the yoga
    It is interesting how students of power yoga often are the most in need of yin . . .

anonymous Jun 15, 2012 7:17am

be the teacher, the one who sets a good, calm even tone. Be prepared. Be at peace with your self and that which you offered to do. if a couple typos bug you or cause sarcasm you may not be ready to sub, teach or lead. Life is short.

anonymous Jun 19, 2012 5:23pm

typos? bug you?