October 24, 2013

Feel the Fear & Teach Anyway. ~ Shasha Cross

5 pointers for yoga teacher trainees.

About halfway through the warm up sequence, it hit me: I have responsibility for this class for the next hour!

Here I was, finally teaching my longed-for first yoga class and thoughts like, “Do I really want to teach yoga?” and “I’m not sure I can do this!” were suddenly crowding my mind.

How long have we submitted to these mental self-saboteurs? Often, a moment like this represents a potentially groundbreaking shift in our attitude from accepting what we feel we have to do in life to choosing what we will do in life.

I had started the class as though I’d been doing it all my life and suddenly it was as though my self was divided into three pieces on that very mat: one following the old pattern of fear and self-stunting decisions, one following her dream to earn a living from the practice she loves, and one who just loves being on the mat, no matter the rewards.

How do you unify these three elements and get what you want out of your training course?

When I chose my course, I was looking for something that would work around my busy life as a single mum and Sports Massage Therapist. Having fallen in love with hot yoga the previous year, I decided that with its variety of teachers, this was the course that would give me the broadest understanding in the environment that I loved.

I couldn’t wait to start and once it began, all my expectations were fulfilled. The workload was of course considerable, and from day one were were teaching each other asanas so that when we flipped the mat, we would be ready to teach with confidence and clarity.

If you are thinking about taking a yoga teaching course, or are currently enrolled, it is worth keeping a few things in mind:

1.     Believe in your dream.

That childlike desire you have to be or do something may seem frivolous, impractical or self-indulgent, but you have been given this desire for a reason. Analyze this and if your motivation rings true, don’t let anyone or anything dampen your enthusiasm for achieving what may seem impossible. A good guide to personal integrity in teaching is to ask yourself, “Will this path benefit others as well as me?”

2.     Practice, practice, practice!

Whether you’ve started your course or you intend to, be on the mat as much as possible, not only in your own space but also with as many different teachers as you can. This will help you see what works for you and what doesn’t, drench you in the asanas and really help you in finding your own voice.

3.    Talk to yourself.

Yes, I mean it! Talk yourself through your personal practice, as if you were teaching your class, even if it’s only in your head. This mental exercise is invaluable for helping terms and instructions to be on the tip of your tongue when you need them.

4.     Recognize your old mental patterns and let them go.

Do the work and know yourself. Do you tend to mentally sabotage your own confidence and success? Find new ways of conversing with your own doubts. Remind them not of what has happened in the past but who you are and where you intend to be in the future.

Go with your instincts and train your mind to be true to who you are rather than any negative experiences you may have had.

5.     Enjoy yourself.

If you are not enjoying your practice, your course or your teaching, why not? Is this really what you want to do? Or are you putting on a teacher face and teaching as someone other than you? Be honest, let go of the facade and watch yourself bloom.

In my own pivotal moment on the mat, I spoke silently to my own insecurities, “This is what you have worked for, longed for and anticipated. You can do this! And more than that, you will enjoy it!”

The splinters reconnected and I moved on with the class.

Suddenly it was more natural, more me; my sense of humor bubbled up and the class really came to life.

We can expect a wobble or two as we feel our way into a new role, but if we give ourselves as much support as we can, we will come out shining at the end, one step closer to the dream.


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Assist Ed: Michelle Margaret / Ed: Catherine Monkman

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Shasha Cross