May 16, 2014

Lessons I Learned as a Newbie Yoga Instructor. ~ Suzanne Poldon


There are certain things in life that cannot be explained in words.

These ineffable experiences can also be the most life-altering and transformative, and create a swelling of emotion in the heart that begs to be shared.

One of these epiphanous moments occurred following a teen yoga class I led recently. Being a relatively new teacher, remaining confident in my role is a work in progress. It can be disconcerting when, try as I might to be clear and straightforward, the students simply cannot comprehend my cues. As they leered at me with their “what the hell is she talking about?” eyes, my fear-based ego added to the dis-ease, trying to convince me of my inadequacy.

Another challenge that this particular class posed was the limitless energy and the lack of focus among the group.

I am fortunate to have learned from my own instructors, that as a yoga teacher, your job is to show up and be fully present for the students. Taking in this nugget of wisdom into account, I put my hands on my heart, refocused, and continued to guide the energy in the room as it presented itself. Since the group was particularly energetic, I led them through sun salutations, and challenged them to connect movement with breath. Harnessing their energy seemed to have worked, as evidenced by a few soft snores during closing savasana.

As my playlist ended, I breathed a sigh of relief that we all made it through in one piece.

Closing with collective breaths and a namaste, I invited feedback, silently hoping that the rowdy teenagers that faced me wouldn’t be too critical. Much to my surprise, a young boy gave me an exuberant high-five and thanked me for the class. A young girl who had seemed particularity confused and unimpressed throughout the series, came to me with bright eyes and asked how she could get enrolled in classes on a regular basis. She explained to me that the class was “awesome” and “made me feel great.” My heart grew three sizes at the thought that the class had provided inspiration for yoga to become a part of her life.

All of that is a long-winded way of saying that we teach yoga, not to wield power or terrorize your triceps in chaturanga, but because we understand how powerful a tool yoga can be. Providing a safe space where yoking the physical, mental, and spiritual aspects of the person with this beautiful practice can occur serves as our motivation and keeps us coming back for more.

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Apprentice Editor: Kathryn Muyskens / Editor: Renée Picard

Photos: Wikimedia Commons

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