A friend of mine recently posted a Facebook status about how to better keep your resolutions. In short, she suggested to break one huge task down into smaller, do-able tasks. So simple, but it was like that DUH lightbulb went off in my brain. So often we challenge ourselves with goals, resolutions, intentions—whatever you want to call them—and they are so massive that it becomes overwhelming and we eventually give up.
When I was first learning to teach yoga I was overwhelmed by remembering an entire hour’s sequence—let alone a 75 or 90 minute class! I was so nervous I would leave something crucial out, mix up right and left, or just completely brain fart out and stand there like a deer in headlights in front of an entire roomful of people.
My first few classes, I wrote down every single movement. I didn’t want to appear incompetent so I didn’t really look at my notes, but it was just nice to have them there as support or reference if I needed them. I would beat myself up if I left out a transition or mixed up the order I had arbitrarily set for my class, and just be so frustrated that I wasn’t at that place of teaching comfortably yet. I would watch seasoned teachers twirl into a room two minutes before class and ask people what they wanted to work on, and then come up with this brilliant sequence on the spot. I wanted to be at that place as an instructor so badly.
Eventually I learned how to learn. Things started to stick in my brain naturally in “chunks”. I’d remember all the open hip stuff, then the closed hip stuff, then what transitions worked well, what was easy to cue in and out of, and it all started to fall together and make sense. I started to branch out and teach really long and complex sequences, which now, looking back on it, was a little much. Simple is often so much better.
I made this realization about myself, and maybe you can relate to it too. Oftentimes, as I start to get more comfortable with a process I have a tendency to make it more complicated than it really is because I think I subconsciously like to work in a state of frenetic energy that keeps me on my toes. In other words, I work better under pressure. When I start to become comfortable and there is no pressure, I have to create pressure for myself. This, as I’m realizing, is counterproductive. I begin to concentrate more on fancy transitions and less on what is going on in my student’s bodies. One of my goals in the practice of my teaching in 2015 is to really SEE my students. To stop making the practice that I offer about me. Every class does not need to be the most challenging, complex, and unique vinyasa sequence ever known to man. My goal is to be able to walk into a room, read my students’ energies and teach to that. To learn how to give people what they need rather than what they want or what I think they want.
So this is a lofty goal and I am once again reminded that I must break it down into a do-able task. My first order of business is to simply ask people how they are feeling. To let go of my idea of what a “good” practice should look like. To notice the looks on people’s faces. To really watch body language. To hear, see, and feel my students. I love teaching yoga and I want my teaching to evolve to where I am not just offering a physical challenge, but rather being open and flexible enough to change my ideas and tailor them to the energy I feel in the room each day.