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What Teaching Community Classes Taught Me - 200 Hr YTT

Me getting my certificate with Grace the owner of Awakened

My first yoga class with all the students who were able to stay for the picture. 

Done. Finished. Holy smokes what am I going to do with all my time now.

Super excited "Nemo Arm" Side Crow

I started the awesome journey of going through Yoga Teacher Training at Awakened Yoga studio in October (you can read all about that here --> http://thestayathomemomitall.blogspot.com/2015/02/yoga-teacher-training-with-awakened.html ) After finishing the bulk of the training it was time to jump into the real world of teaching yoga with actual people you don't know in an actual class setting. For our program we had to teach six, one hour long community classes. Most studios have these "community classes" for their teacher trainee programs. These are actual a great way to introduce yourself to yoga because the classes are normally at a discounted price. I'm not going to lie this was a much different experience than teaching with your peers. I was much more nervous around my other trainee friends than I was in a class setting.

After the schedule was out, I picked my dates and I was sure to start on the second weekend because I didn't want to be the first to teach. Low and behold, the first weekend was cancelled and of course I was now the first little lab rat to teach. YIKES. I wrote out my class and practiced my entire class with my music twice per day for the entire week leading up to my first class....was this a good idea? NOPE. I was way over practiced, my voice was way choppy and felt like I was babbling when I couldn't remember what I was going to say. First thing I learned...DON'T OVER PRACTICE, its not helpful at all.

Preparing for the classes was an amazing experience each time. I started off way over eager and wrote down every idea that came to mind in my yoga journal book. I think writing down all your ideas and things you like and don't like are a good idea that way you have them when you are planning a class. However, I quickly realized that I was too focused on the poses and not the class as a whole. 

I go to yoga not only for the poses, but to help me out in my everyday life and to help work through problems. Some days I go to relax or feel powerful, and some days if the teacher has a theme for class I like to normally go with that theme, unless something else more powerful speaks to me or needs attention. 

I realized I wanted to be sure and teach with a theme in mind because that's what I connect with the most and that will be the most authentic way for me to teach. As each week I taught came around, I already had an idea in mind, I would write it down and then BAM middle of the week something would happen and I realized I needed to speak to that and teach about that instead of my original plan. 

I just happened to make my first class about gratitude....and I had another class that was a basic Journey into Power class that focused on breath. But, I came to realize my classes needed more connection to everyday life. So one class we dedicated our practice to someone we were grateful for and did hip and heart openers. Another class the theme was "things you can't control" and to use your breath to focus....this was a super fun class where I incorporated lots of transitions and even a transition to flow facing the back of the room instead of the front. My final class's theme was to do things with purpose to make you feel powerful. I tried to use a lot of special cueing for this one. I spoke to the fact that I was struggling lately with some of the decisions that I had been making and that serves no purpose and doesn't make me feel powerful. But as each class came and went, I realized that for sequencing and theming a successful class for me was based on a theme that spoke to me. I learned to TEACH WHAT SPEAKS TO ME, and to MAKE IT RELATABLE. Obviously that won't work for everyone and you have to teach based on your authentic self, but it always helps me in class when the teacher can connect with the students on a relatable level.  

Also, I'm such a HUGE music person and coming from a dance background we always picked music first then made our routines. So, I took the same approach with my yoga classes. My music isn't typical yoga music. I mostly just use music that I like and what speaks to me...that can be anything from Pink Floyd to Britney Spears to a string quartet. I try to make the energy match the flow, starting slow, then building and falling to slow again. If I had the opportunity to name my own class it would probably be called "Power Flow Beats" or maybe "Flow Jams." But seriously, you know you would take that class. 

The hardest thing for me right now is standing on my mat and teaching, it might not even be a bad thing..... because you sometimes hear people say "that teacher never leaves her mat". I myself enjoy a teacher that moves around the room, along with just moving around the room I started off doing hands on assisting because I don't want to have to relearn a way of doing things later. I wanted to start off teaching, moving, watching and doing hands on assisting. I think the key thing to doing all of them is KNOWING YOUR MATERIAL. This doesn't mean memorizing your flow, but it just means you know what your notes actually mean and you know what the poses are so you can explain them to your students. 

BE FLEXIBLE. Ha, not just because its yoga. But seriously, I learned that I can't just stick to what I wrote down, sometimes I went too fast and sometimes I went to slow. And sometimes, the class just needed something different or I was feeling a different pose would be a better fit pertaining to what I was speaking to. 

Another thing I learned while teaching is to HAVE FUN. Laugh, make jokes, and be your best self. Its okay not to be so serious all of the time. I'm not a serious person, I like to have fun and laugh and tell jokes and if I taught a super serious yoga class it would be completely weird and no one would like it including me. ITS OKAY TO MESS UP, but don't be sorry about it, just move on. Realize your mistakes, who cares if you fumble over some words or say the wrong thing. I'm not perfect and neither is anyone who is taking my class, no matter how much they think they are.

Nervous about being injured added to some of the stress to teaching, as a teacher I feel like I should be able to demo some of the poses I was explaining. But, it was also interesting to see people's reaction of me teaching with my serious injury and how I would modify my teaching. I learned I need to USE WHAT IS AROUND ME AND ALL OF MY RESOURCES AND TOOLS. I need to use a block when I teach and use the students to show pose demos. That can connect me with my students more and save my shoulder from less pain and my doctor from less headache (HA, I know you are reading this doc.) But seriously, I use lots of modifications in my everyday practice so why not in my teaching. BE AUTHENTIC. 

LEARN TO REDEFINE THE WORD FEEDBACK. Feedback can be super scary especially from your peers, but if its truly constructive feedback coming from a good place, feedback can be a very strong tool to help you grow and learn. Even if its something that worked for some and didn't work for others some thing small is always great. It can be hard because some people just come to take your class and get lost in their yoga, and they aren't necessarily there so they can give feedback, so you can give a reverse affect when asking someone to give you feedback when they didn't expect to. Sometimes learning to not take things to heart and use them for growth can be challenging, but if you redefine the word in your mind you can see it differently.

MOSTLY I LEARNED WHO I REALLY AM. What I learned was that I absolutely love teaching yoga and I hope people love it when I teach yoga. I also learned I get a lot out of the classes I am teaching. But, what I really learned was that I have a huge support system of friends and family throughout this entire process and I am so grateful for each and everyone of them. Their encouragement and support has been my foundation and I couldn't have done it without them. 

Yoga has taught me many things, but mostly it's made me an incredibly awesome person (yes I am pretty confident/ borderline cocky). Seriously though, I am happier than I have ever been, I still have doubts, issues, and worry about stupid things; but yoga has taught me how to deal with these things in a better and more positive way. I just hope that I can teach and expand upon what yoga has taught me and I hope I can help others find that as well. 

Lastly, I want to refile the word "teach" and change it to guide, because I've only had 200 hours of YTT plus 25 hrs of SUP yoga training and what that tells me is that I am still new and still have so much to learn myself. So if I have truly learned anything it is that I'M NOT THERE TO TEACH, BUT TO GUIDE AND SHARE MY PRACTICE WITH OTHERS. I'm no yoga master and I don't have the answers to lots of questions, and stuff like that will come with lots more practice, learning, and training with time. I think telling myself that over and over again will keep my attitude in check and keep me more relatable as a "teacher". 

I'm excited to rewrite this post one year from now and focus on feedback for myself on things that worked and didn't work. 




Finished teaching my last class. (Pictured from left to right: Me, Grace - Awakened's Owner, Sophia - friend) 




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