I just taught my first yoga class…

And I survived. Oh, and so did the students hah.

I didn’t go into my class tonight expecting to be this amazing teacher right out of training. I went in understanding that not every teacher is perfect because perfection is impossible, and that every teacher gets better with every class they teach. I knew that I was probably going to make a mistake or six, but that each mistake would make me a better teacher. I was okay with knowing that I might mess up my sequence that I had planned, and that I might mix up my lefts and my rights (I did). And I was actually okay with showing my vulnerability to these people I didn’t know, because it takes a considerable amount of courage to stand up in front of a class and pour your heart and soul into a class. I knew that showing this side of me would possibly allow me to connect with a student on a deeper level, and that’s what I really wanted. I didn’t expect to make this huge impact on every single person I taught, just to someone who might have needed it the most tonight.

All that being said, I was still a nervous wreck all day knowing that I was going to stand in front of a group of people tonight and ask them to do all kinds of crazy things with their bodies. And even though I tried my hardest not to put this pressure on myself, that’s definitely an easier said then done task. It’s terrifying to stand in front of people and try to connect with them on a physical and mental level. Add to that how much goes behind actually teaching a class it’s no wonder why you truly have to be passionate about yoga to be a teacher; there’s coming up with a class that flows and opens up the body in it’s sequential order (so you don’t injure anyone), there’s spiritual theme-ing, controlling your voice, making sure the heat is not too hot or too cold, creating a playlist that matches the flow of your class, ensuring you’re assisting properly in the right areas, making sure you’re calling the right poses and cuing them effectively, accommodating the various levels of practitioners in your class, demonstrating while trying to talk at the same time…the list goes on and on!

Not to mention that I am almost 6 months pregnant and I had to constantly check my ego not to beat myself up because I can’t hold certain poses or get into poses as gracefully while teaching at the same time. The pressure, guys, it’s insane 😉

But I’m really not trying to make this sound like the hardest job ever. I just wish I would have known about supplements called nootropics that can combat these nerves I was experiencing. Nootropic supplements like Phenibut, Aniracetam, and Noopept are all great for easing anxiety, and the best part is they have other great benefits too.  In the end my class turned out great, but I bet these nootropic supplements would have put me at ease and minimized all the worrying!

Teaching just happens to be an organic, overwhelming process. There is SO much more to teaching than standing in front of a class, asking them to do poses that come naturally to you. Especially when you’re so emotionally invested in yoga, teaching is not something that you take lightly. I never realized how much went behind a class until I attended training but now my mind has been blown with how much time and effort goes behind a class. When your teacher stands in front of you, she or he is pouring their heart out to you with something they’re so passionate about.

And that’s why I worked up so much emotion going my first yoga class tonight.

As for the actual class, it wasn’t bad considering how my day started with a 5 hour trip to the ER since Caleb has been dealing with croup and bronchilitis this week. My mind and emotions were completely taxed by the time I left for my class and on the drive there, I could not shut my mind off about today’s events. I tried a few breathing exercises to no avail so I did the next best thing…I turned up Macklemore’s Thrift Shop song full blast and repeated to myself “this is fuken awesome” the rest of the drive. I guess that could be considered my mantra for the evening because it worked, I had myself convinced that tonight was going to be “fuken awesome”. And it was!

Since it was a warm candlelit vinyasa class, I tried to keep the class somewhat relaxing but I will admit that I made the students hold planks, chatarungas and a few warriors for quite some time so hopefully no one hates me too much tomorrow.

Again, I mixed up my lefts and rights a few times but not as much as I thought I would. A few times I caught myself saying something ridiculous like “Raise your hips to your heels” but I let a little personality through by sarcastically following up with “oh wait, because that’s totally possible…just kidding, don’t actually do that”. I got a few chuckles out of it so I guess it really doesn’t hurt to incorporate a little personality into your class, haha.

I ended up skipping a lot of the back bending poses I had planned, and even messed up the order of some poses but I’m pretty sure no one could tell but me. Or at least I’m hoping no one could tell. And surprisingly, I didn’t stay on my mat the entire time, I found myself walking around cue-ing poses and assisting students. My confidence in getting off my mat really shocked me since my mat is my crutch and I thought I would be glued to it.

At the beginning of the class, I thought to myself, how the hell am I going to get through an hour of this class? But the class actually went by faster than I thought since I was in such a haze of nerves. Then towards the end of the class when I started to feel my stride and my confidence grew, I actually wished I had more time. Cuh-ray-zay!

The best part of tonight was watching the bodies melt into complete relaxation during savasana, and I even had a student whisper “thank you” when I placed a lavender soaked towel over her eyes. That little “thank you” made me smile ear to ear and etched in my mind that at the very least I’m doing something right for someone. It was also so amazing seeing these students actually doing what I was telling them to do, I couldn’t believe they understood my words (well, most of them) and that they were sweating, breathing, and enjoying themselves. I did that! Holy balls!

The icing on the cake was how several students were shocked when I told them that I was six months pregnant and had no idea that this was my first class. One student even came up to me to express how happy and excited she was that we practiced inversion preps and inversions. Getting such a wonderfully specific compliment like that just blew my mind because the entire time there was this tiny voice in my head that kept telling me that my class was a disaster. But hearing that compliment just shut that pesky voice the hell right up! I wanted to squeeze her and ask her to “tell me more girlfriend!” haha.

So that’s how my first class went! After all of the heartache, intensive training, and this exhilarating experience of teaching for the first time, I am now officially a bona fide yoga teacher. I was a glass case of emotions today but it still ended up being an experience of pure thrill for me.

I teach again this Saturday and I know I’ll probably falter a few more times here and there, but I’m completely willing to learn from my errors. I want to keep going and going until I become a better teacher and I fully accept that no matter how hard I try, not everyone is going to accept me. But as long as I can reach out to one person, I’ll know that I’ve done my job successfully. And what an exciting, fulfilling job it will be.

Can’t wait to see a few of you on Saturday!

My Yoga Teacher Training Experience Part 1

As I’m sure you’re all aware by now, I finished the first 10 day session of yoga teacher training. I wanted to write about everything while it was still fresh in my mind but I knew that if I tried I wouldn’t sound very coherent because my brain was FRIED. In fact, I’m pretty sure if I attempted to write a post so soon after the session, it would turn out like this: “yoga yoga aldkakadfa I want cake aldjakf yoga ahdalkdfjakjfak”.

So here I am with a clear mind, a week later, and ready to reveal why those 10 days have been so emotionally, physically and mentally challenging, and why those 10 amazing days will go down as one of the best 10 days ever. Get ready because this is going to be LONG…and I’m only covering a few things with this post too. Yikes.

1. To start, our first day of class opened with a discussion on yoga and religion which caught my attention right away. I was raised Christian and always wondered if practicing yoga could conflict with my background but those thoughts were nipped in the bud immediately when our teachers explained in depth that yoga can basically enhance your own relationship with whoever your God may be. They explained the in depth history behind yoga and I was so relieved to learn that I wasn’t secretly converting myself to Hinduism.

2. Something I wasn’t prepared for going into this training was how much meditation would be involved. Again, I always figured that meditating was a religious thing with yoga so it was never something I went out of my way to practice. I meditated here and there for 10 minutes or so, without ever really knowing what I was doing so I never reaped any full benefits from it other then falling asleep (and sleep is always a benefit in my opinion).

Once I started the training, I finally understood that meditation is the practice of being still and learning to be present. The importance of this is so that we learn to be still and present in the moment when it translates to our daily lives. Being present in the moment allows the body to respond instead of react, so that when we become present, we learn to create space and reprogram our urges to react a certain way. It allows us to deal with whats happening the present moment, and not at just what happened or could possibly happen later. Does that make sense?

An example would be getting rear ended on the way to an interview. Instead of panicking and thinking “well now I’m going to be late for this interview, I’ll never get the job, I won’t be able to afford that vacation I wanted next year”, being present in the moment allows us to think about just getting through the accident without getting worked up over something that may not even happen later. You might be late for the interview and miss out on this job but what if another job that’s even more rewarding falls into your lap?

The point is to not get so worked up over something that may not even turn out to be horrible. It’s about taking what the universe (or God) throws at you, and learning to work with what you’ve got at the moment. And it’s about taking things in stride, and not letting your emotions get the best of you. Meditation helps us create this space before our emotions, so that we can learn to use our energy effectively elsewhere.

3. When people say that going through yoga teacher training is a transformational experience, they’re not kidding. During the 10 days I was in training, I noticed that I was letting things slide a lot more easily. When I got cut off by a crazy driver, instead of flicking him off or cursing to myself, my thoughts were instead replaced with “maybe he’s got a pregnant wife in labor” or “man, I am not a fan of you right now, but I still hope you have a nice day”. This applied to almost everything during that week and even now.

The thing is, I normally do think this way before reacting harshly, but I have to make such an effort to do so. During the training, I noticed that responding in a kinder manner to things that would normally irritate me, came a lot more easily and without any real effort. I became so much more calm and learned to look at things with peace, instead of anger. And I really believe that all the meditation we did is the biggest contributor on why I’m now able to control my emotions a little more. From meditating I learned that peace is a matter of retraining my mind to deal with life as it currently is, and not what I think it should be.

4. My teachers are absolutely freaking out of this world AMAZING. They know their yoga, and they know their shit. They live, breathe, and ARE all things yoga epitomizes. I have such an admiration for the two brothers that I’m doing my training under, and the word respect does no justice for how I feel about these guys.

During our lessons, they’re able to provide scientific evidence to almost every thing that is done during yoga and it utterly blows my mind just how much science goes behind it all. I absolutely love it. They’re huge science nerds yet they make it so appealing to those that are not with humorous anecdotes and by using real life experiences to describe things.  They’re genuine, hilarious, and they really know how to keep a class interesting without boring us all to sleep. I mean, here I am halfway through my pregnancy and cooped up in a room for 11 hours and they still haven’t put me to sleep. That’s saying a lot here.

But what I really admire most about them is how they keep it real with their stories and their personalities. They have no qualms about admitting that they’re not perfect and that yoga doesn’t make them the perfect husband, brother, yogi, etc. which makes them so much more easy to relate to.

And look, there’s even a documentary being made about them (and a few other yoga gurus I’m a total fangirl about):

5. As I mentioned in this post, I got into yoga mainly for the health benefits. Then it turned into so much more for me when it clicked that yoga is so much more then just about the body. And even though the body is such an important aspect in yoga (why else would we do such amazing things with our bodies during our practice?) during this training I learned that there is so much more to yoga then I originally believed.

I’ve always prided myself on playing it safe with my body and never getting injured, so when it was stressed during our class that yoga is so much more then just sinking into our joints and trying to get as bendy as possible, I perked up. I was interested in learning the other side of this beautiful adventure that I can’t get enough of.

As it turns out, yoga doesn’t have much to do with our ability to perform a posture but everything to do with our ability to pay attention. We do poses because it teaches us to pay attention to our bodies and to learn to be still through the pose, so that we can be “still” in our real lives.

Another point that really stood out to me was that the highest level of practice is not the one that goes the deepest, but the one that knows it’s own body and is the most in tune with it. Instead of hurting ourselves to get into a deep pose, what happens in 10, 15, 20 years to our bodies? We can aim to get there, but at what cost? I learned that we should be strong with where our body is, concetrate on that very strength and not at what you want to get strong at. I learned just how important it is to always practice in a sustainable matter to ensure avoiding pain years from now. And I learned that we all need to be a little more thankful and kinder to our wonderful bodies.

Whoo! This post has gotten long enough so I’m going to end this here. But can you believe that I still haven’t touched on half of the other topics I really wanted to talk about?! I honestly can’t wait to discuss our spiritual discussions, the 8 limb path, breakdown of poses, and why there’s so much more to being a  yoga teacher then just telling a class to inhale and exhale.

Stick with me here though, mmkay? I do have a pretty sweet giveaway coming up 😉