So you’d think I could teach a yoga class, no problem!
Well, turns out, you’d be right. But the lack of a sound sleep the night before might have fooled you into thinking I was unprepared; it almost fooled me based upon my nervous anticipation in the morning. Hardly the case! Instead, as is typical of me when planning my yoga sessions, I was highly prepared. Having organized the moves and words into sequences, I recited my session over and over in my head, and then earlier in the week took it to my 80 year old Aunt.
As my husband said when giving feedback on my first movement and music session, so my Aunt said when I took her through my newest yoga class: ditch the notes and do what you know best – teach from your heart and your body. Sound advice, as I found out each time, and perhaps this time I’ve internalized that lesson!
When preparing a yoga session, I decide what the focus will be, plan out a sequence of moves (warm ups, poses, stretches, relaxation), match music to the sequence, and find a reading to share at the start. I write it all down, rehearse it in my mind and practice it multiple times on my own, and this time asked my Aunt to be my student, since she would be typical of the students I expected to attend.
The best reminder from my Aunt was to start at the top of the body and work my way down. That is essentially what I do, progressing from the chair to standing and then back to the chair. Yet nervousness about doing a good job and hoping I wouldn’t stumble over my words were enough to give me a fitful sleep the night before.
A little bit of stress is helpful – the positive stress of excitement around which new experiences are incorporated and new learning takes place. The body releases a bit of cortisol that acts as an escort to the new learning and assists it in developing. But too much cortisol can result in escorting that experience right out the door, and that’s what I wanted to avoid!
As I learn to be a yoga teacher, I enjoy the stimulation of planning, and the excited anticipation that comes with starting a new session with a new group of people. I thrive on making the personal connections. I am learning to go with my own flow, and appreciate that all my preparation is necessary to give me the kinesthetic confidence to proceed. Indeed, I believe it is that very preparation that helps regulate my cortisol levels.
The proces is exhilerating – finding places where I can teach, preparing the sessions, meeting new people and hoping to share with them a positive, uplifting, well-being experience.
Yoga is a gift from my Dad. I took to yoga as a way to ease my sadness as he delved deeper into dementia, and to calm my psyche in order to bring smiles and music and joy to our time together. I observed the decline of movement in my Dad and later in my Mom. I saw what it was like to have to leave one’s home and give yourself over to the care of others.
From my parents’ experiences I concluded that music and movement and rhythm, coupled with smiles and gentle touch, can go a long way to uplift spirits and make that time together special. I no longer have either of my parents to share that with, but there’s a whole slew of aging people who deal with the pluses and minuses of getting older, and I hope to share these nuggets with them. Fulfilling for me, and hopefully for the people in my classes!