Teacher Training and Training by Teaching
On Tuesday evening I went to Shannah’s class to feel and hear her loving words, letting them serve as encouragement for a new class I would be teaching on Wednesday. There was a lot of construction going on outside, and of course I sat at the far end of the room, closest to the construction–practically sitting on the noise. I could feel the vibrations of a jackhammer or some other rumbling road tool resonating through my opening Om. Without fail however, (and of course I have no expectations…) Shannah had an original and intense practice mapped out for us. Almost instantly the noises faded into the illusion of reality and the solid earth swallowed the distracting vibrations and allowed me to root firmly for a precious practice.
What I took from Shannah’s class that I wanted to impart on my Wednesday group is the importance of opening up the heart both physically and emotionally. Shannah always does a really amazing job of speaking about the physical heart, identifying in respective poses the “top” of the heart, the “back” of the heart, the “loving” heart.
In my class I wanted to use the heart as a way to talk about acceptance of ourselves in practice. It is my contention, as it is of many yogis, that life begins on the mat. Once a yogi/yogini learns acceptance on the mat– acceptance of the mind, body, and soul– that attitude will more easily exert itself in the world beyond the mat. I did not detail this thought during my class. Instead I asked, during our beginning meditation that everyone set an intention, or a few intentions, but definitely set an intention of acceptance.
Throughout the practice I tried to focus on the heart, pointing out the positions that were strengthening the heart, where the heart was being lifted, and how to focus the breath on the heart. This last part, how to focus the breath on the heart is something I would like to develop more with this group.
There were four women who joined me, of varying ages. I will not even begin to guess, the beauty of age is its mystery. What made me really happy about all of my yoginis was that they were thoroughly attentive, and very interested in the sequence. I was also really impressed by the awareness that these yoginis have for their own bodies. Nobody seemed to be exerting themselves in such a way that looked uncomfortable or painful. That is not to say we didn’t break a sweat, but it is clear to me that these women are in it for mental clarity and not physical performance. I couldn’t be happier with this group! Not to mention the fact that we shared an Om to both start our practice and end it.
Some areas I would like to improve upon are: speaking more articulately and fluently about muscle groups, my lack in this area is a direct result of not having looked at my flashcards in such a way that the muscles and bones are something I understand, right now they are just a jumble of memorized things, and this I think will be easy to address; I would also like to remember to remind my students to think of their initial intention, I think this brings the class full circle, makes it feel whole; and finally, I would like to practice the sequence more than once before the class, that too has been addressed and will no doubt ensure the confidence of my teaching.
One of my new students wrote to me and I love this:
All of us confirmed that we felt relaxed and loopy after the session, and pleasantly sore the next day.