“I am here to deepen my practice. I don’t think I will be teaching.” this is what I said when I started a yoga teacher training with Bri and Dice back in June 2019. I was quite sure that I will not be teaching because I generally hate public speaking, and more importantly, I was quite unsure of my capability as a practitioner and as a teacher. Self-confidence was never really my thing despite how I present myself.
What I discovered during the training though was that I really enjoy the process of coming up with new sequences and transitions. I also really enjoy helping other classmates to get into new poses. Teaching scared me to death, but, after a few rounds of practice teachings, I figured that it was not too bad after all. Positive reinforcement was at play big time here in my teaching journey - it was through praises and encouragement from my classmates, Bri, and Dice that made me think "hey! I got this! I think I can do it after all."
Right after my training, I decided to do a few free private classes for my friends as a practice. I learned very quickly that it was a much more difficult task to teach a beginner class than an intermediate level class - case in point of what I learned from my training really. I folded my teaching plan into the pocket for a while until I ran into Martina, another yoga teacher INSEAD friend, who suggested that we teach together. Despite my quick "yes" response, my brain was processing risk for embarrassment and failures at the speed of light - I was, once again, quite scared of teaching.
Being a "planner" that I am, I planned my first public class to the level of word-by-word script. I also practiced my sequence at least 2-3 times before my class (which is only 30 mins since we split the class half-half). What happened in the end? I threw away half of my script in reality and just focused on whatever came to my head in the class. This plan and go-with-the-flow then become quite a consistent theme of my teaching experience. Don't get me wrong. It was not really the lack of proper planning and discipline that is at play, but rather the responsibility as a teacher that would say:
"I don't think we have warmed up enough yet. I will need to do some other stuff to get people ready for the peak poses"
"Oh no! I think my plan might be too difficult for the class today", or even
"Shit! I planned for a basic class, but the students today are quite advanced".
The most difficult part was not really throwing away my plan though. Being a non-native speaker, it was more of my struggle of finding the right way to explain things that I did not plan for. On the bright side though, it was such a great practice to really test my knowledge and understanding of alignment. That is why I was quite overjoyed when some of my students say "your cues were very on-point." All thanks to my teachers on this compliment by the way!
As an introvert, non-native speaker, and someone who hates public speaking, teaching yoga classes was not really something I find very indulging. However, it was a great learning experience as a practitioner. It was also a test of mental strength. And... after a while, I really have fun with it! Will I consider quitting my job to be a full-time teacher? Probably not. But will I continue teaching? Definitely yes!
Once again, what I learned from this is just a case example of what my coaches and mentors kept telling me "you won't know how capable you are or whether you are going to like anything until you give it a full all-out try". I did, and I'm lovin' it.