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Plight of the RYT [Rookie Yoga Teacher] – Part I

April 26, 2011

My teaching schedule just went from 0 – 60 in 4.2 seconds [which even beats out the Maserati I have in my make believe life. Whoa].

Photo Credit: WheelsandMore

[Vroom]

Last week was insanity and also every new teacher’s dream. I took on a new class [enthusiasm beyond verbal expression permits] and also had the opportunity to sub a few classes for an injured teacher who also happens to be a good friend yoga sister. Throw in a request for a future private session and I was stoked. Then it hit me: I was teaching SIX classes in one week in addition to working. Anxiety set in. The “omg-how-will-I-handle-it-all-I’m-not-ready-for-this-but-I-am-so-ready-for-this” complex began. Was my body ready to teach so many classes in one week? When would I have my own practice? When would I plan my classes? When would I EAT?! [oh, the horror!].

The good news: I survived. The bad news: I realized that I am completely insane and also self-centered. That, or, perhaps experiencing the yoga teacher’s rite of passage. Only time will tell.

Following is a chronicle of the Plight of the R.Y.T. (Rookie Yoga Teacher), Week One:

Monday: Preparation day. Very enthusiastic. Practice, errands, mental pumping-up. Set alarm clock for day ahead. Sheer joy!

Tuesday: Alarm clock snafu. Wake 20 minutes before early-morning class. Yelling and cursing [very un-yoga-like] and general disgust towards self. No time to pack lunch. No time for bathroom coffee. Class #1: They are not jumping for joy at 6:50 a.m. They must hate me. I am not as good as the regular teacher. I didn’t challenge and/or nurture them enough. My hair looks stupid. Class #2: This class rocks and I am giving them exactly what they need. The lady in the corner is panting but is smiling. Perfect combination of challenge and relaxation. Plus, this top fits great. I am awesome [again, very un-yoga-like].

Wednesday: Sleep in. Do nothing of consequence due to emotional exhaustion of preceding day. Venture out to purchase new alarm clock. Tell sales associate at Best Buy that I am a yoga teacher and need a new alarm in order to wake for the multitude of early-morning classes I teach. Begin to feel very legitimate.

Thursday: New alarm clock works like magic. Wake 3 hours early just to be safe. Drink too much coffee. Class #1: Way too many people in tiny room. Stereo not working so iPhone playing in corner of room [ghetto]. Trying to calm down from three cups of coffee [hello, this is a gentle class]. They don’t notice and are happy. New student leaves upbeat and promises to come back. I am awesome again. Class #2: Anxiety spike since friends from studio attending. Clearly, they will discover that I am a phony and know nothing about yoga. I am depressed again. Music snafu to boot. Must flow to sounds of nature [gasp!]. They must hate me. Nobody gets injured. Savasana during sunset. They clap at end of class. I am happy again (But my outfit might look dumb).

Friday: Wake 2 hours early just to be safe. Less coffee this morning. Class #1: Kick a$$ flow. Feeling energetic and don’t care how my hair looks. Did not plan class and have no notes to fall back on. Don’t care. Class is success anyway. I must be a natural yoga teacher since class just flows from inside. Who needs notes?

Saturday: Lounge in sun all morning. Life is awesome. Class #1: No one shows. I am clearly too fat/inflexible/boring to be a yoga teacher. Ah, three people arrive. Guess I’m not so bad. They look happy. Given a compliment during an adjustment. Guess I’m an ok teacher. Forget to do sequence on left side. THIS IS WHY I NEED MY NOTES!! Class laughs it off. Breathe sigh of jubilation/exhaustion after savasana. Put on my princess crown and demand The Big Guy fetch Thai food. At home, submerge face in sip glass of red wine and realize I survived.

Sunday: Reminded of the importance of bringing yoga to the people. It’s not about me. Realize that I survived my first week as a real yoga teacher and how good it feels to bring yoga to others. Also realize that I got EXACTLY what I wanted. Start feelin’ alright!

[Go on. Rock out, peeps!]

So, tell me about your plight as a Rookie Yoga Teacher. Am I the only crazy one or can we share a room at the looney bin?

. . .

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. April 26, 2011 11:03 am

    congrats on getting through your first week and being able to remember just how important your work is. I have so much admiration and gratitude for yoga instructors! :)

    Thanks so much for sharing! :)

    • April 26, 2011 1:37 pm

      Thanks, Jenny! It is of utmost importance – something to remember when we start getting caught up in insecurity. It’s all about the yoga!! :)

  2. April 26, 2011 11:16 am

    This is awesome :-) You ARE legit, your outfit was spot on, the sounds of nature (and car crashes) were perfect, and as one yogini to another…you rocked it. Thanks for stretching out your comfort level for us! ♥

    • April 26, 2011 4:30 pm

      Kelly, you’re so sweet! It was a pleasure having you and thanks for the encouragement – getting out of our comfort zone is where the awesome stuff happens and I’m really starting to like it there! :-)
      P.S. Sometimes the train comes by during savasana, too. lol!

  3. April 26, 2011 3:20 pm

    i couldn’t get past the photo. drool. (just kidding, i read the whole thing. not joking about the slobbering part, tho.)

    congrats!!!! you made it! that’s some serious stuff and it sounds like you rocked it with a good head on your shoulders and the want to do more. very, very cool. :)

    • April 26, 2011 4:54 pm

      Hehehee. Drool is right! Holy vroomster. Thanks for the kudos – it was definitely a milestone and I can’t believe it’s happening. And the more I do it, the more my insecurity subsides. Down with the mind saboteur! :-)

  4. April 26, 2011 5:56 pm

    Love this post! I have gone through many of the same roller coaster emotions during the first few month of teaching yoga. I might suggest that you just pull your hair back in a ponytail and then you won’t have to worry if the hair looks stupid (which I’m sure it doesn’t).

    I love that feeling of bliss after teaching a great class and hate the feeling when it is just a few minutes before class and it looks like no one is going to show up.

    Don’t let your ego get in the way – she will try to be your mistress telling you that you are not good enough, etc. etc. – that is what she is there to do, so just let her know she is not the mistress of your mind – you are!

    Rock On!

  5. April 26, 2011 6:56 pm

    Best blog I’ve read today!

    I agree with Maria – don’t let your ego get ahold of you now. Not only will she lie and say you aren’t good enough, but just when you think you are the best darn yoga teacher ever – you will fall to the floor when you demonstrate a pose!

    It’s all part of yoga, teaching and life.

    Keep up the good work!

    • April 26, 2011 10:49 pm

      Thanks, Jennifer! It was really jarring to observe how much my ego affected me this week. It was a GREAT learning experience. You said it – in yoga, and life, we have to be ok with falling while everyone’s looking! We just have to keep showing up. :-)

  6. April 26, 2011 9:42 pm

    you know what is amazing – how nothing REALLY changed from class to class except your own perceptions. which just shows how much we rely on external stimulus for our happiness. that being said, sounds you like a very exciting week!!!

    • April 26, 2011 10:53 pm

      No, nothing changed except for my levels of tired and/or busy. It was all totally self-imposed. That’s a great point about external stimulus. After several failed relationships in college I finally learned that my happiness must NOT be connected to the behavior/feedback of another person. Same goes for teaching yoga! :-)
      P.S. It was exciting. I loved every minute.

  7. April 27, 2011 7:19 pm

    I really enjoyed reading this :D So, given this week, what is your thought on future planning/notes? I’ve taught a whole 4 classes so far and I’m still just a teacher baby figuring it out!

    • April 27, 2011 10:18 pm

      Thanks, Lorin! Aw, man, so many thoughts. First and foremost, I learned that pursuing a passion requires an adjustment period like anything else. That, just because you’re doing something you’re passionate about, doesn’t mean it’s going to feel magical and perfect right away (or all the time, for that matter). Also, teaching is hard on your body and practicing is thus even more essential (if that was possible!). Lastly, get a freaking alarm clock that works. Ha! :-)

    • April 27, 2011 10:20 pm

      And as far as notes go, I think there’s a happy medium between completely winging it and being anal about following a plan. So, my new goal is to have a plan and notes accessible to glance at but not be married to any plan – to let things just happen when it feels right. Are you a big notes person so far?

  8. May 1, 2011 9:05 pm

    Congrats! sounds like a crazy week! I used to plan my classes really carefully and then had several where students showed up and b/c of something I had to throw the whole thing out and start fresh. After a year of 6+ classes a week I rarely plan outside of theme, pose, idea, and often change the minute I suss out the students. Teach to the students and not the pose/class theme/planning is the best advice and you can’t go wrong.

    Kudos on rocking it all!

    • May 2, 2011 8:55 am

      Thanks, Nancy! That is GREAT advice – don’t make class something the students have to fit into. And yes, it was a totally crazy week. I work 25 hours a week to boot so needless to say I was spent by the weekend (and had no food and a dirty house – ha!). Much love xo

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