Yoga Teaching : A dream I cherished, and then when I had to do it

For quite some time now, I have had this ambition (or maybe a desire is a better word) to become a yoga teacher.

I have written earlier about how yoga seems to be the only physical activity I was decent at. Even in college, when I had not even learnt yoga, people commented that I had a fairly flexible body and would make a good yoga teacher. I felt good listening to the compliment, but after I started learning yoga, I realized that even a natural flexibility does not take you very far in yoga. It is about constant practice and endeavor.

In the last year, the desire to be a yoga teacher has been very great. More than the desire to do this, I guess it is the desire to do something ‘alternate’. I dont hate my job, but I really feel that I want a job which can be left behind as a job, and which does not follow me around in my head 24 hours. I guess this is just a phase. Balancing an intellectually challenging job, along with motherhood, which is physically, emotionally and intellectually challenging, has brought it on. But still, I really wanted to do this.

Recently, I got an opportunity to become one, at least for some time. My teacher was going away for a week, and as her senior most student, requested me to take class for a week. I was not going to be a teacher, but more of a class leader, deciding and leading other students through the order of asanas for the day. I had substituted for her at times in the past, but this was the first time I had to do it for one week, continuously.

What did i feel? To be honest, my first emotion was irritation. Being a teacher meant I didnt have the flexibility to bunk or go late to class. I would have to be there and I would have to be on time everyday. The thought reallly daunted me.

What is more I will have to prepare for the class everyday. I was not going to teach anybody new asanas, but at least I had to prepare a logical flow of asanas, which would give everybody satisfaction.Actually, I never got round to doing this. I would do some hasty preparation just as I walked to class, and hope I could go with the flow. But I was constantly watching the clock, hoping that the one hour would go fast, and I would find something to engage them with for the entire one hour. And, as usual, obeying Murphy’s laws, time moved really slowly.

The third point was that by now I was a fairly advanced student in class,and whenever the class did some asanas, I would do the more advanced variant of those. I was practically the only one doing it, and as long as I remained a student, I could continue doing these things which gave me a kick. But as the instructor/leader, I had to take the class through asanas, which meant I had to go through the more easy asanas which most people could acheive. I was not in a position to supervise them to try the more advanced variant, and considering that a lot of the students were middle aged or older, I could not really risk asking them to try it out for fear that there may be an injury.

All this made sure that I was fairly grumpy at the prospect of teaching. Another issue was that this class was not mine. I had not nurtured it, I was at most mimicking the teacher. So obviously many students also took a break, when they realized that the teacher was not around. There were just four or five students who remained regular. I think a couple of them made an extra effort to be regular, because I was making the effort to come and lead the class. I appreciated them for it, but it was a hit on the ego to realize that some people chose not to come to my classes.

One day, sometime during the middle of the week, there was a movie screening arranged on campus and a lot of the students did not turn up to class, assuming that the class had been cancelled. But I was there, regularly, as a teacher should be. And a couple of students did turn up, and we had our class. The next day, one of the other students said she did not come, because she assumed the class was cancelled.

I think that was when the true import of being a teacher hit me. A teacher has to come to class and has to be prepared for a class no matter if she has one student or a hundred. I have written earlier about how my husband becoming an academician has allowed me to see the life of a teacher up close and my respect for them has gone up much more. My own experience as a teacher, in a widely different field, further reinforced my respect.

So, do I still want to be a yoga teacher? Yes, I still do. I may have been irritated with this experience, but a lot of it has nothing to do with teaching yoga, but other stuff about the class. I dont know if I will follow up on this, but it is a nice dream to have.

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2 thoughts on “Yoga Teaching : A dream I cherished, and then when I had to do it

  1. yogibattle says:

    Great story! What I respect about you is you were willing to put away your own practice of doing more advanced variants to the more basic students. Teaching yoga is very difficult and to do it right takes lots of preparation. You learned the crux of what teaching yoga is all about in this entry. Please don’t become one of these teachers who want to teach for a living. That will ruin everything. Teach because you want to transmit what you’ve learned to help people. That will bring many more fruits.

    • divyasarma says:

      Thanks!! I doubt if I will do it for a living. I may expect some remuneration for it, if I do it more regularly, but it will always be something I do, because I feel like it.

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