by regular columnist Elissa Jordan, Adventures in Teaching
I’m feeling utterly dejected this morning. Getting out of bed – struggle. Getting to work – struggle. Talking to people – struggle. What’s got me so down?
While teaching last night one of my students remarked about what a difference there was between the Wednesday and Monday night classes. Wednesday, my class, on the night was six people. Monday, another teacher’s class, was overflowing.
No real judgement was made – good or bad – one of my regulars responded how happy she was to be in a smaller class, with room to move and more personalised attention.
At the time I let it slide. My job was to teach the best class possible, whether to one student or one hundred. But when I got home, I allowed myself to get sucked into the story behind this off the cuff comment. I allowed myself to be convinced it was a very personal affront and a reflection on me, not only as a yoga teacher, but as a person.
Because my class on Wednesday was smaller than another teacher’s class on a Monday, I was a bad teacher, a bad person and I was wanting to crawl into a deep, dark hole and never return.
A bit dramatic? Maybe.
However, it’s what happened.
My extreme reaction was to a story I devised in my head, not to the individual who made the comment or the reality behind the comment. And this story I created in my mind, was nothing more than my ego getting the better of me.
When I step back and look at it all rationally I see that Monday, at the start of the week, where people are renewing a promise to themselves to get back to their yoga – and these people turn out in bigger numbers.
I see the two classes available on the Wednesday where students can go along to a lunch class or a class later in the evening. Resulting in both classes being thinner than the Monday.
I also see my Saturday class at the same studio. A class that is typically full to bursting. And I see the fallacy.
Most importantly, I see how the size of my class or any comments made about it has no reflection on who I am.
Your trigger as a yoga teacher, that tendency towards collapse and despair might not be comparison. It might be something entirely different. However, when you sense yourself being triggered, especially if this happens when you’re teaching or about to teach, acknowledge the trigger and then put it to the side. Remind yourself that you have a job to do. When you’re being of service to your students, it’s not about you, it’s about them.
After the class, on your own time, revisit these triggers. Sit with them. Contemplate, meditate, write. Look at these things for what they are, rather than allow these triggers to destroy you.
For me, it was only after a solid yoga practice, a deep soak in the tub with a glass of wine and a bit of chocolate and time spent in contemplative writing that I was able to let go of this story that had gotten me so shaken.
I’ve talked to a few other teachers and they’ve shared similar stories of being rattled by something that’s happened to trigger them as part of their teaching. If it’s ever happened to you, take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone.
This is just part of the on-going process of yoga, and yoga teaching. With mindfulness, you can become more and more astute at recognising your triggers, and working with them to release the underlying issues. In this way, your yoga teaching becomes your yoga practice.