After spending two weeks in LA fulfilling a dream and doing Prana Flow yoga teaching with Shiva Rea, I thought I’d come home all fired up to teach kick-arse yoga classes.
Instead, getting out of my car on a dreary Monday evening in Dunedin to teach my one and only yoga class a week at The Dunedin Yoga Studio, I felt… irritated. Yup.
I dragged my feet up the stairs (all three flights – so worth the climb for yoga when you’re next in Dunedin).
And then I felt like a big fat Elvis-phony sitting behind the desk being all sparkly and shiny answering questions about my exciting LA adventure.
What the hell was wrong with me, I wondered?
I mean, isn’t this what I love to do? Isn’t this was I’ve aspired to? Wasn’t this teacher training meant to put me on the Super-Highway to Mega-Successful yoga teaching?
Apparently not. Not anymore anyway.
Although there was hope.
I stil retained a sense of excitement for the two workshops I had scheduled post-LA. I was stoked to travel down to Invercargill and talk about yoga for four hours to a packed church hall of eager students. Right up to the moment when it got to the class portion of the workshop.
That class portion was awful.
For me anyway.
The students loved it, even when it went far and beyond anything they’d ever done before. It worked it’s magic on them, for sure. But I felt like I was just calling out instructions for an exercise class. Something didn’t gel for me at all.
I could trace part of it to the way I now practice yoga.
See, I’ve always taught directly out of my own practice.
Whatever I was learning and exploring and understanding and seeing, I taught my students.
When I started, this was a Power Yoga sequence. Eventually it started to vary more and more as I learned other yoga, and once I started doing Prana Flow, it exploded out into all kinds of asana, mudra, pranayama, mantra and the like.
Now however, my own practice has taken yet another turn.
I don’t do a whole lot of asana, using a combination of mantra, pranayama, meditation, kriya, mudra. When I do practice asana, it’s very, very slowly, totally breath-led. Quite often, it doesn’t even look like anything you’ve ever seen in any yoga book.
Sometimes – although not always – I enter what is a sacred space, when it feels like I’m being led by a guiding force within. Call it Kundalini, call it the Goddess, call it what you will. My practice is my own personal dance with Shakti – and how on earth can I teach that to a class for of eager students?
I was hoping Shiva would be able to show me, because I suspected her own practice is totally Shakti-fied. And she did show me how it is possible to weave sahaja (spontaneous prana-guided yoga) into public asana classes. She also wowed me with her incredible skill at layering classes in such a way they become a total sensory experience designed to awaken each chakra in turn.
She’ll teach an Earth class that invokes grounding and stability through the music she chooses, the clothes she wears, the mantra, pranayama and mudra she teaches and the asana she leads. I suspect she’s been practicing and teaching for so long that she is able to do this with ease, no effort required.
Me however… I got exhausted just thinking about putting all of that together. Oh I can do it, as the heart-opening Awakening Your Sun Workshop class showed. But was no joy in it for me – I didn’t feel like I was authentically teaching from my well of grace when I did.
I finally had my break-through moment when I was watching some yoga classes on line – large classes led by rock-star teachers who’ve Seriously Made It.
Watching those classes, my body shuddered at the thought of teaching like that. Yep, shuddered. And that’s when I finally got it.
See, I’d been thinking that being the Best Yoga Teacher I could be meant being Like That. It was the model of teaching I was aspiring to, because it represented Doing Well and Being Successful.
But that kind of teaching ain’t who I am, and it’s not what I’ve got to offer. It finally all made sense.
There was nothing wrong with me. Just with the path I was attempting to follow.
Phew! What a relief!
I finished up teaching public yoga classes at the beginning of December in Dunedin, and I haven’t taught since. Knowing what I didn’t want gave me the space to open up into what I do want.
And what I do want is to work one-on-one with dedicated students using yoga as a tool for transformation.
This is the path I’ve walked, and it totally makes sense to me with my background, skills and intuition to teach in this way.
I’ll only be able to teach a handful of students in this manner, and that feels just perfect.
In fact, I’ve already got my first student, delivered to my doorstep before I’d even realised that was the perfect way for me to teach.
Ain’t the Universe wonderful?
And best of all, I still get to teach yoga. My way.