Thursday, December 11, 2008

That Dreaded FIRST CLASS Is Over

WOW. What an experience. Before the class last night, I felt like I was dipping my toes into a cold swimming pool - in... out... in... out... should I or shouldn't I...? ...Jump in or just hang out on the deck chair?

Then when I got to the studio, Uli told me "Aldi's coming too". My jaw dropped. Aldi's one of my teachers from the teacher training course. Kena Sabo (only the Singaporeans need to know what this means). Okaaaaaaay. No turning back now. And then Uli said "I'm going to practice rather than adjust. See what it feels like as a student in your class so I can give you feedback". Double Okaaaaaay. I'm just putting the mental brakes on the panic going on in my head at this point.

I had gone through my music playlist in iTunes over and over, choosing and re-choosing tracks, using the same playlist in my self-practice to see which songs work and which don't, just to keep the flow of the Ashtanga vinyasa sequence going. Of course my iPod mini is so old it starts to go funny (yes, it's oldskool. No touchscreen. Not even a colour screen!) I can't get back into the "Menu" page and I can't reset it anymore either. It's gone cuckoo.

So to avoid any music mishaps during the class, I cleverly decided to lug my entire laptop there in order to access my playlist. Of course its got a 2-pin power socket and there are only 3-pin adaptors at the studio. And my laptop probably couldn't last on battery power alone for the 1.5hr class. Or rather, I wasn't gonna chance it and screw up the vibe. Got to teach the class the traditional way - in silence; no music to help get me through this. Sigh.

To top it all off, the average class I've been to at Shanti either as a student or as an adjuster averages about 8 - 10 people; a nice cozy size. But of course the evening I am to teach my very first led class, a total of 16 (SIXTEEN!) people rock up. How to not feel like it's all a conspiracy?

So when Aldi shows up, I gave her a hug and whispered in her ear "PRESSURE!"... She hugged me back and replied "SUPPORT." How cool is that? It made me feel a whole lot better.

The class itself started off pretty well, but then I started to realize how much multi-tasking needs to go on during a class and how much energy this actually takes! Of course I knew this already, but having to focus your energy for 1.5 hours where you're able to call out poses, remember which actions happen on the inhale and which on the exhale, give concise instructions on technique, benefits, cautions AND variations while watching out for students with off-alignment AS WELL AS giving adjustments at the same time... and of course ensuring that my own posture when giving adjustments is also aligned otherwise it would just be a bad adjustment for the poor student and I could also hurt myself... AND THEN! On top of all this also being mindful of giving each student space to explore their own practice, body and spirituality... it was a lot to take in and at one point I was just going cross-eyed with it all. Not really sure when I was talking too much or too little, and just generally trying to gauge the vibe of the entire class at the same time as well as looking out for individuals.

...and THEN! That's when the first wave of insecurity hit me. I caught myself beating myself up - feeling like running away halfway through the class, thinking thoughts like "What am I doing here? What a fraud, I've got not enough experience to be doing this! RUN!" ...I had to catch myself and squash those thoughts before it started affecting the rest of the class too. It's part of my yoga process that I need to go through as well - practising Ahimsa, or non-violence, to myself, but I've never felt so inadequate and unsure of myself like I did at that point. All my fears were hitting me squarely in my face. (No wonder one of my most respected teachers told me she knelt down and cried in the middle of the first group class she'd ever taught coz she couldn't handle it!)

OK, at least I got through it fine. And I got great feedback from people afterwards. Uli said it was an awesome class and I really worked them hard (everyone was dripping wet, even me!) Aldi said she couldn't believe it was my first group class since the course coz of my confidence level (that's where being an ex-TV and Radio Presenter comes in handy!) One of the students turned out to be a Hatha teacher and after the class, she asked if I could substitute her yoga classes as well over the holidays. Yay! I'll take what I can get just for the experience! So let's see if that works out.

But a part of me also wonders how honest people are with their comments and how much of that is just them being nice and kind to a teacher just starting out? (oops, there I go again. Must be nicer to myself and not doubt so much!) I guess I'm still trying to gauge the vibe of the class - I want to give people enough info to explore deeper in their practice, but at the same time I don't want to go overboard and talk too much. (I hate being in a class as a student where all I can think of is telling the teacher to just shut up already! Yes, it's very unyogic I know) Maybe it's that ex-radio training too - you're taught not to leave dead space on the air, whereas in a yoga class sometimes the teacher does need to leave that space open/ silent for students to explore the pose in their own bodies. I need to be comfortable with the silence.

It was quite a rush teaching that class - of course there are still a million and one things going through my head at this point... I'm still processing how to become a better teacher. It feels like I've got all this info in my head, all the tools in the toolbox, but only with experience will I start to figure out what info to use when. Coz at this point I feel like I want to share EVERYTHING I know about each pose to the class, but that means everyone would have to hold each pose for at least 5 minutes while I ramble.

Good start, though! :)
P.S. Did I mention that Uli actually PAID me?! I so wasn't expecting it and it was such a nice bonus!

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