Challenging My Self w/ Teaching Yoga
I am a yoga teacher. This past weekend I taught seven yoga classes. Nine if you include Thursday and three of them were on Saturday. By the end of the class I was a bit delirious; my mind blurred all three class sequences together and couldn’t even remember what we had done so far in the class. I did my best, no doubt, but I was definitely pushing my limits in a lot of ways. It felt great.
Since returning to the states I have been looking for as much work teaching yoga as I can find. Mostly this has amounted to substituting classes for other instructors that are busy or sick or whatever. I think its time to see how much I really like teaching yoga and to push my boundaries to be as flexible as possible.
Teaching Intense Yoga
I prefer teaching yoga at a high level of intensity in my yoga classes; I believe this lends itself to self-discovery and stress releases during the yoga class, especially in the integrative poses of inversions and savasana.
I am teaching all levels classes, which offers a particular set of challenges for an instructor, most notably making the stretches available to the vast majority of the room (sometimes it is inevitable that a stretch isn’t possible, especially with the elderly). So this requires explaining variations, giving people alternate stretches and being fully present in the room. Ideally, each person can spend the entire class finding their own personal focal areas to stretch. The outline comes from me.
Yoga was never meant to be really intense, but in today’s modern world I think we need the intensity. Yoga teachers have to structure their class to provide this, making teaching yoga at high-intensities taxing on the instructors. It helps to wake us up out of our delusions or the lies that we tell ourselves. It makes everything more real when you start to hit your limits. It helps us to realize our humanity.
Teaching Yin Yoga
Yin yoga has been particularly prominent in my practice and in the practice of the people at my studios. I really enjoy teaching yoga in the different yin and yang styles because it gives us an opportunity to balance our asana instruction between talking and stillness, intensity and softness, and helps to keep things dynamic. I wouldn’t like to always teach the exact same class; this is part of the reason I don’t practice Ashtanga or Bikram every day anymore.
Yin has been a sweet spot for me, because I do love silence when I teach. I am focused on creating stillness and meditation in each class for my students.
Appreciation for Yoga Instructors
Sometimes teaching yoga is a bit rough. The pay is not great. It is okay though. The amount of effort that the classes require is probably more than a lot of other jobs, but that also makes it extraordinarily rewarding. I don’t think I need too much appreciation beyond the normal appreciation of being paid enough to make a living, which I am hoping to be able to do at this point. But there is a special kind of respect reserved for yoga instructors in the area for many people, coupled with a disregard and skepticism of others. It is somewhat of a conundrum to be honest.
Since beginning to teach yoga, I’ve been extremely poor. I didn’t even make money for the first six months of teaching yoga. My trip to Asia was nothing short of a miracle and I wouldn’t be able to do a trip like that again. Making ends meet is difficult mostly because it is hard to find work, but I think that I have a good shot at filling up a weekly schedule with 12-15 classes, ideally. I am hoping that August is the month where I can make that happen!
No doubt the area is fairly saturated with yoga instructors because of the emphasis on fitness in California, but I think that differentiating myself from other teachers will be possible with my experience traveling and practicing yoga. I’ve also been teaching yoga for nearly two years now, which doesn’t hurt.
The Future of Teaching Yoga
Yoga is going to change drastically over the next 20 years, I would guess mostly in terms of customization and personalization. People want to feel personally attended to, personally connected to their instructors. We may very well see the rise of some very down to earth and high quality yoga teaching, but I really hope the emphasis on celebrity yoga fades away. Hopefully it will all be even more casual and playful in the next five years; I wouldn’t be surprised if we start to see Tai Chi and Qui Gong techniques start to emerge in the yoga rooms across the country. Only time will reveal which direction the art is taken in.
As for me, I am setting down some roots in Sacramento. I have just moved to Northern Oak park and am hoping to find another studio on top of East Wind Yoga and Asha Yoga that I am teaching yoga at a few times a week. Here’s to the future! (If you want to see when I teach, check out my schedule)