Today marks exactly 6 months since I taught my first ever yoga class. It is also almost a year since I left my PR & Marketing business to embark on an exciting, rollercoaster adventure. Since that very first, nerve wracking class, I have taught 118 different classes, to a huge range of people, and every time I have learned something new.
Today seemed like the perfect opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate some of the things that I have learned. We are so quick to gloss over our achievements and move swiftly on to the next challenge, and while I do believe it is important to keep pushing forwards and allowing ourselves to evolve - I also think that we should give ourselves a little credit when it is due.
In truth, if I had known how tricky this year was going to be, I may not have been so bold in my decision to leave a stable and steady income from my previous business. I don't regret it for a second but if someone had explained how hard things would feel at times I may not have had the courage to walk away.
5 open and honest things I have learned since teaching yoga...
- You have to put yourself first. Teaching is energetically draining, especially when you try and give 100% all the time. There was one time when I felt so exhausted I didn't know how I was going to get through the class. I dug deep and I delivered - but it didn't make me feel good because I couldn't give my all. That day I acknowledged that I HAD to take time to replenish my energy levels and that means often taking a whole day to lie on the sofa, eat chocolate and watch films. Accepting that was a steep learning curve but one I duly noted and now it means I can ensure I teach my classes with a 'full cup'. It is like the oxygen mask on the plane analogy... if you don't help yourself first you cannot help others.
- Your gut instincts are always right. Sometimes things 'on paper' look enticing and 'should' be amazing - but when your intuition tells you that it isn't quite right - it generally isn't wrong! At times I have been driven by the fear of not earning enough money as a teacher and done things that have gone against my gut instincts. It never feels good and it drains you of your passion very quickly. That feeling is not worth any money in the world to me and although sometimes decisions are tough to make - I haven't regretted following my intuition once. I now check in with my gut as well as my mind before making any decisions.
- You have to get super comfortable with uncertainty. Being a teacher and relying on other people, can be a bit of a rollercoaster. People have busy schedules, they have their own lives and let's face it, a yoga class is not always at the top of their priorities. Some days a class will be full to bursting, another day not a soul will book in. It isn't personal. It isn't because I am not a good teacher. It is life - and sometimes that gets in the way for people. I can't spend my whole time worrying about whether people will show up - I have to trust that whatever happens, happens, and I will learn from the experience no matter what.
- Your own practice takes on a whole new meaning. Like many others, I became a yoga teacher because I adored going to classes and moving my body through asana (the physical postures in yoga). Now I practice for a completely different reason. Sometimes it is to work through flows I have designed for classes. Sometimes it is to work on postures in order to demonstrate them effectively. But for the most part - my practice consists of finding stillness and a time to reconnect with my body through breath and gentle movement, through being outside and finding what feels good for my body in that moment. At first I was upset that my practice had changed, now I know that it has gone far beyond just being a form of exercise, or stretching. It helps me face things that can be very uncomfortable at times, but yet are contributing to my growth in such a major way.
- Your body is your greatest teacher. Since I started teaching and 'using' my body as my business - I have become so aware of injury and how that could impact my income. To the point that I actually feared getting on the mat myself at times incase I hurt myself and couldn't teach. I have learned that I HAVE to pad my knees when I am teaching because otherwise they hurt, I have learned that I cannot spend lots of time in certain poses because it isn't good for my body. I have learned that being hypermobile might look great in photos but actually weakens my body rather than strengthens it. My body has taught me so many things that I can now bring into my classes - I am so grateful for that even though it has been challenging to face.
Communication is at the heart
Having got on that plane to Costa Rica with the intention of 'just doing my teacher training for me', I very quickly realised that what I was learning about, and had been learning for the past few years, was the most incredible communication tool and the perfect way to bring about wellness in people through their own communication with their own body!
Our body is communicating with us ALL OF THE TIME! Every second of every day, but we have all stopped listening to it.
When I teach yoga people notice their body. They realise where they are stiff or tight, and they see their strengths and weaknesses. They HAVE to communicate with their body on the yoga mat in order to work through their asana practice. They HAVE to listen to their limits and they have to work with what the body gives them there and then.
And awareness is the most powerful tool to growth. Being aware of an area that needs work, or aware of a super power you hold, is how you can truly evolve and progress,
What an incredible 6 months it has been! Here is to the next 118 classes... and beyond!
PS... check out my YouTube channel for some simple videos you can do at home in around 15 minutes!