I Teach You. You Inspire Me.
Some days, I'm tired. Some days, I'm dealing with a lot of personal stuff where it would be much easier to just not have to deal with anyone, or do anything. Some days- most days actually, I am on the go from before sunrise to sunset. Some days, I don't want to teach, to be honest. And not to mention, the thoughts of self-doubt that are often on replay in my mind. But, then there's always the same thoughts that swirl around my head that push me to continue. Why do I teach? For you...
I can tell you that there have been so many instances where students have come to me, or answered on a survey, or posted about my class where I just felt so uplifted and felt like this is what I am made to do with my life. I always wanted to help others, to inspire others, and to make people happy. I feel like I play this part as a yoga teacher, and if not for all students, then at least a few. I know my style or personality might not be a perfect match for everyone. I know I've taken classes taught by instructors where they weren't really doing anything wrong, but I just didn't fall in love with their classes. It's always nice though to hear that my classes, flow, and personality do resonate with some people.
In this blog post, I'm going to share with you some of the most meaningful stories and comments that have really made an impact on me as a yoga teacher. I hope that you will find some of the similar benefits and good feelings as the ones I am going to share. I do want to encourage you that if you don't find these benefits in my classes and from me, then keep looking so you can find these feelings and benefits from another teacher.
I feel empowered when I stay consistent and see progress within myself
I taught a small group of mostly older (than me) adults during their lunch break at work. Some of them did not regularly exercise, and none of them had learned to love yoga before my classes. We started off slow- I taught them the basic poses and we flowed a few times. That slowly worked its way up to a regular Vinyasa-style class. I was proud of all of their progress, and I loved hearing things like: "I can do Up Dog with my knees lifted!" meaning that she was able to let her knees hover off the mat, which is very challenging for one of the most basic poses, in my opinion.
That class also had an older lady who said that she was able to touch her toes now! I think we all know how challenging reaching your toes is, unless you have been practicing your flexibility for awhile.
Yoga is the perfect break from reality; it's just what I need
I love talking with my students before and after class to learn more about them, their lives, and try to consider what makes them love yoga and what they need out of it. This one student I have has a pretty chaotic schedule. I can definitely relate to this. This is why I am happy to see her come to class each time because I know how desperately she needs yoga (I mean, doesn't everyone?).
She commutes a lot for work, works long hours, travels to see friends, looks after her family and pets- I mean, talk about busy. I'm sure while she's in class, she's thinking of what her schedule will be like for the day ahead or how tired she might be from the night before. But, she shows up to class, and I couldn't be happier. Not for myself necessarily, but that she is choosing to take the time to do something for herself, which is what I encourage others to do as well.
After one class, we were chatting as usual and she was telling me about her life. Before leaving, she told me, "Thank you for class. This was perfect, it's just what I needed." And, I could feel how genuine she was saying that, and I could relate because I have been there before and felt so grateful for my yoga teachers and classes that have helped me relax and clear my mind- even if it's just for an hour.
I feel great when I practice
I have this one student that reminds me of my dad, which also helps me show empathy towards him. This man came to one of my regular Vinyasa classes at the local gym for the first time ever. He did not know what to expect, and he needed lots of modifications. I thought the senior yoga would be more of his style and encouraged him to attend that class later in the week. I didn't think he got much benefit from the Vinyasa class, and wanted him to feel empowered from class- not confused and awkward.
Well, he did come to the senior yoga class, and it was a much better fit! The next time I saw him after that, he was excitedly sharing with me how great and loose he felt the whole day that he practiced senior yoga! I was so happy because I was very nervous that his first experience with my traditional yoga class would scare him away from it entirely! This is just proof that even if you don't have a great first experience, or you don't like your teacher's style, you can always give yoga another try and hopefully you will find the best fit for yourself.
Time for myself
I had a lady come to class one time- late. She looked embarrassed to be late and her face read, "I'm sorry." I just smiled at her and kept on teaching class, glad that she was able to come. Not only did she show up, but she also brought her young baby in the stroller. The baby was very quiet and content, but every now and then she'd start to get a little fussy. That's when the mom had the same look on her face that she had when she showed up late to class as she tried to quiet the baby. I just smiled again, and I thought to myself, "Wow. Good for that mama. She could be making a million excuses for not coming to class today, but here she is."
If you've ever been to my classes, you know how much I emphasize taking time for yourself. We often live so much for other people, and I can only imagine how that must be as a mom. I feel especially admirable to the mothers who take time for themselves and do something healthy for their bodies and minds. I feel like this would be essential as a mother, and being the main person another life is dependent upon.
After class, I introduced myself to her, and she apologized for being late. I told her that I thought it was so great that she came to class. She said this was the first physical activity she's really done since having the baby, and I felt honored and even more proud of her. I was proud that she took the time for herself, as I have learned through listening to other parents that this is a challenging and taboo-like thing to do. I hope everyone would let go of their responsibilities for just one hour and do something good for themselves.
I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive difference in your life
I see people coming in for the first time that are skeptical and nervous. I see people who look flustered and busy. I hear people and know that they have long days filled with work and all the stresses involved with that, taking care of their kids, traffic, medical conditions or past injuries, and aging. I think of myself and know that I've made hundreds of excuses for not attending classes before, as a student. I've been a student where I had to rush immediately after class to get to everything else on my to-do list. I've been a student where I had so many worries on my mind, that if I focused on them for too long, it might result in bawling my eyes out.
I know that I'm not the only one and tons of people go through what I go through and even more. I am filled with another shot of inspiration and sense of purpose after I hear the peaceful exhales and see the relaxed looks on people's faces after savasana at the end of class. I teach to help people, even if it's just one person, feel a little bit better- about themselves, others, their current situations, and life.
I know how meaningful and life-changing yoga can be/has been for me, and that's why I teach. It has had such a strong impact in my life, and I hope that I can pass that along to others. Maybe not everyone, but for some. And maybe not forever, but at least for an hour.