Confession of a Yoga Teacher: A Story of Growth

A little background info

In the classes I offer (as well as in my own practice) I always guide at least 3 challenging yoga poses that are held as long as needed to get to our “edge”;
That place that seems to be so challenging that you feel the need to escape; That moment you think, that although it isn’t actual pain you’re feeling, perhaps just mental pain, you may break if you stay a breath longer.
But then…you DO.
You somehow dig deep inside and find something; your breath, or even the thought, “I CAN do this hard thing” and you find yourself able to be in the hard place just a little longer.
Where these yang style poses help sky rocket your endorphins & your heart rate for the obvious physical benefits, I love them even more for their mental & emotional benefits.
I always tell my students, “There is growth in challenge.”
There is much to be learned by being in uncomfortable places.
Think about it; when you are comfortable, and giving yourself what you want…are you getting what you need, what you’re searching for? Only you will know the answer to that, but in my experience, you learn & grow much more by being in the hard places.
.
This is what I teach almost every day in my classes, yet I had no idea that it had been a good, long while since I had actually stumbled upon a situation myself that needed this mental stamina. 
I have gone through my fair share of challenging places in my personal life, as has anyone. But when it comes to my career, things have always fallen into place, leaving me feeling (admittedly, a little over) confident.
This is all pretty fresh, so I’ll try and tell it as quickly as I can.

What happened & what a lot of yoga teachers won’t admit…

A few days ago I taught, 1000%, the worst class I have taught in my whole teaching career.
I have had numerous nightmares of completely botching a yoga class throughout my years of teaching. (It must be the people pleaser in me :p)
And I’ve also had real life mini-nightmare worthy experiences happen in some classes.
I have had my music die just as we are reaching the resting period (or savasana) of class.
I have even made the mistake of not downloading the music to my device, forcing me to teach a class in utter silence.
There was also a whole year or so that I had to teach a yoga class after going through traumatic events in personal relationships, but had to “check my shit at the door” so I could offer something I know to be essential; something I knew would lift me up as much as others.
And..I cringe typing this…
I have had people walk out of my class for whatever reason
(Thankfully only a few in my whole 3 years of teaching, and who knows why they left?
An emergency? Pain? Sickness? Me? I will never know, so I don’t hang onto it.)
Yet, this particular class was a lot worse for me.

Why this story matters

Is It just me, or does social media seem a little bit too perfect?
The pictures exuding bright, white tones.
(Are their homes REALLY that white with children all over their shit? I digress.)
The amazing & inspiring yogi moms with yogi children who all do yogi things like eat coconut cult (whatever that is) and kale.
(Because I have to force feed my kids zucchini over here.)
I don’t want to seem negative. I follow all of these kinds of people on my Instagram, and love scrolling through for inspiration. But on a bad day, I do find myself eye rolling in order to not give into the feeling of inadequacy I may feel if I allow myself to compare situations and pictures.
SO. This story matters, because I am offering some real vulnerability as a yoga teacher.
A yoga teacher.
Aren’t yoga teachers supposed to have their shit all figured out?
(That is what I thought during my first yoga class as a naive 19 year old searching for a toned yoga butt.)

Why This Happened

Like I said earlier. A few days ago I taught the worst yoga class in my yoga career.
But there is more to it.
I have been in sort of a mental funk.
Apparently having babies does that to one’s brain; shifts things a little 😛
I found myself in a bit of teaching rut after having my third baby last September.
I still enjoyed teaching, but was losing my stamina and passion.
Later, as I found my 2nd YTT and was able to connect more with a community of inspiring, like-minded individuals at
Schol Yoga in Salt Lake,
I discovered the reason my passion was lagging was because my practice was.
There are friends of yoga (things like homework and of course practicing)
And enemies of yoga (for me, these were doubt and attachment to how things were supposed to be)
Throughout this advanced training, I had found my place and my passion again.
I was so eager to teach, and confident (no…cocky) that what I was teaching is amazing, and so excited to get out and teach it.
But, like everything ebbs & flows, my practice did.
Due to the enemies of yoga, not minding my homework, self-study or my practice as much as I should have been, the last month has been rough. Lots of dark mental places.
I had a bad feeling about it, but still decided to co-teach with my teacher & mentor at Schol Yoga.
I knew I was off.
But I’ve done this multiple times; gone into teach and found myself able to “check my stuff at the door” and continue to teach a great class.
This time was different.

Finally…What actually happened.

I forgot to cue one side of a sequence. The whole left side was forgotten at one point! What?!
My cueing was bad.
I am so good at telling people how to get into poses!
{I learned under the two most brilliant teachers for my first YTT, especially when it comes to anatomy!
(Gina Caputo and Kathryn Budig)
I pride myself on being able to offer variations based upon what it feels like; what the body “should” be doing in a pose, and how to make it work for individual bodies.}
Yet, I still botched the whole thing up.
Forgot anatomical aspects that I usually always offer.
Somehow, after over 3 years of teaching I lost my confidence and let my mental rut win.
Even worse…this was all in front of a couple of my mentors and teachers who were practicing as I taught.
Afterwards we sat and spoke about it in order for me to grow from what happened.
Immediately after class my mentor told me not to beat myself up about it.
It’s just a yoga class after all.
(Hi, this is me clearly not being able to let it go ;))
He even had some positive things to say, but I’m human and of course it is so much easier to focus on the negative. (Why is this??)
I felt beat up, and embarrassed that things I know and teach so often was not portrayed.
My pride was shattered. My ego, bruised.
But, in reality. I had been feeling that way for a month during this mental rut of mine.

Here’s What I Did

I got home and instead of crying and hanging onto it, I realized that I needed this to happen.
I needed to completely screw up, so I could open my eyes and get past this teaching rut that lacked passion.
I felt my heart get heavy as I realized I had offered to sub the next morning for a very well-known, brilliant teacher in Utah.
It would have been so much easier to not show up.
But what were my options? Call in sick, leave 20+ people hanging? 
Then my thoughts came back to what I teach my students every class;
There is growth in challenge.
I decided to take this on as just that; a challenge.
A challenge to pick myself up back up and move forward.
After all, there was nowhere to go but up from here!
From that experience, I grew immediately. 
I could feel it.
And then, on my way to teach class the next morning, there was unforeseen, crazy traffic.
I was late to teach a class for the first time ever!
What was happening this week? 
I was still determined. I could do this.

The next class; Picking myself up. Moving forward.

I walked into a studio filled with yogis waiting eagerly on their mats.
These yogis were forgiving, but I could tell were also nervous to have a sub instead of their normal teacher.
I could tell they weren’t sure what to expect,
and the fact that I was 1 minute late wasn’t helping my case!
But, I taught with the mantra, “There is growth in challenge.”
I can do this, I can do this.
I can grow from what happened and still teach this thing I am so passionate about.
I couldn’t tell if anyone was enjoying what I was throwing down, but I kept going in the way I knew how. In the way I should have done the day before during my worst class ever.
And at the end of class, it was dark, and the music had ended as we finished our resting period. Everyone sat up and looked at me with glazed eyes and I could just hear waves of happy & appeased
“Thank you.”‘s
I was able to sit and talk and connect with these people in a way I hadn’t been able to before I hit my rock bottom, as a teacher.
I had a woman come up to me with tears in her eyes. It was more than what she thought she had needed in a yoga practice, she had said.
This is why I teach.
Not for the thank you’s or the “cookies” for teaching a good class, but for making a difference.
For helping, hopefully just one person realize what they are capable of.
Afterwards
I texted my husband
“How ironic. Last night was the worst class of my teaching career, and today may have been my best.”
And to that he said
“That isn’t irony. It is you reacting to stimuli.” 
(Leave it to my husband to be totally & completely obvious ;))
How TRUE.
We have negative situations happen to us.
Big or small.
We could choose to sit in it, which we should to a point, but we must move on.
Be there, in the challenge, for a breath longer, fall.
But then, pick yourself up and get back IN.
React to the challenge, rather than letting it consume you.
React, not by bowing out and giving up, but by proving to yourself you CAN do the hard things in order to find the GREAT things afterwards. 
<3
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