I never planned on being a yoga teacher
In 2006, after five years of practising various styles of yoga, I decided to sign up for in a 100 hour Yoga Immersion. This was a big commitment. We had two preschoolers, I taught at a Montessori School, I owned a boutique aromatherapy business, and my husband who was working in NYC was only home on the weekends.
Needless to say, I friggin’ loved the training! I loved diggin’ deeper into the philosophy, the biomechanics, the physiology, and most of all I loved the connection with other students. I loved the conversations, the community and yes, I loved how my body felt. I was ecstatic about how the training filled me up. With the encouragement of my hubby I decided to continue with the next 100 hours to complete the RYT200 hour Teaching Training Certificate - let’s be clear though, NOT TO TEACH! I was not doing the training to teach yoga. It was a personal journey: I was enjoying the process, and I found in filling myself up with yoga I had the ability to give so much more to everything else in my life.
These days, my practice still fills me up in a way that helps me be optimistic about the world. Most mornings I read something “yoga related” before mediation. Often I will pick up one of my old notebooks from the many teacher trainings and workshops over the past 12 years. There is such pleasure in this early morning pursuit of embracing the teachings. I love to reflect on what I was hearing and recording back then, and what the teachings may mean to me now after so many years of soaking in diverse dialogue.
After reading through notes from a weekend with Professor Douglas Brooks in November 2006 (How’s this gem: “The gift of kundalini is dancing with your own nature. Keep asking questions and let the conversation continue… Tell your own story.”) I was amused to discover a Class Plan for the first public class that I taught at a yoga studio; it was a cover for my teacher and good friend Sue Elkind at Yogaphoria in New Hope, New Jersey, USA in December 2006. Did I mention I wasn’t planning on teaching? Well, Sue apparently had another plan.
It was a Sunday morning class, probably the most popular class on the schedule (Sue’s classes are still like that). I remember how much care and attention I took in thinking about how the class would run. We had been on Cape Cod with family for Thanksgiving. We loved everything about being by the ocean, and my hubby had been out sailing with his uncle. I was enchanted by the grace and power of the boats as they came alive in the wind, the freedom once they found the right balance. I talked with Brian about the similarities for me in finding stability to help create that freedom to expand in my yoga. I practiced the class sequence watching waves, feeling the turbulence and opening up to breath. I visualized the class unfolding.
I arrived to teach the class early too early. I remember being overly concerned about the students’ disappointment that Sue was not there, and generally talking way too much. However, once I started chanting I don’t remember much else, except for looking for approval during class from Donna-Marie and Suzanne (regular students of Sue’s) who faces were filled with encouragement.
What I do remember was the deep feeling of joy I felt finishing that class. I did it! It felt good. It felt like a monumental achievement. And the amazing support of the students was incredible. Nothing but LOVE. So much positivity.
I am absolutely sure there was so much that could have been improved upon, so many things folks could have corrected or complained about that first class. I was a brand new teacher! No one is good when they first start… according to Malcolm Gladwell you need something like 10,000 hours to start to get good at anything, and then you still need practice. Well, that support, that LOVE from that first class was exactly what propelled me forward to share my passion for yoga with others. To be brave. To step outside my comfort zone. To be OK being me, authentically big-hearted. To organically share what I see in the world and what I feel in my practice. To be perfectly imperfect. To be grateful to be part of a beautiful community that believed in me, before I believed in me. AND, I actually starting teaching yoga at my local gym that January.
I have the deepest gratitude to my teachers Sue Elkind and Naime Jezzeny for believing in me, for pushing me towards opportunities that allowed me to see my potential. And the biggest love and appreciation to Donna-Marie Emmi, Suzanne Svizeny and the other Yogaphoria students for lifting me up, for filling the studio with LOVE, for helping each other over the years to grow and prosper - to become stronger together. This community is still very dear to my heart and I was humbled to see so many familiar faces still beaming with encouragement when I visited the USA this past July. This is why I believe in the magic of yoga and community to lift us up, to propel us towards our next opportunity.
My journey is intimately woven with yoga and community that continues to challenge and delight. Brian reminded me of a quote we heard in 2015 while we talking about whether to leave our beloved community in the USA in search of new opportunities...
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
P.S. Just in case you’re interested, here’s that class plan… and I would still use it, just sayin’
THEME: SAIL AWAY
Open, full, finding optimal alignment
Solid, stable but allowing for natural movement
Lulling motion of the boat on water, powerful and soothing
Set foundation in Table
Cat / Cow
Down Dog, stretching each leg back
Uttanasana, twist with arms
Urdva Hastana, stretching up to shoulder openers
Tadasana, close eyes visualize grounding past
3 x Sun Salutations
Utthita Parsvakonasana, moving to a open twist
Trikonasana, moving to Ardha Chandrasana
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Ustrasana, flow open to each side
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, moving to Urdva Dhanurasana