Regaining My Teaching Legs

As you probably know, my studio of over six years, Bliss Flow Yoga, closed unexpectedly on July 4th, 2019.  The only notice we received was a single email from the owner letting the whole Bliss Flow community know that their yoga home was gone.  I’m still dealing with feelings of betrayal and sadness that remain, but more than that I was left with a massive amount of doubt.  Nothing throws uncertainty into your mind about your abilities than being laid off. Thankfully, I was able to secure a teaching spot at another studio. Not everyone I know was so lucky.  I have never had a lot of self-confidence. Growing up, I always felt like I was less than the other people around me.  This led to feelings of depression and sadness. Not surprisingly, that is where my yoga journey began.

calm daylight evening grass
an un-examined life is not worth living

I believe all good teachers go through a period of doubt about their abilities. I would absolutely hate to be so confident in my teaching ability that I lost the butterflies in my tummy when I step in front of a class.  Yes… I still get them … Every Time.  What I wasn’t prepared for is the doubt that would continue to plague me for another month – even after being hired on in another space.
When I was hired at EarthView Yoga, it was explained to me that I taught in a different style than most of the teachers that taught there.  That was part of the draw of my classes – they were different.  Even with this in the back of my mind I still felt the need to conform, to fit in with my new community.  The space itself was very similar, but it still seemed much different from my old studio.  First, they had a LOT more electronics than I was accustomed. The blinds could be lowered for savasana, the lighting could be bright or super mellow, your playlist could be connected via bluetooth, and most of the teachers used a mic (something I had never attempted).  Second, it was much bigger space – brighter – quieter.  Not bad, but different enough I was intimidated.
I tried lowering the blinds for Savasana like the other teachers. I tried different music that wasn’t so loud or out of the norm. I tried everything I could think of to make my classes just exactly like they were at Bliss while conforming to my new community.  It took me several classes and one student literally walking out of my class, for me to re-evaluate my methods. I won’t lie, I cried a lot that day. Partly because it was near the anniversary of my dad’s death, but also because I doubted my ability to be a good teacher. What if I lost my mojo when I lost my teaching space?

rectangular gray photo frame
Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I finally had an epiphany.  I didn’t need to teach to my new space or conform to anyone else’s ideal of how yoga should be taught . People didn’t show up to my classes at Bliss because I was just like everybody else. I didn’t grow my classes teaching from a script. What I really needed was to teach from my heart. I started to realize that was the one and only place I was going to find the answers for my new teaching practice.

Look at all those happy f-s flying away
Look at all those happy f-s flying away

I won’t lie and say that I am back to my former self. I won’t tell you that I’ve completely found my teaching mojo.  I can’t say that my small classes aren’t disappointing in some ways. But I have begun to see regulars showing up each class. I have people that I am actually reaching with my teaching style. That is where I will find my focus and regain my confidence.

A book that I have really connected to lately is “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass. (or as I like to refer to it… the super awkward book that won’t fit on a shelf)  One of the ideas that has kept coming back to me is the idea of chopping wood and carrying water.  The very act of service, of doing what you are supposed to be doing reminds me that I am right where I need to be on my journey.

by diane sing