When in China, try to chant like you know what you're doing, please! This photo is from a NYT photo collection of signs written in "Chinglish," all located in Shanghai, where my sister Sarah lives (and teaches yoga). Complete photo gallery here.
Ok, I'm going to be persistent: join the Lulu Bandha's Online Garden if, like me, you're a bit of a nerd about yoga! Or if you are new to the practice and have questions. There are also lots of new teachers joining and connecting with each other.
This was my biggest week of yoga teaching yet, with three classes. I am starting to feel limited if I bring in a written-out plan. My written plan is getting a BIT more skeletal, more general, to allow room for meeting who shows up and for just going with what feels most right in the moment. I still plan out a meticulous moment-by-moment game plan the night before but then inevitably say 'forget it,' when I get to class, to an extent anyway.
Tuesday Vinyasa Basics was an amazing challenge because there was quite a big group so a)it was hard to feel into a common energy level and b)my fear level was higher. I struggled with the nervousness about not being their usual beloved teacher. I am still practicing a lot as I teach, at least for these slightly faster-moving classes. I break away for small periods of time and try to push myself to stay away longer. I'm afraid of getting mixed up and not knowing what to say next. Ironically, though, I think actually watching the students more will help me know what to say. It's like letting go of my feet on one cliff and jumping and trusting that there will be another.
Thursday was a delight and a challenge in a completely different way. 2 students came, both on the same page, wanting to 'graduate' to a more challenging physical level after lots of Basics and Stiff White Guys classes. Neither wanted it to be too flowy, so I tried to meet that by holding things a little longer and tweaking and exploring, but I also heard a little voice saying not to obsess TOO much about trying to make them happy with the flowiness level. I just tried my best to offer what I felt would help put them in touch with That Yoga Feeling. We moved towards wheel pose, using Kira's hallelujah arms approach in the salutations. Then we did Bridge, then we played with Wheel a couple times. I showed pushing into it using the crease between the floor and the wall and tried to emphasize only going in if you're feeling relaxed about it. Success!
I'm starting to really look forward to the Yoga Crib! It's feeling real, and not very far away!
This is also posted on The Garden, a blossoming little online yoga community of people who love to talk about yoga endlessly. I am helping Kira host it. It's free and ad-free. We want to meet you.
I subbed again tonight for Winifred's Yoga for Recovery class. It was a good experience for me because the energy level of this class is all over the place. One time it was super low, and some beginners showed up. Then last week I came with a nice easy class and met a group of regular yogis who wanted "level 3." So this week I knew I couldn't count on anything. I prepared for any level but I spent most of my time prepping a more rigorous class, which paid off because 2 regular, athletic yogis showed up who requested something harder. It was FUN! I shook off some of my nervousness about messing up the vinyasas by just saying at the beginning, "Ok, we will work, but feel free to correct me if I say the wrong foot or something." That helped me feel more free to experiment and not worry about the salutations being perfect, by-the-book flows. One student had been cycling all day and wanted to stretch her quads so we really checked in low lunge several times and even held it for a couple minutes yin style. Also, I said "butt" finally. I felt stupid saying this before. Ha!
I'm finally starting to feel like a yoga teacher. The pieces are starting to come together and feel more natural. I love this job so far. I'm teaching this week on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 8:30 and am so happy about it. Come join me if you're in Ojai!
Sit (I went back to suggesting the setting of an intention, which I had dropped for a while)
Here I immediately deviated from my notes, which would have taken us to our backs for quite a while. Because they were both gung-ho for moving I felt like we should make the warm-up more vigorous.
Cat/Cow & wide hip circles
Twisting Eye of the Needle (arms threading, not legs)
Easy Side Plank with cat/cow between
Abdominal leg curls, 3 each leg
Plank to Baby Cobra
3 1/2 Salutes
Salute with High Crescent Lunge
(After the 1st lunge, did Dog. After the 2nd lunge, did plank to baby cobra to rocket cat to dog, then hop/step to uttanasana)
Salute with Warrior I, Set up arms and legs from there then dive into Twisting Lunge, then Low Lunge, no arms
(again, did the vinyasa after doing both sides, we did a locust, rocket cat, dog, hop/step forward)
In Tadasana, check in hallelujah, swamp monster, and then Urdvha Danurasana arms.
Salute with Warrior I and hallelujah arms, triangle, low lunge with urdhva danurasana arms
(vinyasa after both sides, including baby cobra, locust, big cobra, rocket cat,dog, hop/step forward)
Think I'm forgetting something because at some point we did a yin-style lunge
Final vinyasa was a bow pose followed by rocket cat and child's.
Pigeon or eye of the needle
Bicycle Crunches (they wanted vigorous :)
Slow Leg Lowering and lifting
Bridge with Wheel option. It's amazing what a certain choice of words can prompt. I said "take your favorite backbend," meaning either bridge or wheel. But one student said, "my favorite backbend? then i'll do this," and she went into camel. The remaining two of us followed shortly and so it really felt like 3 yogis practicing together, rather than a teacher-student thing. So beautiful.