yoga teacher training: teaching my first class

The August weekend of teacher training was dedicated to practice teaching. When you hear people say how exhausting TT can be, this is the prime example of how physically demanding the process is. Our group of ten students were each expected to practice teach a 20 minute class. That means 200 extra minutes of asana practice on top of the two 90 minute vinyasa classes we would take each morning. I had missed a portion of the weekend due to a work obligation (that was just as demanding – running an event is like running a half marathon), but I was d.o.n.e when Sunday at 4PM hit. So when I was being encouraged to teach my first class ever within the upcoming week, I deliriously agreed.

For the next few days, I planned. I had to rework my class plan from what I had taught that TT weekend. Not everyone is ready for the trademark Nishkama step back from chair pose to crescent lunge. I opted for the K.I.S.S. method and went with simplicity with a new game plan ensuring our five components of a complete asana practice were included:

  • introduction with child’s pose -> tabletop -> thread the needle
  • some sun salutation As to warm up the body
  • my flow consisting of warrior 1 -> warrior 2 -> side angle -> reversed warrior
  • opportunity for an inversion (headstand, handstand, forearm balance, child’s pose, etc.)
  • balancing pose featuring tree pose
  • hip opener featuring half piegon pose
  • backbending with the option of bridge or wheel
  • shavasana

The plan was written in my TT journal. Armed with that and a crafted iTunes playlist, I arrived at the studio that Friday a bit after 5 o’clock. The next 40-some minutes would fly by as the room began to fill with familiar faces:

  • my dad (he’s back on his mat after some plantar fasciitis flare ups)
  • Nishkama teacher Stephanie and fellow TTs Amelia and Jeff (if I realized he was coming, I would have brought my bottle of champagne and asked him to bring his machete!)
  • social media friends KaseyJulie, Becca and Dean
  • and a bunch of the studio regulars that I’ve practiced next to for years

Suddenly, 5:45PM hit and it was time. Stephanie and Amelia joined me at the front of the room as they would be assisting the class. Stephanie welcomed everyone and introduced me to the seventeen people that would allow me to teach them yoga the next sixty minutes. The room was mine.

As the class started, I felt like any anxiety suffer would feel, but I was also excited. But strangely, the words started flowing out of my mouth as I opened the class. I encouraged the students to settle in and prepared them to have some fun – this was a Friday night Happy Hour class after all! The integration series into the sun salutations felt natural, and my students – even the beginners – seemed to be moving comfortably through the poses. Things continued on smoothly through my main flow, doing my best to give alignment tips for those various warrior poses. The class looked like they needed a break, so I offered child’s pose with an option for an inversion.

That’s when I looked at the clock for the first time. It was 6:05. I was only 20 minutes in but had rushed through my plan and was ahead of myself. I knew what was next: get them to balance, open their hips, make them back bend, close the class. But for a moment, my mind went blank on how to verbalize what I wanted to do. I must had been furrowing my eyebrows because Stephanie came to my side to help remind me of what I could do to add some filler around my original plan.

So when in doubt, throw in some oldies but goodies. Holding chair pose wasn’t my class’ favorite, but they seemed to appreciate the added goddess pose with an option of crow. I drew out getting into half piegon by asking the class to do a few three-legged dogs with an added opening of the hip. I fumbled through some transitions and could tell when my students looked at me like “where am I supposed to be?” But eventually, I was cuing the options for bridge or wheel and was overjoyed that a few people still had the energy to bust out some beautiful back bends.

As I put the class into shavasana, I put on an acoustic version of John Mayer’s Shadow Days and immediately started to cry. There’s something about the lyrics of that song that embody that exact moment in time:

“Now I’m right here, and I’m right now
And I’m open, knowing somehow
That my shadow days are over”

They weren’t tears of sadness by any means. Those tears stemmed from a place of pure joy and gratitude. Happiness to see a goal come to fruition. Thankfulness towards everyone that had made that moment a possibility. Towards those I have studied with, have practiced with, and whom have listen to me babble on about it.  I get overwhelmed again just thinking of how I felt in those last moments of my first class.

Comfortably seated on a bolster, I closed the class with the following quote:

 (image source)

And in that moment – in that studio after 60 minutes of every emotion possible – I was alive again.

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  1. Amanda @ Click. The Good News says:

    Congrats on your first class! Love that you had so many supporters there =)

    I’m so inspired that you are putting so much energy & thoughtfulness into teaching. Your students will really appreciate the efforts & you are filling up their souls as well as working their body 🙂

  2. Jess says:

    Ahhhh!!! I am SO SO SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!!!! I knew you’d kill it your first class out and you totally did my friend. I LOVE what this journey has taught you — that you are right where you’re meant to be my friend, in every possible way. xoxo

  3. jobo says:

    oh my Gosh, this brought tears to my eyes! So SO happy for you and wow, what an amazing, exhilarating and in a way, downright SCARY experience, but after, you must have felt utterly amazing. that is exactly how I felt after teaching my first barre n9ne class. It is incredibly rewarding, challenging, but most of all fueling a passion. You have found yours, and I really really REALLY hope I can take one of your classes one day!

  4. Mel says:

    Congrats on your own class, that is amazing! It was great to “meet” you sat AM! Looking forward to many more classes!

  5. Natasha says:

    Congratulations! It sounds like an absolutely amazing experience – and beautifully written, too. Nearly had me crying in the middle of a cafe… I hope you can keep that alive feeling with you as much as possible!

  6. Abigail says:

    You were amazing on Friday! I have heard that quote before, but when you read it at the end of class, it resonated with me and brings tears to my eyes again even now. Beautifully written blog, too, as usual… Congratulations!!

  7. mom says:

    So proud of your hard work coming to fruition! Love you and that you don’t give up! You get emotional, you get busy, you get working on the situation and then you beautifully finish with great success. I have witnessed this all your life and to think, She’s Amazing! …and in a small silly way…I was there.
    Hoping your turn in your progess continues and YOU are exactly where you want to be.
    Love baby, Mom

  8. Joe @ The Frolicking Fells says:

    What a great accomplishment! I really liked your description of the ending of the class, especially the way in which you incorporated the song lyrics. I hadn’t ever heard that song before–it’s awesome!

    I felt the same way after I finished my first 5K (except for the fact that I had a king-sized headache and felt too awful to cry). Working towards an end goal that makes one feel alive and seeing it become a real, actual reality is such a great and powerful thing.

  9. Susan says:

    Sorry I missed it, sounds like an awesome class!!! Though, I would have pouted and possibly been complaining silently with thread the needle. I can’t think of a pose I dislike more lol.

    Congratulations 🙂

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