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Teaching yoga is a gift to me as much as it is a gift to others. I have transformed so much in this process. There’s no way I could have started teaching yoga without my own transformation. And because I’ve felt it, lived it, worked on it, sweat through it, fought with it, loved it, and released it… now I can support others as they go through their own process of transformation and healing. It is so unbelievably amazing to see others transforming on their paths and finding joy. To me, teaching yoga is a service to the folks on the mat as well as all of the lives and things that they touch when they are off of the mat. It truly goes beyond the classroom – teaching yoga is a service to the world!

I heard Sid say recently that teaching yoga is God’s work. What a powerful statement! And yet it is a statement that has really stuck with me and dug its way into my heart. It has not only impacted my teaching, but also my entire perspective on life. During yoga teacher training I didn’t quite know or understand what God was. It was a faraway and confusing concept that, whenever I tried to imagine it, just seemed to be a separate thing from me that I couldn’t quite grasp. I am now beginning to realize that God is consciousness, the spark of life, the vibration of love. Whenever I am conscious enough to see it, I am filled with an overwhelming sense of love that causes everything else to dim in comparison. The physical things and accomplishments that I’ve always viewed as “mine” become less important to me as I grow my understanding of how I fit into this new picture. It helps me to see that these things in life really aren’t about me … it’s no longer my yoga class, my house, my stuff, my achievements, or even my life. It is about being an instrument for the vibration of love to sing through. This is a place of freedom! I don’t look at yoga as a religious type of thing, but I do see it as a practice of growing love.  My teaching is simply a tool for showing people the way to discover that inside of themselves. Through this perspective, my ego backs way off. Whether  1 person or 100 people show up to my class becomes irrelevant. If I am an instrument for the vibration of love to sing through, then whoever wants to hear it will come.

I’ve grown a lot since teaching my first yoga class:

  • Creating a connected and safe environment is an important aspect of my teaching. Doing this gives others – wherever they are in their practice – the space and freedom to grow. I am especially growing my practice of speaking to everything in the room without hesitation.
  • Being present is, to me, the MOST important aspect of teaching yoga. I’ve seen and felt how a lack of presence resonates in a class. Everyone feels it. I have begun a ritual of setting my intentions and doing a short breathing exercise and meditation before class in order to align myself with the present moment. I speak to being present and dropping expectations of “what’s next” in all of my classes.
  • I teach what I know, not only in regard to the yoga practice itself, but also in the concepts and personal experiences that I share with the class. If something resonates with me and it is the right time to talk about it in class, I will share that. I enjoy sharing my own walk with others . I believe that the class appreciates it too.
  • I am growing myself as a teacher that fills the space with my presence. Being present is the first step. Getting out of the way so that the vibration of love shines through every word takes it to a new level. I’m also learning how to use more of my lower and middle lung to push my voice to fill the room. I’ve had to clear my throat a lot after class, which tells me that I’ve been using my throat for the most part.
  • The smiles that I see after class show me that I’ve left people to their own greatness and that each person has grown from his/her practice. I practice, what I call “Namaste” in each of my classes – remembering that the light inside of me honors the light inside of you.
  • I’ve come a long way with listening to how my words land with everyone. When I first began, I was nervous. Whenever I’m nervous, I tend to talk a lot. I had so much to say in my classes that I didn’t pause long enough to let what was said sink in with everyone. Now I feel much more comfortable in my teaching. I am conscious of how my words land in the bodies and hearts of the class. I pause, take a breath, and observe before speaking. No more diarrhea of the mouth!
  • I feel that my classes maintain an encouraging and empowering energy about them. Growing is a process of creating what you want, not beating yourself up over what you think you need to change. I speak to this in my classes and I feel that it resonates with those who listen.
  •  I am learning how to speak to what is missing without fearing that I’m being judgmental. I am beginning to see how necessary this is. I also see this as a way to get connected to each person in the class by showing them that you are paying attention. Most of the time (if not all of the time) people really appreciate that.
  • I am inspired by yoga and the transformations I’ve made in my life. Being the example and relating my own experiences has been my favorite practice as a yoga teacher. I feel that my teaching is inspirational to others – they want to take my class because I am practicing and learning exactly what is being taught in the class. I’m authentic in my actions and relatable in my words. When I first began this journey, I said that connecting and relating to others was a huge challenge for me. I gasp when I think of how far I’ve come since the day I said that!

Being the voice that supports others in finding their own paths to peace is no small task. Even so, I don’t feel like it is a burden. I have discovered a lightness to it that I didn’t have when I first began 200-hour teacher training. It feels good to be teaching yoga. It feels right. This is exactly where I need to be! I’m just so grateful that I found it. It has been a lot of work to get here, but it has been so worth it. I’m encouraged to see where the path will take me next. Many thanks to Sid and Lindsay from Sid Yoga Center for helping me find this wonderful gift. Thanks to my husband, Jeremy, for supporting me every single step of the way. I’ve been blessed by your voices, your work, and your kindness.

Namaste!

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First off, I have to say that I love assisting! I was unsure at first if I would get to this point since I was really nervous about doing it when I first began, however now I can see that my assists are really working for the people in my classes. I’ve received feedback that my assists bring the yoga practice to a “different level” by challenging each student to turn off their thoughts, and discover their inner strength to go beyond where they thought they could go. It is so satisfying to see the shifts taking place in their bodies! I feel a connection with them when that happens… almost as if the same shifts are taking place inside of me.

I feel that safety is the most important thing, so I go there first – speaking to the alignment from the ground up, and then applying physical assists (also from the ground up) to the students who may not in their optimal alignment. Just as important to this is my ability to be conscious of what is going on in my class. I find that it is a little more difficult to do this in a larger class, as it may be easy to miss something that someone is doing across the room. However, I have begun the practice of connecting in with each student as they come into the class – I ask where they are in their practice, if they’ve ever done yoga, how they’re feeling, etc. I’ve found this has helped me to bring my attention where it may be needed the most.

I am a very active assistor when I teach or assist in other people’s classes. I generally like being active anyway, rather than just standing around, and I also like to find ways to connect in with others in their practice. I use assisting to do just that. The most powerful feedback on my assists that I’ve received so far has been from Lindsay – she once told me to “do everything with purpose”. Now that I have been teaching and assisting, I can say that my assists have a purpose about them. I no longer feel like I’m experimenting anymore with what I’m doing… I don’t feel the hesitation of thought or questioning as I may have felt when I first began. Now I observe what needs to be done and then just DO it. And I do it with purpose.

How I assist others is a reflection of what is going on inside of me. I think that being grounded is probably the most important attribute to have before going into an assist. It goes back to safety. If I’m off-balance, I’m going to transfer that energy to those I’m assisting and he/she will fall out of the posture. Feeling grounded is sometimes a challenge for me. I work through it by setting my intentions, and doing meditation and breath work prior to class. I have also recently begun an ayurvedic practice in order to balance out my Pitta with a little (or a lot!) more Kapha. It has been a slow process; however I believe that it has been working out great so far!

This brings me to, what is for me, the most challenging assists: balancing posture assists. I truly believe that this is a reflection of me – perhaps I have some imbalances in my own life from which I am in the process of growing. I know that I tend to take on a lot of stuff – and I get very busy in the process. Finding ways to balance my own life — and all of the responsibilities that goes along with it – is a point of focus in my life right now. Before I go into my class, I drop all of that. I get present, and I practice feeling my feet planted on the ground, squeezing my toes into the mat and then releasing. I feel the rebound of the earth respond to my stance from the bottoms of my feet to the top of my head. Only then, when I get to the point where I feel connected with and grounded into the earth, I am able to assist others …especially the balancing postures.

This process of assisting yoga classes has been, and still is, a process of discovery. Assisting others is as much a journey of connecting in with others as it is an inner journey of self-discovery. I feel that I’m on a great path by continuing to assist yoga students the best way I know how! And I can tell that they are landing with them – I not only see it and feel it when I assist them, but I hear about it too. I can’t remember a class in recent months where I haven’t gotten positive feedback on my assists. I think that this is a good thing. I am happy to continue using the assists that I learned in the 200-hour teacher training to support others in their practice! Thanks go out to Sid and Lindsay from Sid Yoga Center for teaching me this wonderful and powerful gift!

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