Confessions of a Yoga Teacher - Part 2

I had a great response to my first post about being a Yoga Teacher, so I wanted to share a few more secrets with you all…

1) I’ve farted in a yoga class.

We’ve all done this though…right?!

2) I’m honestly not as fit as you first think.

I joined the gym this weekend. Yesterday I went to Bodypump. Today it hurts to walk. Stairs are a struggle!

On the outside I come across as someone who’s pretty strong, flexible and who has good stamina. This is easy to act (and actually true) when doing a demo of a posture, but it’s a whole different story when you see me after a three hour up-hill hike. Yoga is wonderful for so many reasons, but before diving into the practice, I was also super sporty. Recently I feel like I’ve lost my cardio fitness and endurance so I’m making an effort to be a bit more active off my mat. Unfortunately, I lack a bit of self-discipline when it comes to physical hard work (I don’t think I’ve ever in my life held Chair Pose for longer than two breaths in my personal practice haha) so I have to go to group classes and rely on the instructor shouting at me for motivation.

3) I still have a slight no-pain-no-gain mentality.

This was drilled into me when I was young. I was a gymnast for many years and I was taught to push my body to its limit on a daily basis. The sad thing is, even today, I’m weirdly enjoying the pain from Bodypump because it convinces me I pushed hard and therefore my body will benefit. When I was at my peak physical fitness, if I didn’t wake up sore the next day, I’d feel like I’d not worked hard enough. This is one of the reasons yoga is so important to me - it’s taught me to be much more gentle with myself. There’s a difference between building strength, stamina and stability (mild temporary discomfort) and bullying your body!

4) To me, the little things are the best things.

I had a student who really struggled to close their eyes. Even when I was giving them a Savasana massage they had them open! Now, this same student manages to keep their eyes closed for the whole of Savasana and honestly, it makes my heart happy! There are many reasons people struggle to shut their eyes, so knowing that this person now feels comfortable and relaxed enough to do this is a big thing.

5) I try and influence you on a subconscious level.

You may or may not have noticed, but I try and give you extra subconscious cues through the tone of my voice. It’s not always what I say, it’s how I say it.

If I want you to do something softly, I speak calmly. If I want to motivate you or empower you through a posture, I use a more confident, energetic voice. If I’m encouraging you to squeeze an extra bit of energy out, then my voice will sound like I’m squeezing too so you feel like I’m sympathising with the discomfort or struggle. Sneaky, hey? I’ve learned that being able to control my voice and adapt it through classes is one of the most valuable skills I can have as a teacher. It means that I can build a much faster rapport with people in my class because I’m able to mirror the stages/emotions/physical sensations that they go through in a practice and it creates an atmosphere of team work.

6) I encourage questions - I don’t just say it to be polite.

I really like it when people ask me questions after class. To me, it shows someone is keen to further their knowledge and they’re paying attention to their practice. Ask me any yoga related question and I’ll help you as much as I can. Unfortunately though, I’m far from trained in any medical course and I’m not a therapist. I wish I knew how to help all of my students through their darkest times or medical conditions, but unfortunately, all I’m trained to do is teach you a (hopefully) awesome class that will get you out of your head for a little bit whilst encouraging you to tune into your body. I’m there for you 100% and love seeing you on your mat, but ultimately (and ethically) I can't guide you on how to handle your mental or physical health. That's the job of a professional.

7) Nobody looks happy when they practice yoga.

Our yoga faces aren’t usually smiley, zen, portrayals of how we feel on the inside. Often, as a teacher, I spend the majority of class looking at people who seemingly hate me or look like they’re really bored. I never take it personally because I look super moody when I’m practicing myself!

Anyway, I think that’s enough secrets for today. :)

Jess

x