Turns out my “day job” (higher ed administrator) is more helpful with teaching yoga than I originally thought.
“Huh, what is she talking about?…” you’re probably asking right about now. I know, I didn’t see it at first either.
Imagine these two scenarios:
- Scenario #1 — You work at a law school in student affairs and you’re heading into a 30-minute academic advising meeting with a first-year law student. You’re in a blissful mood, your morning was calm and peaceful, your email inbox is empty, and your only care in the world is making sure that the student you’re meeting with has a great experience.
- Scenario #2 — You work as a yoga teacher at a local studio and you’re heading into a 60-minute yoga class with 10 or so regular students. You’re in a blissful mood, your morning was calm and peaceful, your email inbox is empty, and your only care in the world is making sure that the students in your class have a great experience.
Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it is.
Real life is messy.
News flash! We’re humans and real life is messy, and that certainly doesn’t stop being true simply by virtue of “becoming a yoga teacher“! Even “the yoga teacher” struggles with bad moods, hectic mornings, an inbox filled with too many emails waiting for a response, and juggling too many things to do at one time.
Sure you can study yoga philosophy, but you’re not going to find yourself walking into the studio door in a zen-like mood unless you make a mindful effort to get yourself into centered ahead of time.
Yes, you can find center amidst the messiness of real life.
I swear, it’s possible. In fact, I’ve been practicing doing this at my day job for the past few years! Before each appointment with a student (and during the spring, it’s often upwards of 10+ student appointments per day), I pause and work through my 30-second pre-appointment ritual:
Take a slow, deep inhale and exhale.
Close my eyes and feel the world start to move more slowly.
Remind myself that while this may be my tenth time saying the same exact thing, this meeting will be this particular student’s first time hearing this information.
Remind myself how important it is that I remain present and engaged in my conversation with the student.
Remind myself that listening is just as important as talking.
Take a final slow, deep breath and walk out of my office to go introduce myself to the student.
Though it can feel as though I do not have a second to spare on jam-packed spring days, these mental pep talks are vital to bringing myself to a place where I am able to connect with students, deeply listen to their needs, offer them relevant information as a guide, and successfully do my job.
A case of the Mondays.
A few Mondays ago I had the opportunity to assist Michelle with teaching a yoga class (and yes, by “assist with teaching,” I mean fetch props, offer a few minor adjustments, and the like). It was an exciting (and nerve-wracking) first for me. Though I had observed a few classes, actually standing up, walking around the room, and engaging with students as “a teacher” (or teaching assistant, as the case may be) … that was new territory.
Plus, this particular Monday happened to have been a rough one for me. It was harried, busy, stressful, complicated … exactly the opposite of how I imagined my day leading up to “being the yoga teacher” would be! Fast forward to 5:30pm and suddenly I found myself inside the yoga studio, brain still going a million miles a minute, smile pasted on my face, trying to force myself to embody a blissful yoga teacher.
Wait a minute, something isn’t right here!
About 15 minutes into this slow-moving disaster, I realized something important: before I enter the yoga studio door, I need to take a moment and find center, just as I do before meetings at my day job. Only from center will I be able to teach from an authentic place, be present and engaged in the conversation between myself and the students, embrace connection, and listen to/notice what is going on with the students — and really, that’s what a good yoga class is all about.