Class is getting easier to lead. I kind of feel I am in the groove. People are coming every week. I have a couple regulars. I don’t know how to grab back the people that haven’t returned. There are two young ladies that were really excited that yoga was going to be offered. One of them came to the early – non-sanctioned classes and really liked it. She brought her friend with her to the group class and then neither of them have been back. I hear things like; I forgot my stretchy pants. While I know yoga isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I still want to fill the room every week.
Today was a good strong group. There were four of us this time. Three are new to yoga. I am their first yoga instructor. Ever. For me that means I will be doing a lot of talking, a lot of explaining the mechanics – left foot back, right foot back, square up your hips, describing where center of gravity should be, how to plant one’s feet for alignment, allow yourself to breathe into the posture.
It always surprises me that I can’t remember “arch” of one’s foot. As in, “Line up the heel of your front foot with the arch of your back foot.” For some reason the word “arch” escapes me. Another glitch in my instructions is requesting everyone walk their hands to their feet when I mean to say, walk your feet up to your hands. Having new students, I am finding that I am not doing my own yoga practice, I am guiding others in theirs.
This week I have a fresh sequence that includes several twists. With the new patrons I didn’t think to revert back to last week’s sequence. I was excited to bring in some fresh postures. Twists are great for loosening stagnant energies. Twists massage the internal organs. Twists help to dislodge pent up stress in our bodies. I was so pleased to incorporate some twists throughout today’s practice. Twists may not be good for first time yoga practitioners. But I give away the story there.
Class actually went very well. I was good at mirroring my left to their right. The twist were easy and understandable. We started our practice with regular cats and cows, rotating our hips back and forth. I then had everyone thread the needle, this is more a pose for releasing the shoulders and the back. There is a twist in it, but we focused on our shoulders. Then we moved into a Child’s Pose (Balasana) to relax, to feel our shoulders and open our back a little more. As we moved into our standing poses, starting with Half forward fold (Ardha Uttanasana), then forward fold -holding our elbows for deepening our posture, I had the group rock back and forth. I cue’d for grounding our feet, feeling our hips, back and hamstrings opening. We came up to Mountain Pose, Samasthiti and back to forward fold. We repeated full-fold, half-fold, Mountain Pose and Samasthiti. Then we went to Chair Pose (Utkatasana) returning to Samasthiti a couple times and then complete this with a twisted chair pose – once each side. I did not have the group hold this pose but for a breath each side, I could see this was the extent of their abilities today. We moved on to a Warrior Sequence. The Warrior went over well. Everyone seems to know Warrior II (Virabradrasana II). I spoke of hip placement and elongating the core with the inhale. We completed this sequence with Triangle pose (Utthita Trikonasana). Though to me this is not a twisting pose the opening of the core in this pose can feel dislodging to one’s gut and mid-core. Regardless, the class was moving along really well. I felt like a real yoga master.
Once we made it to the floor poses I was having the group twist into a Belly Twist with legs extended. It feels great on the back and hips. I feel this pose up into my shoulders, my pectorals as well. I heard sighs of release from the group. I knew I was reaching everyone. I was happy to be a part of this. We held our knees and made little circles to massage the lower back. I guided the group into Happy Baby pose and then we came to rest for Corpse Pose. Everything went just as I had sequenced it. The group was responsive and flowing. We were in the groove.
Later, it was later that afternoon that I received a chat asking, “Should I be feeling all jittery?” It was then that I realized I too was unable to calm myself or to focus on the project in front of me. I was feeling scattered and agitated for no known reason. My confidence came crashing down. Did I teach inappropriately? Did I do this? What am I to tell her, a newbie at that, about dislodging energy? What should I have done to get everyone back to the calm and focus that we look for after yoga practice? Did I sequence this right, or was the sequence even healthy? I’ve been doing yoga for a long time and even I felt the effects of this twisted session. I don’t think it’s just an advanced class sequence, I think it really did shake up people’s bodies.
My answer back, and the general e-mail I sent out said, “Thank you all for coming today. I appreciate being able to guide you in your yoga practice. I wish you all a wonderful weekend. We worked some powerful energy today so please drink lots of water and be kind to yourself this weekend. I look forward to seeing you all next week.” I refilled my own water and started drinking to calm down.
Here’s the thing, did I do something wrong? I admit, I’m a little panicked. Was the sequence too invigorating? What kind of damage does this create? I’m feel like I’m on shaky ground. I don’t get it. Is it the twists? It seems an obvious answer to me. I don’t have enough training here to know. I don’t have enough training to know that this would happen. I haven’t heard from anyone else. Yoga is meant to heal not create crazy. I am worried about my peeps. I had no idea yoga was this strong.
For future reference – this Friday Lunch Drop-In is meant as a quick, light-fare, lunchtime escape. I need to keep in mind that there may always be new people. I want to pull together two or three light sequences for the shoulders, the hips and the back and leave it at that. I am not some guru-yogini-master. Lunchtime yoga is not here to heal anyone. It is ginger-ale for whatever may afflict you. That’s it. I am a new instructor. Full stop. May we all just continue to breath.