Sunday, February 26, 2017

And Then I Started Teaching Yoga

I had a professor in college who, if you were in a meeting with the organization she led, just a-brainstorming away and then raised your hand to contribute your idea, would say to you, "That sounds great!  That is a good idea for this reason and this reason and this one, too.  You are now in charge of making that idea happen.  I will check back with you next week to see what progress you have made."  And you would blink back at her and realize that you were now actually being forced to do something with your ideas, for once, rather than just yap-yap-yapping away, which really is exactly what college kids need.  This is one of the many things that make her a terrific professor but also make raising your hand in her presence slightly terrifying.

I'm thinking of this because last summer, when I interviewed for my job at the library, the director and I were discussing the current programs at the library along with potential future programming.  She mentioned the possibility of yoga.  I told her that I love yoga!

Six months later I was teaching a yoga class.


The circumstances were a trifle different this time, as I was first asked if I'd like to lead a yoga class, plus I'm teaching alongside one of my co-workers.

Teaching yoga has been... interesting.  Wonderful and delightful, but also interesting.  In the past I've pretty much done whatever the heck I want to do when practicing yoga.  Tight hips?  I think I'll do 45 straight minutes of hip-openers.  Tree pose getting a little boring?  Then I'll just practice dancer pose forever and ever amen just because I love it so much.

Well.  You can't do that when you have a dozen people staring at you, waiting to tell you what to do next.  Especially when you're trying to keep the knee problems of one, the back problems of another, and the hip replacements of the third in mind.  I don't exactly tailor my sequences to the needs of our participants, but you have to keep the ability level of the people you're working with in mind.  45 straight minutes of hip openers and no one will come back, unless you're me, of course.  So when I'm in Warrior II and would normally hold it for another ten breaths but can see that half the class is dying, I only make them hold it for another two.  Two and not one because sometimes you have to be a little bit mean.  I speak out of a place of love, of course.  (Or do I?)


As for co-teaching, here me now:  If you are ever asked to teach a yoga class (because take it from me, this does happen, apparently), and you have a chance to teach it alongside another person, DO IT.  Yes, teaching is rewarding and you get to choose what you're doing and how to lead the class, but what's even better than all that is leading four or five poses and then getting to just follow along for the next few- sure, demonstrating all those poses for your peeps, but also listening to Suzy's voice as she tells you to let your shoulders slump over your knees, or to twist just a bit further, or to hold that foot stretch longer than you ever would on your own, because she is flexible and strong in ways that you are not, and vice versa.  Marvelous, I tell you.

We began the class in January, and while I was at first worried that no one would come, I'm now starting to worry about space.  We are a small library, and each program we host requires some serious Tetris skills as we move furniture around to make everything and everyone fit.  Yoga is no different, as we average around one new person signing up each week, which I suppose isn't so surprising, as it is, after all, FREE, and as I told my mother-in-law, could also be called "yoga for people who have always wanted to try it but are too intimidated to do it at a gym."  Thankfully not everyone comes on the same day, so we tend to have one set of people with us on Monday, and another on Thursday.  Both days share the same favorite pose, however:  Corpse.  I've decided to believe that this is because it is so relaxing, not because it signals the end of class.

I'll just add yoga instructor and self-delusionist to my resume.

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