This year’s International Women’s Day was especially special for me as I had my first experience of teaching a corporate yoga class at the IWD event that is annually held at the place that I work for. I had made known my intention early in November last year, and as circumstance and fate came together I was eventually given a 1 hour slot during the activities portion of the event.
Of course they failed to tell me that my yoga session would be at 4pm, 15 minutes after the afternoon tea break and will be running at the same time as the manicure/pedicure session, the ‘luxury’ goods auction and the treasure hunt which they called “the amazing fund walk” where participants search for clues and get to keep the prizes they find along the way (which I found much later included cosmetics from Bobbi Brown)
Nevertheless, 7 people turned up in this beautiful studio. Earlier in the day as I was rolling out the mats for the class, looking through the ceiling to floor glass windows and the green park outside, it felt for a few seconds like I could own this studio and be teaching in this kind of space for the rest of my life. It felt surreal.
The 7 ladies that turned up had a varying mixture of experience with yoga. Some were completely new to it. As I went through my sequence, one that I had been prepping for a few days before (which is rather unusual for me) I realised that makes teaching fun for me was the spontaneity it allows me while I am in front on my mat demonstrating one pose flowing to the other, and another until we finally come to Savasana. So out the huge sunny window went my plan and I taught what I knew.
I guess I must have grown comfortable with my Saturday group that teaching a completely new group came off as a little unnerving. I looked ahead at faces which I have never met, most smiling, ready, but some skeptical. Perhaps that little voice in my head was tuning in a little too loudly to the negativity that I seem to pick up from the room.
Although the class ended quite ok, I opened the floor to questions or comments at the end. One lady said she never knew yoga could be so hard. And of course that little voice in my head goes off on a bullet train speed chastising my choice of poses for the day. And I had to remind her (and more so myself at that moment!) that as with all things, practice, practice, practice and all is coming.
Needless to say, all of my energy was completely drained by the time my day ended. I couldn’t quite figure out why as teaching always leaves me high on a buzz or serves to pump up some of the energy life force but realised the answer a day after as I was about to start my Saturday afternoon class.
L, a lovely British lady whom married a Malaysian and settled her for the last couple of decades is one of my regulars. She walked in while I was setting up and said “you look really tired” and instead of choosing to explain my rather complicated experience from the day before, I replied that I had no make up on (like WHO actually puts on makeup before they teach??). Because she was my only student in that afternoon session, and because we have this familiarity about us as I had seen her for the last 5-6 Saturdays, I felt like I could give her the attention she needed, thrown in with the detailed explanation to suit exactly where she is now.
Towards the end, as she came out of her Sarvangasana, I felt somehow teaching this class gave me that familiar energizing feeling. I taught and I was reenergized. A completely opposite effect to the previous day. I took the opportunity to thank her and told her it was such a joy to teach her that day and that all of my tiredness seem to have just evaporated away. And she told me something that made me realise why I love what I do and why every moment that lead me to being able to teach yoga was absolutely worth it.
“Sometimes I dread coming down here with all the other things I have to do. But everytime I walk out of your class, I always feel 6 feet tall”
As I ponder back to this conversation, watching her achieve her own breakthroughs in her practice, I realise what makes teaching so enjoyable and empowering for me is to be able to follow through with the student as both mine and their practice evolve, improve and grow with time. On the flipside, what makes it draining at times is succumbing to the negative thoughts and the desire to make each session as accessible to everyone as possible, at the expense of my own peace of mind.
Ultimately, I think we are students as much as we are teachers to one another. And at the end of the day, beyond the peace, and happiness, we each seek enlightenment and truth in its own unique form, whether it be through our work, or how we generally choose to go through life.
Be students, Be teachers, Be politicians, Be preachers, Be believers, Be leaders, Be astronauts, Be champions, Be truth seekers
– The Script, Hall of Fame