Nothing is worth more than this day ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Today is a momentous day! Not only did I teach my first yoga practicum class today to 7 of my co-workers (and they all enjoyed it! one person couldn’t make today, they had a last minute training session they had to attend), and only on 4 hours sleep (thanks to bad digestion from dinner last night – I think the tomato basil pasta sauce didn’t agree with me – too acidic!), and from nervousness about today – I just did full crow pose for the first time ever! (while I did the final Yoga with Adriene Revolution video Day 31 – Presence Practice). I only lifted my feet off the ground for like a split second (or two), but still! I did it! I originally was hoping to do the YWA video first thing in the morning before leaving for work, but after my awful sleep last night, I decided to try and sleep in a bit longer and save her video for after work to unwind and de-stress after the nerves of today!
I had to set up the yoga room early for my first yoga practicum class (theme of Breathe or the breath) – moving all the equipment over before a ju-jitsu class started in the place where all the yoga supplies was and I wouldn’t be able to go in there and grab it all! I had brought a large tote from home to help carry the various items over, but soon realized i would have had to have made lots of trips! So I got a shopping cart from an area that has lots of shopping carts (thankfully!) and with the help of the fitness coordinator to hold all the doors in between, I moved everything over. I had to bring all the mats, blocks, bolsters, blankets and chip foam blocks from one building to the other neighbouring building and set up the space – including moving 2 large (and fairly heavy!) paper lamps as well to give the room softer lighting more suitable for yoga than the harsh overhead fluorescents (though I couldn’t get a small light at the back of the room to turn off – even though the rest did! so that was a bit annoying). It took me a while to bring everything over and set it up, but the atmosphere was great and everyone loved the space! I also brought my evaluation forms along with pencils for everyone to fill out the forms. A little bit of stress was – I only could confirm on Monday (yesterday!) that I would be using the room today to teach my class (because the original space I had booked had been double booked for a fitness class, so I was REALLY hoping the renovations on the new ‘yoga room’ would be done by today – and they were! (even though I had to move a ping pong table out of the centre of the room as well). So for the last week or so I had been stressing a bit about where I would be holding my class at work since it was kind of up in the air…so I had emailed the head of Facilities on Monday from home (I don’t work Mondays) just to confirm whether the room would be ready for me to use today for my class – I wanted to have some idea before showing up at work this morning since my class was at 11:30! And it was kind of one more little thing to stress and be worried about because I wanted it all to go smoothly – which it did in the end and i’m really happy and proud of myself getting over this ‘hurdle’ of the first class. And now I am confident that the rest of them I won’t be nervous at all for now that it’s over and done with and hopefully the other ones will be much easier! I tried not to be nervous, I tried to think of myself as helping people – everyone was happy to be there and support me and get some free yoga!, but even so, the first few minutes I was nervous (which I knew I would be!) and then I got into my groove. Everyone gave me good feedback – loved my tone of voice – soft, relaxing, sweet, thought it was a relaxing class, thought I did great describing the poses and cues. Someone else wrote that I am a natural! I thought my nervousness went away fairly quickly, after the first few minutes, but one of the students commented after that my nervousness totally left my voice halfway through the session – half way!! It felt way quicker than that to me! I got back couple of laughs out of people when I said some funny things too – like how I do neck rolls all the time now – anywhere (like the supermarket) and people probably look at me like a crazy person! The second laugh I got was when I demonstrated the 2nd version of crocodile pose and how it’s like you’re just lying watching Netflix or something with your head in your hands. One of my students (on the way back to our respective work areas) said I did really really well and they really enjoyed it. And everyone said they were looking forward and excited to take next weeks class! Everyone rated my class a 5 or ‘excellent’ – except I got one 4 (very good) which was the only one that had any ‘negative’ feedback I got was someone thought I should be checking people as they did the pose to make sure they were doing it right – but I was! I observed people when they got into the poses ( I also said at one point doing a pose that I was going to get out of the pose but they continue holding it – but most of the time people couldn’t see me because of the poses that they were (on their backs or faces turned away) but I was watching, and correcting and guiding people into the poses (like one person was a bit confused with Thread the Needle, so I showed them how to do the pose again and encouraged them to put their head on the mat. The person who gave me the ‘negative’ feedback was the person who came in late to the class and missed my introduction to the class and the theme, and so I had to repeat my spiel for her sake about listening to your own body and doing what feels comfortable and if there’s any pain to come out of the pose and into child’s pose or shavasana or another resting pose And I offered props (like bolsters or blocks) if people needed them in the supine twist pose. I also offered to give people blankets in Shavasana and helped them with their blankets and suggested if they wanted to rest their head on a block or blanket they could. I also thanked people for taking the time to come to their mat, at the beginning of class, and especially thanking them for taking time for themselvesAnd I timed the class perfectly! So everything went well. I gave the benefits of the poses, and the contraindications before they got into the pose. I demonstrated certain poses (I demonstrated Child’s pose at the very beginning for those who had never done yoga as a pose they could take if they wanted a rest during the practice. Other poses I demonstrated were: Dolphin and Reverse Pigeon. I also gave people options when doing 1 legged Revolved Belly that they could lower both knees at once if the one leg twist is too intense in their low back.
I also talked about how asana means comfortable seat when we were in Sukhasana and that that is the real purpose of the yoga poses – to be comfortable in meditation. I mentioned how the average adult takes about 21,000 breaths a day but how many of them do we notice and pay attention to? I talked about how focusing on the breath (in pranayama or meditation or yoga) allows our mind to become still and relaxed and not thinking about yesterday or worrying about tomorrow, and just being in the present moment. I explained what Om meant at the beginning of class before we chanted it (even though it was difficult to chant Om at first because I was so nervous!) – that it’s the sound of the universe, and that it ties us to the great power of the universe, to each other in class and to the great lineage of yoga and all the yogis before us. When I asked at the beginning of class about health issues – I also added that if anyone wanted to come and tell me a health issue in private instead of speaking out in front of everyone they could do so. And then I went on to tell them to listen to their own body, that this is their yoga practice and not to compare themselves with their neighbours. To be gentle, to only go as far as is comfortable for their body today and if they experience any pain or pinching to come out of the pose. I also explained Namaste at the end (as there were a couple people who had never done yoga before), and I explained what the word yoga means at the beginning of class- union – union of the body and the breath, and how we move with embodied movement, and also union of the mind, body and spirit, and how yoga (and life!) begins with the breath – the whole theme of the class.
One of the students kept their eyes open the whole time – even when I invited them to close their eyes for the pranayama practices and meditation, which was kind of off putting to me, but to each their own! They did close their eyes in shavasana! (where I explained it is the most important pose because it allows to body to absorb and integrate all the benefits of all the poses we have done in class)
I also explained the definition of pranayama – the breathing exercises – how prana means life force and ayama means expansion of the life force. So after explaining all these little bits and pieces in this first class -which had the theme of breath or breathe – and how I said that how yoga starts with the breath and in fact life itself starts with breath – that for the following classes, I won’t have to explain OM or pranayama or the definition of yoga, or how pranayam relaxes and calms the mind, or how yoga is a moving meditation of the breath and the body and how we breath 21,000 breaths (approx) each day but how often are we aware of it etc, how embodied movement allows us to be in the present moment etc – so I got across everything I wanted to (with regards to the ‘extraneous’ information i wanted to pass on – when I was doing chest and belly breath, I talked about how most of us these days breathe with our chest only not our full belly and diaphragm).
After finishing the class with a Observation of the Natural Breath Meditation – which made sense seeing how the theme of the class was breathe or breath (and I gave everyone a little flyer that outlined the poses we did in the class), I explained the (or a) definition of Namaste – that the light in me sees and honours the light in you.
I ended the class with Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hahn’s quote about breathing:
Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.
And then I was glad the class was done because I REALLY had to go to the washroom for the last 10 minutes as I led/guided them into shavasana and then through the meditation (too much water + nerves = bathroom!). All the people told me how great the class was, how much better their hips and back felt etc. And they all really appreciated it. So I’m happy that I was able to help everyone and I’m so glad they are all looking forward to coming back next week! When I came home today I noticed I had a blister on one foot, and a torn snag of skin on the bottom of the big toe of the other foot (which i tried to tear off – bad idea! now i’ve covered it with a bandaid). So both my feet are sore – the perils of yoga!