Do you remember how it felt to ride a bike for the first time? The training wheels. The wobbliness as you tried to travel in a straight line. Falling over and getting a bruise from the handlebars. It was all forgotten when you made that first solo ride down the driveway and either managed to stop by yourself or had someone waiting for you at the end. You did it.
Well, I felt the same exhilaration after teaching my first 60 minute yoga class. It’s a karma class meaning that the yoga is offered for free, for the good of the community and, in this case, all taught by the Eastside Yoga shala students. Those that attended could leave a donation for Street Help, a group that assists the homeless in Windsor. Leading a practice was something that I didn’t think about too much before I started teacher training. I was really out to deepen my interest in yoga. And then, suddenly it seemed, it was time to give it a try myself.
I was nervous, in a “butterflies-in-the-stomach-before-a-performance” kind of way. The adrenalin kick was invigorating. There were nine people taking the class and I knew them all. That made it easy (nice to be amongst friends) and hard (I would see them again! What if I bombed?) at the same time. I knew it was just my mind telling me stories. I’ve been in situations like this before and lived to see another day. I’m faced with challenges all the time when I practice veterinary medicine. What I experience on the mat or in teaching a class are similar to the skills that I use to approach a tough case. I think doing yoga has made me a healthier person and a better veterinarian.
So, I gave myself a moment to settle on my seat at the front before starting. I had the support of several colleagues from shala, either taking or assisting in this class. Opened the practice with some breath centering, moved onto a few rounds of Sun Salutations and standing poses, did balance and hip openers and then ended with some poses on the floor. I was a little worried that I’d made the sequence too short. When I ran through the flow at home, it was about an hour. When it came down to the real thing, it went a bit faster than I’d rehearsed. But if there was one thing that I’d gotten out of our practice teaching during yoga school, it was that “you fake it ’til you make it” and no one would be the wiser. Teaching this class kept me on my toes, that’s for sure.
As a kid, you don’t think about all the people that were involved in helping you get going on those two wheels. As an adult, I’m thankful to all the teachers that have taught me in the last 2.5 years. I am an amalgamation of all of these influences. I’m grateful that I have the means, the family support and the time to pursue my passion for yoga.
It’s fun to celebrate this little success. After all, it’s my very first class at the studio. I’ll allow myself this little luxury for a short while. But then the phrase “you’re only as good as your last (fill-in-the-blank)” pops into my head. Already started leafing through Yoga Journal, reading books, watching some videos and gathering ideas for the class that I’m teaching next Sunday.