Taking My Seat as a Yoga Teacher

I recently taught my first beginner’s yoga class and had the honor of being two students’ very first teacher. When I surveyed the class for first-timers and their two hands meekly rose into the air, I felt an immense simultaneous reaction of joy and responsibility. Throughout my certification journey, my mentor would come back time and again to the importance of “taking your seat” as a teacher and “holding the space” for your students. As a yoga teacher, I owe it to everyone who comes to one of my classes to show up and be present. This is never more important than when you are teaching those that are new to the practice.

It is such a rush to guide someone through their first Sun As and Bs, or watch them as they begin to understand how the power of their breath is all they need to go deeper into a posture. As I watched these two students throughout the class, I was elated and inspired to see the movement begin to make sense in their bodies. With my subtle hands-on adjustments and carefully chosen words, they quickly made the practice their own.┬áThe true reward was when one of my first-timers came up and gave me a huge hug at the end of class, thanking me for her introduction to the practice. I’m a complete sap so I nearly cried, but kept it together (holding the space) and simply radiated gratitude for her kind words.

While teaching new students definitely evokes an uplifting, I-love-what-I-do feeling, it can also be very intimidating. Yoga has been such a huge part of my life for the past decade that I want to ensure I do everything in my power to make it approachable for people. The last thing I would want is for someone to walk out of my class saying, “yoga was not for me.” I truly believe that yoga – in its many forms – is good for everybody and I want people to keep coming back and see how it can help them.

It is this simultaneous joy and responsibility that drives me to be better every day for my students. After all, they are trusting me with their bodies and, to a certain degree, overall well-being. I take this trust very seriously and feel oh-so lucky that I get to share something that incomparably nourishes me physically, mentally and emotionally with others.

Below are a few of the beautiful photos that my dear friend Leo Matsuo recently snapped of me on the National Mall, featuring hand-painted clothes by the lovely and talented Ashley Ann Bennett. At the time, I was so focused on my Fallen Angel that I didn’t notice the little girl watching me. I love these images because they serve as a reminder that being a teacher means…

Fallen Angel 1

…it is my job to challenge and inspire people to find their edge…

Fallen Angel 2

…it is my job to encourage people to find opening in places where walls are holding them back from their full potential, both as a yogi and a human being…

Fallen Angel 3

…and it is my job to remember that students are trusting in you as their teacher to serve as an example and leader for how to practice yoga with personal integrity, self-kindness (aka listening to your body) and a sense of adventure!

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