Thursday, July 14, 2016

Badass Yoga Teachers: Holding Space for Your Students


For my next post in the Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire, I wanted to share a little 'secret' that helped transform my experience of teaching...

About two years after my yoga teacher training, I had a full schedule of classes (8-12 per week) and was teaching Vinyasa yoga at five studios in the Sacramento area. I was hosting free community kirtans and offering a workshop every few months. My group of 'regulars' at each of my classes was starting to grow and I often heard positive feedback from them that they enjoyed taking my class.

And yet, I felt overwhelmed and burned out. I was tired of driving across town twice or three times a day. I wasn't sure if I could handle another conversation with a student about personal struggles. The thought of being at the front of the room to demo a pose made me want to take child's pose and just rest.

I had built up to this moment for so long... becoming a 'full-time' yoga teacher was my dream! And yet I felt exhausted, and a little voice in my head kept asking, When will it be my turn to have space held for me, instead of me being the one to hold everyone up? When can I find a teacher who will lead and inspire me? 

Around this time, I put a post on my blog about feeling stressed and immediately I heard back from a dear friend who is also a yoga teacher.

He offered me a piece of advice that has truly stuck with me:

What if, instead of holding space for your students, you focus on sharing space?

This was exactly the shift in perspective that I needed.

I began to notice the ways that my students were holding space for me as much as I was holding space for them. The more open with them I could be about my experience, the more support and love I received in return.

I also made a habit of receiving the energy of the room, especially toward the end of class.

There is something very sacred about people practicing yoga together, and I tend to notice it most when class is winding down; students are in restful yin poses, usually on the ground, or they are perfectly still in Shavasana. Supta Baddha Konasana and supine spinal twists are also poses where I notice the presence of deeply healing energy.

As a teacher, you can sit on the floor right in the middle of your students, and be with them in these moments. Feel how nourishing it is to share space, and how you receive the peacefulness of yoga even if you are leading a class rather than participating in it pose by pose.

By sharing space with your students, you gain the ability to hold space for yourself as a teacher. Next time you walk in the studio door to teach, perhaps you'll be able to notice what space is being held for you.

Namaste.


PS: More great articles on how to hold space as a yoga teacher:

The Badass Yoga Teachers series here on Alive in the Fire is meant to:
  • inspire you with new ideas
  • support you on days when you feel exhausted or worn down from teaching
  • ignite your passion
  • offer useful, tangible resources to help you create a successful yoga business
  • connect you with a network of amazing, talented, experienced yoga teachers
  • provide safe space for you to learn, share, and grow in your career
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this series! If you have ideas for posts, or want to share your journey as a teacher, please email me at aliveinthefire at gmail dot com.

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