Friday, July 26, 2013

Pre-yoga class jitters and how to beat them

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This week was my third week working as a yoga instructor.  I have been filling in for the teacher who had gone to visit family In Europe, so, really, I’ve been subbing. I’ve learned from grade school on that it’s hard being a sub. The class is used to their teacher, resentful of the interloper, and impatient when she does things differently.  They might throw spitballs.

And, Elin is a fantastic teacher, so the bar was high.  

Add to all that, appearances aside, I’m kind of a nervous person. I hate public speaking and have been known to clam up so much it feels like I’m having a panic attack – heart raising, pulse quickening, voice wavering.  So, the day of the first class I had a bit of anxiety. 

But, you know what’s really awesome for anxiety? 

Umm…. Yoga.

So, with this logic tucked in the back pocket of my yoga pants, I started my first class.  We worked on some breaths, and on each exhale I felt my anxiety leave my body a bit.   As we moved through the familiar poses, I found my voice. Like a bona fide yoga instructor I heard myself saying things like “lead with your heart,” “breath into the pose” and “absorb the benefits of your practice,” talking almost as much to myself as to everyone else.
And it worked!  The students did not mutiny or throw spitballs. There were no exasperated sighs or eye-rolls.  In fact, after my final Namaste, a few students even clapped!  (Maybe because they knew me from class and were simply being supportive, but I’ll take it.)   

Normally, after yoga I get a “yoga high” or a “yoga buzz.”  Yogis will tell you about it.  It’s a rush of something… endorphins, adrenaline, relaxins (is that a thing?)… I don’t know.  But I feel calm and at peace.  A little dopey and oddly patient.  I move slower, and that pace doesn’t seem to bother me.  And another thing: I don’t so much care how others might judge me – an affliction I’m normally plagued with.  I feel wholly comfortable in my own skin. 

So, at just that moment at the end of class when all my pre-class nerves would have begged for some positive affirmation, I didn’t need it.  I wanted people to like the class because what that would mean for them - for their ability to also reach that peaceful state.  But not for what it would mean for my typically fragile ego.  And that lesson is what I’m taking with me to all following classes:  Work towards helping others find some peace, not making them like you.

If I can focus on that goal, I can escape some of the pre-yoga class jitters and probably lead a better class in the process.

What's made you nervous? How do you do to escape anxiety? 


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Heidi. I'm not all that wise in "real life" but sometimes I find some wisdom I didn't know was there when I write things down. Funny how that happens, huh?

  2. Wow - it's been a while since I've visited you as well. I had no idea you were a yoga instructor - a woman with many talents! Sounds like it was a great class.

  3. Such an amazing read out.Yoga is about equalization.The goal is to locate the right blend of effort and rest to make a pose feel easy.The bigger goal is to take that adjust and apply it to life in general so that relationships,work, and different exercises feel like the right combination of energy and passion.Thank you.

    Rachel Wood.

  4. Yoga,by definition,is the union of the body,the psyche and the soul.It appears to be as though it concentrates all the more on the individual,however it likewise refers to the union of the self to the entirety.What is the self, and what is the entirety?I see it the accompanying way: we must do our internal work to such a degree,to the point that we start to know ourselves so profoundly that the self is no more isolated from the entirety.
    @Laura Smith.