Class Notes, Week 18: Working with new bodies, more bodies

The Moksha yoga teacher training program requires me to journal once each week about my experience with the poses and assignments + my practice and progress. This is part of that weekly assignment.

I taught another class today.  At 8 a.m., five willing souls entered the Moksha West Bucktown studio for some pranayama and asana practice.  It was my first class that consisted of more than one or two people.

The quantity of students was a new element for me — as was the fact that three of the five were not close friends of mine.  Two were work colleagues and one was a friend of a friend, someone I was meeting for the first time today.  It was great to have different body types in the room, including a lone male.

I know class sizes can easily exceed a dozen students.  In fact, I’m required to teach a free (scheduled) Moksha class at some point during my teacher training, so I will be confronted with class sizes larger than five students.  I heard those particular classes exceed 20 students.  But for now, a gradual build to this size is good, as it gives me time to learn how I can best monitor classes and the individual needs of each student.  Don’t throw me into the deep end just yet, in other words!

I tried to keep two pieces of advice from Kim Wilcox in mind during this morning’s practice: 1) Try to touch every body at least once during the class; and 2) Watch for alignment safety issues.  The second one, I know, will become more challenging when class sizes increase.  After all, how can you monitor every single body in a 25-person class and keep a rhythm going?  I did my best throughout today’s practice.  But I also addressed it at the beginning of class, before we closed our eyes to begin the breath work, to put that responsibility on the students, too: “Please only go to your edge.  Don’t push beyond it.  Don’t let ego get in the way.  You’re not going to impress any of us when you twist or tweak something the wrong way.”  (I’ve found that humor and drama can help get my points across in the non-yoga world.)  Perhaps I’ll make this “reminder” a consistent part of my class opening moving forward.

I am getting more comfortable with cues; with playing around with sequencing and storytelling; and with giving gentle adjustments, especially Downward Facing Dog.  During my Friday night apprenticeship with Kim, I get a good taste of all of this while assisting with her class — and she makes time for me after the class to teach me all sorts of useful things one-on-one.  But that Friday night class is her class, students are there seeking guidance from her.  When that responsibility falls 100-percent on me, I can’t defer to Kim.  It’s way more pressure.  Good pressure, of course.  Pressure I embrace.

It still makes me go “Wow” internally when I see the lengthening of a student’s spine beneath my touch during the Downward Dog adjustment.  I gave everyone that adjustment this morning, and some spines lengthened more than other.  My male student’s spine especially.  As I continue on with the yoga teacher training (and beyond), I look forward to more little moments like that — moments of awe and wonder.  I also hope that the ones I’m experiencing now don’t completely lose their luster years down the road.

Leave a Reply