October 20, 2013

Personal Practice: Post 2 of 10

This week, how did you practice the following Emotional Intelligence competencies in relation to teaching, yoga, relationships, and consumption of resources?

This week I taught my first 90-minute yoga class when I subbed for the Director of our studio. She asked me to sub about a month ago and for the last four weeks I have been trying to not hold on to my fear and instead release it and focus on the sequence itself. In advance of the class I gave my self a pep talk and only a few times during the session did I find myself worrying that I wouldn't know what to say next.

To set the tone of the class I was in the room when most of the students arrived and I sat smiling as each entered the studio. The first student arrived 20 minutes early and I was not at all ready because I wanted to practice a bit of yoga before the students arrived. So, I went into one of the smaller studios and practiced some deep breathing. I was worried that perhaps she would leave, seeing that I was a sub and not her regular instructor. When I returned to the studio she was there and nine more students arrived to join us.

This is a good question. For the past two years of this teacher training program I have asked why I am training. The answer became clearer as I was teaching this class. The participants were engaged in what I was saying and I was sensitive to their needs. As I guided them through the asanas I recognized their attempts to find the connections I was suggesting. During the restorative poses I presented at the end of the session I could see that they were relaxed after the more challenging poses. I would say that in the end I was motivated by compassion...which leads me to empathy.

Currently I am an apprentice for Nancy Leigh-Smith's yoga class. Providing assistance and adjustments has been very challenging for me in that I feel hesitant and shy. I was starting to wonder if maybe I lacked empathy and was too focused on me and my hesitation to be a yoga instructor. But when I taught my class I was alert to the participants' needs and moved quickly to give each person support if they looked hesitant or uncomfortable. Although I teach every day, this physical assistance was so different than the intellectual guidance I offer my college students. Of course I have empathy for them but with physical assistance in yoga I felt like I was offering opening and relief.

Social Skill
How did social skill play into this teaching experience? I would say it was in that I focused on being the leader in the yoga studio. In this instructor role you cannot be hesitant or doubtful. Confidence and calm are essential and I believe I did a good job. Plus, I did not talk about myself. Rather I was 100% focused on the participants. That is what really motivated me and sparked a deep sense of empathy and compassion.