The most intense teaching experience I've had recently was when I taught the class while on vacation in State College: I felt like I was back home. I was teaching in the room where I had begun a regular practice, where I first began my yoga teacher training, and where I had often escaped to after a hectic day. I was there with one of my best friends and my sister, and I felt intense emotional connections surrounding me. The class felt easy to teach. I was in a small room where I could easily jump on and off the mat, offering personalized attention to each student several times. In this class I was really able to feel as if I was giving, sharing, and experiencing all that yoga is. Teaching a class that feels good on multiple levels is extremely rewarding.
In contrast, I've also recently covered a few classes that were not my own, and so the individuals coming to the classes were also unfamiliar to me. Teaching this type of class, where I am unfamiliar with the room, the students, their practice, and their expectations is extremely confronting. When teaching these classes, I try to be authentic to my teaching style while reading the class and their responses to the practice. Regardless, I tend to feel a little uncertain after these classes.
I'm continually trying to deepen my practice and thus my teaching. Working with Martine, reading various texts, and continuing my daily practice all contribute. But after teaching my class this past Monday evening, I felt a little off. I had practiced reading my class, I gave them what I thought they could handle and needed, and I think that the class went well overall. However, after the class my personal well-being felt a little challenged. I reflected on the class, couldn't identify a reason for my feelings, and then went to do some reading on Yoga Journal's website to work toward an answer.
The article I was drawn to was one on surrender. I read about shifting my perspective from my own inner-world to the larger big-picture. I know I'm often an emotional person, but I started to cry as I read this article. I felt like my own practice needed more "heartfulness" practice (similar in concept to "mindfulness," but in a spirit of offering). A practice as an offering is a hard concept for me to grasp. I'm used to practicing for myself and to better myself; which in turn will be reflected in how I live my life and interact with others. However, shifting to think of my practice as an offering to the world made me feel excited. I felt like I had been drawn to this article to deepen my practice (and teaching) to allow the next "breakthrough." I think that the feeling I had Monday night was one of stagnated contentment. I was happy with the class, but I felt a little stuck.
I know that not every practice or every class I teach can feel like the class in State College. Every practice, every class, and every day is different. But I really like the idea of heartfulness, and hope that heartfulness in my practice, classes, and life will assist in creating experiences similar to the one I had at my "home" studio, where heartfulness was natural.