I’d love to say that my Sunday yoga classes were pure karma yoga, i.e. me giving an entirely selfless service (as you can read here the classes were based on donations for Yoga Stops Traffic), but I received rewards by the bucket. Although I was the teacher, I learnt so much from the friends and acquaintances that came and tried out Asthanga with me.
First of all, I managed to teach in Danish which was one of my main goals of the classes. Prior to teaching I’d been talking myself through my own morning practice (feeling a little silly and hoping that nobody heard me) to practice the phrases and find out which Danish asana names I was most comfortable with. Throughout the classes I’ve forgotten words for limbs and called the occasional shoulder a foot, but in the end it seemed as if I was understood as the students ended up in the poses I’d intended.
Then there was learning how to teach beginners. Of course I’ve only taught yoga teachers in the making at the teacher training. And let’s face it - even though we tried to simulate stiff backs or tight hamstrings everybody could quite easily tie themselves into a knot, so it was quite a healthy reality check to see people getting a good stretch 90 degrees into a forward bend. No point in telling people to stand on their feet (in pada hastana) when they can only reach their knees... Instead I found great use in telling students to honor where they were and leave their expectations and ambitions outside the door. And isn’t that what yoga really is about anyway? When we get to a certain level we start to have certain expectations of our abilities and ambitions about how a certain asana should look, so cultivating a beginner’s mind has been essential for me.
It’s been so rewarding to see people look completely relaxed and spaced out after Shavasana and go out into their Sunday looking relaxed and ready for a new week. To hear them (especially the guys) say how their bodies had ached on Monday morning and how this had gone on until Thursday when their muscles would finally be back to normal - and how this had actually motivated them to come back as ‘it really felt like a work out’. I’ve had sweet Facebook messages saying ‘My body is killing me, but I can’t wait to do it again’ and another one saying that the class had demystified yoga for him. One of the greatest rewards is that one of the women, who has been to all four classes, has started doing sun salutations on her own every morning. What more can a yoga teacher want?
So thank you to all you courageous people who have come to sweat, stretch, bend, breathe, meditate and donate. Namaste to you. Thank you for teaching me to pass on yoga. As you’ve been nice enough to ask I’ll be sure to let you know when and where I’m teaching next.