On teaching

Learning how to do a pose is one thing, teaching it to others is another. Verbalising the tips and tricks is yet another challenge.

People who know me well know that I can’t multitask, or tend to focus on just one thing while other senses take the background. And, I’m usually the quiet one. Alas, teaching required me to juggle many facets of my senses at any moment in time and to be vocal– taking note of sequence after each asana, verbalising the movement in and out of the pose, visually running through each part of the body to instruct correct alignments, counting out loud and making sure the pace is ok, moving around to adjust students into correct alignments or deeper into the pose, and last but not least, to vary the tone to give the extra push.

Teaching beginners, especially ultra-beginners was much harder than I had expected! Suddenly, I had to put myself in the shoes of those who rarely exercise, who are very stiff, or who are clueless about yoga – something which I would have taken granted for if not for this need to plan for an beginner’s class. We were tasked to think of warm up exercises, to break down poses ubiquitous to us yet foreign to beginners, to isolate muscle groups and come up with preparatory exercises to target these muscles in order to achieve better stability and strength in the chosen pose. And on the other extreme, we had to plan for intermediate students, to think of sequence that will challenge students and make them feel that they had gain something out of the 60min and yearn for more.

Through the teaching practise sessions, there were times where my insecurities were masked but rightfully pointed out by the master trainers, yet there were times where I was heavily disappointed by my own class – the incompetency was clearly showed in my energy level. There are times when little voices in my head would say “you should have said this, you should have done that, that was a strange move”, and I had to fight the urge to pull a face or say “oh shit”.

To me, teaching is like driving a manual car – you need to coordinate the gear shifting on one hand, the wheel on the other, left leg on the clutch pedal, right leg on the accelerator and brake, checking the front windscreen, rear & side mirrors, and making sure the journey from the start to the destination is safe and controlled. “Practice and all is coming. “ I need to plan classes like a driving route, and make sure all facets are well worked into the journey, and keep practising.

 

Hui Lian