Leaving the Tirisula TTC, I was not at all confident about my ability to teach yoga to beginners. It had nothing to do with the course; the course was great. It was me. I’ve heard many people say you don’t have to be a good practitioner to be a good teacher but I couldn’t subscribe to that. I just couldn’t. My body wasn’t flexible or strong enough for a lot of asanas. How could I, in all good conscience, teach? Anyhow, back in the Andamans, a few of my friends who work on the island insisted I do yoga classes with them. As teaching is part of the 30 hour project work, it worked well in my favour and Yoga with Pritha at 4:30pm was planned. I had 4 students, all beginners to yoga.
I wasn’t sure how to structure my first class. Should we say the prayer? Should we chant Om a few times? What about Pranayama? My students wanted to do yoga to get “fit and bendy” as one of them said. They weren’t really interested in the “other, superfluous” (as another called it) stuff. So there I was, sitting on the horns of a dilemma, wondering whether to structure the classes according to what the students wanted or how I thought would be the right way of doing it. I didn’t want to make someone spend 15 minutes with breathing and pranayama if they really weren’t interested. But it was important, no? After losing a whole night’s sleep over how I’d structure my first class as a yoga teacher, I decided to do the prayer, pranayama and Oms, but a shortened version. I told them we would do it for the first few classes and if they really didn’t think it was interesting or beneficial, we would figure something else out. Of course, it worked because there is a massively therapeutic and relaxing element to the vibrations and energy created by the Om sound as well as a few rounds of Kapal Bhatti and everyone felt it instantly. Phew.
My other big worry were the asanas. For the first class, I made sure I taught only those asanas that I felt confident performing myself. That wasn’t too hard. What I was worried about was what if they asked questions I couldn’t answer? And someone did. She asked me where and how the body weight should be placed in Matsyasana so as to avoid stress to the neck. I knew it was mostly in the arms, but what about the legs? Do I relax them or keep them engaged? I had to go back into the asana to figure it out. Slightly embarrassing, but not a huge catastrophy. My students knew this was my first class; I was upfront about it. Also, they were my friends so I got away with being way less than perfect.
Anyhow the point of all of this is that, I enjoyed my first class, it wasn’t as frightful as I thought it would be and after class, my students said “Pritha that was great. Can we do it again tomorrow?” Great feeling. Each day, teaching gets less stressful and more fun. I realize now that baby steps are important. Thanks to my first group of students who really are wonderful and very forgiving. Teaching them, my friends, is a great stepping stone to building the experience and confidence for going off and teaching complete strangers.