Teaching Yoga

judieatmorrowpreschool

When my friends learned that I was searching for a yoga teacher training program, they assumed I wanted to become a yoga teacher. I did not. I wanted to deepen my own yoga practice. I wanted to learn about the Sutras and the Gita, ancient yogic texts. What I didn’t realize, though, was that I would have to teach in my training. As students, we were supposed to teach, if I recall correctly, at least six community classes. For some reason, my teacher thought I was going to be an “amazing” (her words) yoga teacher. She told me I would get a following. She had me sub for her during my training, something most trainees don’t do.

I never enjoyed teaching. I was very nervous and insecure. I know some my fellow classmates felt the same. I reached out to experienced teachers for advice. I learned they too recalled feeling similarly as they began teaching. One or two even admitted they would take something to calm their nerves before teaching.

I felt I didn’t know enough to stand in front of a class and tell them what to do. I was scared someone was going to get injured in my class. I prayed, I sought the help of energy workers and spiritual coaching to help calm my nerves. I even had a session with a hypnotherapist. I often had to sub classes and I swear I could hear people’s voices saying “Oh shit, a sub! Ugh, I want to leave!” I did approach a few students after class to find out if they were thinking that. Why yes, they were. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a Reiki practitioner and am quite sensitive to feelings but I hated it. OK, I didn’t always hate it. I did teach a few series where I had the same four or six students every week. I knew them and they knew me. I got to know their bodies. I integrated yoga with Reiki. I did enjoy those classes. I felt I was serving these students to the best of my ability.

Even though I was nervous, I kept on teaching. I would say yes to most opportunities to teach. I approached yoga studios about getting on their schedule. It was a struggle since there are many yoga teachers in my hood. I even looked into renting my own space to teach a class after teaching six students in my living room for weeks.

And  yet…..

It wasn’t until I returned home from my trip to India last Fall that I realized, hello, I did not have to teach adults! Apparently some of my friends had given me that advice but I never heard them. Once I decided to devote my teaching to children, it was as if I had lost weight. I felt much lighter and freer.

I don’t always feel light and free when I teach kids. It’s challenging work. I don’t walk around a room teaching and demonstrating a few poses. I’m on the floor with them doing frog jumps and donkey kicks. I try to maintain their attention and focus. I’m constantly scouring blog posts and websites, taking trainings, buying books and props to use in my classes. However, I generally don’t get anxious and nervous as I used to when I was teaching adults. I do feel some anxiety before teaching at a new school or center, but it’s really not the same.

Yesterday, I read an article titled Memo to New Teachers: Be Patient. I thought the article was good until I came to the end when the author wrote “The world is full of great artists who never came to be because of a fear of being bad before they were good.” That sentenced took my breath away. Was he talking to me? Had I let fear win?  Or, was I simply following my dharma?

In my case, I believe my skills and gifts are best served teaching children. Who knows. Maybe if I had continued teaching adults, I would have overcome my nerves and anxiety. I also believe life is too short and there are many great yoga teachers. Once I made the decision not to teach adults, I wondered if I would change my mind. It’s been over one year, though, and my mind hasn’t changed. Will it ever?

Fellow yoga teachers, how did you feel as you began teaching?  Have those feelings changed the more you teach? Yoga practitioners, do you know or sense when a teacher is a new teacher or if she/he is nervous or anxious about teaching?

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Yoga Isn’t Just For Kids

mykidsyogaclass

Now that school is back in session, so are my kids yoga classes. This past week I’ve slowly eased back into my teaching. I taught two classes in East Orange to kids who have suffered trauma and now demonstrate severe emotional and behavioral issues. I will admit to being a bit nervous about resuming teaching there. Before I enter the Center, I take a few minutes in my car to center myself.  I pray and ask for guidance and support to best serve the kids. I send Reiki to myself and the room. I slather myself in calming essential oils and off I go. The classes I taught this week are the “easy” ones. The kids are younger and, for the most part, not as affected. Yet, I was cursed at, called stupid, had my props thrown across the room and a child tried to kick me. This particular child knew me from last year so I was surprised at his reaction. I do my best to stay calm and present to them an adult that will not react to them by yelling or getting overly upset.

I also led my free kids yoga class at Shatki Yoga. I had 20 kids (!!!!) in my class.  While my class is geared for kids ages 3-7, most of the kids were on the younger side. This free class always draws a large crowd. We like to offer a free class a few times a year so the kids can try the class before the series begins and the parents can see how it goes. This free class is a bit different than the classes I teach in the rest of the series simply because there are so many kids. I had an assistant this time which helped tremendously. What usually happens is one child asks to use the bathroom and then every single child has to go. With that amount of young kids, I needed an extra set of hands. All the kids seemed to have a lot of fun. So did I.

On Friday I visited Karma Kids Yoga. I became certified to teach kids yoga through this studio and I have continued to take numerous trainings they offer. One of the great things that the director, Shari, extends to graduates is the opportunity to observe classes. Since I don’t begin to teach on Fridays for another two weeks, I took the opportunity to head into the city and observe a 3-4 year old yoga class.

karma kids room

The studio is filled with butterflies, bright colors and fun. It was great to watch the teacher. It made me feel a lot better about my own teaching since her class was very similar to the ones that I teach. Sometimes I worry that I’m not doing a good enough job but observing this class helped increase my self confidence. The teachers who teach there are so lucky as the studio is filled with amazing props right at their fingertips.

Lastly, I volunteered to teach a free kids yoga class for my community on Saturday afternoon for the Maplewood Loves Wellness event. Even though I had just taught a free class a few days before, I still felt compelled to offer my service at this event. I assumed there could be families who weren’t aware of my class at Shakti. There really isn’t a way to prepare for an event like this. The event was like a street fair. My class was announced over a microphone and kids started to come over. I had kids ranging in age from 2-12. We sang some songs, did sun salutations and breath work as parents and passerby’s walked by.

All in all, it was a nice transition week back to teaching. Plus I was also able to give two in person Reiki sessions and one long distance session. I’m thankful to be able to continue offering healing energy sessions in addition to teaching kids yoga. As the weeks go on, I will be teaching at a preschool and an enrichment program at my daughter’s elementary school. Summer was great while it lasted!

Reiki & Manifesting

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When I decided to take a break this summer from teaching yoga to kids, I knew that I was going to have more time to devote to giving Reiki sessions. I love giving Reiki. If you have never heard of Reiki, I have a more formal definition of it on my blog but the short definition is that it’s a form of energy healing. When I give Reiki sessions (that’s a photo of my table), my main intention is that the person enters a meditative, calm state. When the body is relaxed, healing in whatever shape, can take place. The interesting thing is that healing often begins as soon as the person makes the appointment with me. Also, before I begin the session, I spend time talking with the person and often times, “things” come out. The person starts making connections with what is going on in their lives. Many times my clients will tell me that by talking with me and then receiving Reiki, they often have an “aha” moment.

The thought about spending my summer serving Reiki made me very excited and happy. I just didn’t know how I was going to make it happen. On the new moon, I wrote that I would like to give 1-2 Reiki sessions each week. I realized that I should tell my clients that my schedule was going to be more open. The thought also occurred to me to let them know that I was offering a summer discount. I love receiving discounts and I assumed they would enjoy that as well. I also reminded them that I offer a Friend Referral discount and that I offer long distance sessions. Even though I couldn’t wait to hit Send, I kept a draft in my gmail for about a week. I waited until I felt inspired to send it out. I don’t know what was creating that feeling but I’ve long learned to trust my gut.

After I sent the email, I wondered if there was anything I could do. The answer was no. I realized that if I was meant to give Reiki sessions, then people would come to me. At that point, I had done everything I felt inspired to do and the rest was up to the Universe.

I guess the Universe did want me to give sessions because I have been giving them! Last week I gave 3 sessions. Yesterday I realized that I didn’t have any appointments scheduled for the coming week. It’s July 4th week so I didn’t give it much thought. Today someone texted me to see if I was free on Wednesday morning for a session. I’m learning not to worry.

Maybe I’m just lucky? Maybe it is the Universe’s doing? Karma? Regardless of the reason, I’m thankful to be doing something that I love. And I’m so thankful and appreciative that my clients are enjoying this work.

It’s All Energy

practicalreikibookI

I’ve been studying a different form of energy healing for the past few weeks. It’s Kundalini Reiki, although my teacher trademarked  Practical Reiki to make it more “user friendly” (my words, not hers). I thought it would be a nice compliment to my Usui Reiki Master education.

I’ve been interested in energy work ever since I was a child. I loved writing down my wishes, writing letters to my future self, crystals and more. It’s funny. Even though I’m not sure if there is a God or karma or what, I do believe in energy. I believe because this is something that I experience myself. When I have received Reiki or other forms of energy work, I have felt things.  When I give sessions, I feel things and many times the person receiving the session has felt things. Also, many times I also see things and hear things during the session. Again, most times, the person receiving the session can validate what I say.

Where do these messages come from??? Who knows. I’m trying to stop trying to figure it out because I suspect there just isn’t a way to figure it out. All I know is that I really, really love giving Reiki sessions. I may love it even more than teaching kids yoga, although I teach way more than the amount of Reiki sessions that I give. It also seems that my clients love receiving sessions based on the feedback that I’ve received.

This weekend, my meditation teacher Jennifer is coming to town. In addition to teaching meditation, she also does a form of energy healing called Sunpoint. My first session with Jennifer was unlike anything I had ever experienced  I’m going to get attuned to Sunpoint too. The more energy, the better, right?

Do You Listen To Your Body?

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When I woke up yesterday, I wanted to move my body. I needed to exercise. But I didn’t feel like taking a yoga class or going to the gym. I also didn’t want to stay home and not do anything. I sat down and thought about what I wanted to do. I decided to take a walk around my neighborhood. I threw on my sneakers and my hand weights (I did want to get my heart pumping). It felt great to be outside. I loved looking at the blooming trees, tulips and flowers. (Side note: I didn’t even realize it was Earth Day until after I got home).

Along my walk, I thought about my intuition and how it’s how it’s so important  to take time to slow down and listen to what my gut is telling me. I recently was offered a yoga teaching opportunity. In the past, I would have immediately said yes. This time, I did immediately write back to say that I would need a few days to think about it and that I would get back to them as soon as possible. I reached out to a few friends to get their perspective. I also happened to read an article that gave me an idea. The more I thought about this situation, the more ideas came to me. After a few days I was able to respond in a way that made me feel good. It was all about slowing down and paying attention.

I’ve recently been studying a new form of energy healing called Kundalini Reiki. It’s all about your intention and then paying attention to sensations. It’s been a good practice for me.

I think we’ve all been in that position where we’re faced with a decision and our gut is screaming NO! NO! NO! yet our mind takes over and we say yes because it sounds like a good idea, we need the money or it would be good for our career. You say yes and you later realize it wasn’t the best decision.

Maybe it’s time to stop and smell the flowers. Slow down, take time to listen to your body and then act.

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Hooked On A Feeling

Have you ever heard something that you have heard before but it was as if it was the very first time you’ve heard it? That happened to me this last week. I retook a Reiki Level II class with my teacher Andrea. During the class, we discussed how to use Reiki to manifest and empower our wishes. One of the students mentioned her goal to go to the gym more often. Andrea questioned the wish underneath her wish. How would she feel if she went to the gym more often?

She replied that she would feel stronger, healthier and fit. Andrea advised to create that intention: “I am strong, healthy and fit.”

I’ve been mulling this concept over in my mind ever since. Over and over and over. It’s not the first time I’ve heard this. Focus on the feeling underneath your wish. To use my friend’s example, if she focused on feeling strong, healthy and fit, she may decide to go to the gym more often, or make healthier food choices or go to bed earlier or….you get the idea. There are many, many ways for her to achieve her wish. It’s way more than just going to the gym more often.

I thought about how this related to my own wishes.

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One of the wishes that I have been focused on most recently is attending the Yoga Journal Conference, Kripalu and Wanderlust. My wish underneath this wish is to feel part of a yoga community. I love practicing with a ton of other yogis. I love the energy, the vibe, the feeling of joy that fills my heart.

I realized that I get that feeling when I’m practicing in the yoga classes that I take nearly every single day! I much prefer taking classes rather than a home practice because I love being surrounded by other yogis. When I realized that, everything changed.  Continue reading

Reiki Master Practitioner

I’ve been studying Reiki, a form of energy healing, since 2009. Over the weekend, I began to study with a new Reiki teacher. I’m on my way to becoming a Reiki Master Practitioner (and possibly Teacher, if I ever decide to go that route).  It’s all just a title, really. But I am excited to continue and expand my learnings. Plus, I’ve been giving a lot of Reiki sessions and I want to serve my clients in the best way I can.

I asked my teacher to check out my chakras. She noticed a block in my heart chakra. Every single healer mentioned this blockage. Enough already! Seriously, weren’t these healers supposed to remove the block for me!?!?

My teacher gave me her perspective. She said  Continue reading