With the expansion of yoga in the modern world, comes the broadening of the practice itself, the practitioners, styles, lineages, and teachers. In modern day yoga communities, we are witness to this expansion.
Weather you are new to yoga or a long-time practitioner, you may even notice the shift in your own personal practice or the development of a yoga teacher’s style from year to year.
Today we are blessed with many types of Yoga Practitioners (and teachers) from various backgrounds, religions, and generations. Which is testament to the accessibility and range of styles. When it comes to Yoga, there is truly something for everyone.
For me, it was the physical practice that brought me to yoga initially. At the age of 5, I started practicing classical ballet so the first time I stepped on my yoga mat — I was hooked. I prematurely “taught” myself many “party-trick” yoga poses that my body wasn’t ready for, which slowly lead me to understanding that yoga is a lifetime of practice.. wow, what a large idea!
5 years into my yoga practice, I felt the shift, I stopped resisting the need to slow my life down, and during yoga school (with encouragement and love from my teachers) — I found Restorative yoga. I felt that my life began to be more comfortable to me. Like meeting myself again. To this day, my personal practice is a combination of Hatha Flow and Restorative Yoga. And just as in my personal practice, my teaching has largely come from a traditional Hatha Flow background and more modern style of Restorative Yoga.
This year, 2 years into my teaching career, I was blessed to have the opportunity to teach at Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Austin, Tx! WooHoo! Last year, I attended Wanderlust Festival as a student (read more about that here), so I was thrilled to attend the festival this year as a student and teacher.
So the first week of November, I wandered to Austin Texas for one of the most incredible and fulfilling experiences of my entire life! I checked-in bright and early on the first day of the festival and unrolled my mat for a basics class taught by one of my favorite teachers from last year, Gioconda Parker. We workshopped alignment in basic poses like plank, Chaturanga Dandasana (4-limbed staff pose), and Trikonasana (triangle pose). Gioconda gave interesting and new-to-me alignment cues for each of these poses. I learned about my tendencies, developed habits, and proper alignment. I love learning new ways to practice awareness.
During this class, I started to think of the grandiosity of teaching at my first national yoga festival. I thought of all of the yoga teachers world wide that were teaching to national audiences, the teachers who were teaching other teachers, all of the years of experience they have, years of teaching experience.. and I found a bit of personal uncertainty. I got all up in my own head wondering how I could teach along side them at a festival being a relatively new yoga teacher. I thought, “there is no way I can teach a class like this.”..
.. and before I knew it, it was time for my first class. I hired my partner in life and yoga, John, to be my teaching assistant. He was incredibly helpful with setting the lights, temperature, and music, giving prop instruction to incoming students and making sure that I had everything that I could possibly need to be able to do what I do — teach yoga.
By this point, I didn’t have time to be in my head or doubt my ability. The room was filled with 70+ students, the mic was on my head, the mic was on, the sound of my breath coming through the sound system, and all I could hear was my own heartbeat.
I was on. If I ever find myself nervous at the beginning of a class, workshop, or in this case — festival, I can find calm and feel aligned to the teaching by closing my eyes and uniting the room in 3 consecutive OMs. This instance was no different. I don’t recall what I said, what I didn’t say, or what I forgot or wanted to say but that doesn’t matter now. What made an impression on me was that I was relaxed. I was able to be the medium for the message and practice of Restorative Yoga. I was honest, heartfelt, and genuine about the challenging and traditional practice of Restorative Yoga. I taught in a way that honored my teachers and the teachings. I felt grateful.
70+ students restored during the first class I taught at Wanderlust. Many of them came up to me afterwards to ask questions about their experiences both physically and emotionally during class. Many came up just to say thank you and give me a hug. Many rolled up their mats and left quickly, as if the 90-minutes spent in my class was the longest and worst experience they had all day.
Afterwards, I breathed a sigh of relief, and I let it go. Let it all go.
Over the next 3 days, I taught 2 more Restorative Yoga classes and gave a lecture about Life in Corpse Pose: Savasana. Each class, I felt calm, connected, relaxed. Some where during this experience, I learned the type of teacher that I have become. I learned to embrace, live, and be thankful that I know the type of teacher that I want to be, right now. I practice daily and teach what I practice: R E L A X A T I O N. (ah, breathe it out, relaxation)
And, just as it should, it feels comfortable to know what type of teacher I have become.