Wednesday, August 26, 2009

hi, i'm the new teacher

It's almost been 2 months since I've been teaching Bikram yoga now. To sum it up, it's been a love/hate relationship. It's definitely harder than it looks. I'm not a huge fan of public speaking, so to stand on a podium in front of a class full of sweaty students for 90 min is tough. On top of that, you spew off dialogue (kind of like a script) for 26 postures, 2 breathing exercises. Add to that the fact that you have to watch the clock to make sure that postures are being held according to the correct time (1 min, 30 sec, 20 sec, 10 sec, etc). AND you have to watch the bodies (especially beginners) to make sure that the postures are being performed correctly. It's an awful lot of multi-tasking, which is my weak spot.

So here are the highlights of my teaching experience so far with students...

The Evil Eye Student
It's 105 in there (sometimes hotter) and you are telling people to do things that are hard. They don't want to do it sometimes and boy, do they let you know! I label these students, "Mr./Ms. Evil Eyes." When they are supposed to be focusing on themselves in the mirror, they throw you a 1/2 second deadly glare that sends chills down your spine. If looks could kill.

The "Ew Gross" Student - 110% of the time, these students are female. They are typically new students and can't fathom the idea of being in a hot room with other sweaty bodies. One "Ew Gross" gal in particular asked me if the sweat from other people's bodies is harmful, as if a drop of sweat that flings her way would burn her skin like silver on a vampire. This Ew Gross student went on to ask if the toxins that had been released from the prior classes in the studio was dangerous for her health. At this point, I looked at her hands, searching for handcuffs since it seemed like she had been dragged into the studio against her will.

Another "Ew Gross" gal made blatent facial expressions to let me know that she didn't enjoy the smell inside the studio. It's hot, humid, what do you expect the room to smell like - fresh cut roses?

The Groaner
We all know some whiners. The Groaner is the student that just can't be silent during a meditative savasana (which translates to "dead body pose" so imagine the posture). Savasana is the most important posture in the entire series. Bikram says it's the most hardest posture too. You just had your butt kicked for the past hour and now is your time to lay on your back, clear your mind and relax your body as still as possible. The Groaner ignores the teacher's request to remain quiet and does such things that dead bodies don't normally do like groan, sigh, move, fart, burp, etc.

The Rebel
Their favorite song is Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It!" They come in all forms. You never know what The Rebel looks like until you get into the hot room. Many times, they are in Child Pose (not even part of the Bikram series) while the rest of the students are in a completely different posture, like Camel. One Rebel asked whether she could do a headstand in place of postures that she couldn't do. Might as well run in place on the mat and pretend you're running a half marathon in the desert. A much better workout than a headstand.

The Anti-Change Student (New category added on 9/6)
These students arrive over 30 min. prior to class in order to reserve their favorite place in the studio. It reminds of when people line up 1 hour ahead of time on SouthWest Airlines to secure their favorite seat. The yoga will teach these types of students to be more flexible and accept change because one day (*gasp*) they may find a mat already in their favorite spot. The practice is the same. Your reflection in the mirror will never change even if you are in the left back corner instead of the right front row. When I sub for another teacher's regular time slot, these students walk through the studio doors, look at me behind the desk and give me "the face." It's a facial expression comprised of 20% surprise, 30% questioning "do i really need the yoga today?" and 50% "ohhhhh great, new teacher teaching." They are used to doing the same routine, according to the same environment. Taking class with a different teacher (nevertheless a NEW teacher) will throw them off. Eeek - they have lost control! Typically, these students will fake a smile and ask me, "Soooo...will you be teaching this class from now on?"

After talking to fellow new teachers, these students aren't shy about expressing it to new teachers either. One student asked the new teacher what qualifications she had to teach the class! (my response would be to keep this person in triangle twice as long - ha!). The practice doesn't change just because there is a different teacher. It is the same 26 postures. I have hope that the yoga will change these students...only if they are open to it.

Of course, not all students fall into the categories above. Most are extremely focused and go to the hot room expecting to get their ass kicked and handed to them. I like these students. Bikram Yoga is all about giving 110% effort in each posture to the best of your body's ability. What you put in is what you get out of it. That's why I love the yoga. Each class is always challenging, both mentally and physically.