Mentorship teaching was a very fulfilling experience. As this was my first time teaching, ever, it was a revealing, informative, and very humbling experience. When I first started, I knew it wasn’t going to be second nature but thought it would be fairly easy since I love what I’m teaching. There is so much more than the material being taught; and that’s not even taking into account everything the kids are bringing to the table. So overall, it was a very important part of my training as it showed me who I am as a yoga teacher and as a person, it showed me how kids are energy sponges – they will take on my energy very easily, so if I’m off, they respond accordingly – and it showed me how important self-care is. I’ve learned how to take some of the tools we learned in LFY Training and put them into practice – like plugging in to the kids’ energy and being aware of why they are acting a certain way. Usually, it was only an after-the-fact realisation, or Lauren, (my Mentor) would point something out that I hadn’t realised, but these are real-life experiences that I can learn from and build on.
Emotions ran pretty high as I was preparing for the classes. At first, I was more centered on the lesson plan (being so afraid to miss something or not do something right) but during the fourth class, something clicked and I taught from my gut (intuition). I let go of trying to control everything and went with what I felt was right. The next classes went very well – even the stressful bilingual class (Moon Salutation done in two languages at the same time is REALLY hard!)!
What brought me the most joy is seeing the kids enjoy the classes! The kid’s excitement built each week! It’s heartwarming to see such eagerness to learn yoga – even though they may not know how important it is for them to learn these life skills at such a young age. Their happiness would seep into the whole house and remain for a couple of days.
Nervousness and anxiousness were ever present while I was preparing for each class. I would get so nervous trying to get the words right and have everything flow properly that I would get flustered in front of the empty mats! I so wanted to make it a great experience for the kids and have them have a great experience that I would forget that I didn’t control their experiences, they did! I can only lead them through the activities; they need to embody the experiences themselves, I can’t do it for them. I found that once I rang the singing bowl and looked at the kids, any anxiety that I felt melted away. I let go of the self-imposed rigidity of the lesson plan and everything relaxed along with it.
The first couple of classes, I got caught up with trying to get everything on the plan in and would find myself getting stressed because things didn’t go as planned. There were so many stories that were being shared by the kids and a lot of talking in general going on. But during the third class, I caught on that it was a necessity for some of the kids to be heard (some are home-schooled so not around other kids a lot) so I would ask questions and really listen and found that the amount of chatting went down (by doing that, they got their needs met by being heard, and I could still have ‘control’ of the class with their stories directed at me with the other kids listening).
Successes I built on during my practice teaching would be my confidence in my intuition, feeling what the kids need, planning my classes better (though I’m still working on this one!), and feeling a sense of pride in what I’m doing. A big thing for me was the knowledge that the kids wanted to come back week after week so it made me feel like I was doing something right! I worried that maybe because the class wasn’t all poses, the kids wouldn’t enjoy it as much ... boy was I wrong! They seemed to very much enjoy every element of the class. I was able to learn from hiccups during classes and build on those and the things that went right, and I was able to improve with each class. I feel a sense of accomplishment that I’m able to learn with every class that I teach.
My personal practice, as you said in training, is very important. I can feel it when I don’t practice – though I always tell myself I have a good excuse not to practice: no time, chores to do, I’ll be interrupted, no downtime/me-time, etc. But I’ve come to realise that if I don’t make it a priority, it shows in my life. I need to stop feeling guilty for making the time for my practice – it’s not frivolous, it’s essential! I’ve seen and felt the difference. Also, it makes me aware of what some of the activities that I want to do with the kids feel like in my body. Even though I may practice the lesson plan ahead of time, it’s good to know how things feel even without doing them as I’m planning the classes. I need to be in touch with my own body, my own experience, my own mind, my own practice in order to help and teach the kids. I know that and I’m working on making it a priority.
Also, Lauren, my Training Mentor, has been an indispensable tool in my learning! Her advice and support has been key to my mentorship. Her knowledge and wisdom were very much appreciated during this whole process; I looked forward to reading her feedback after every class as I knew it would contain very helpful advice, thoughtful considerations, and amazing encouragement. I loved her soft but strong voice that came through her messages. I’m very grateful for her support throughout my mentorship!