Last week I had the very great pleasure of reconnecting with one of my favorite teachers, and was thrilled to be able to hit the mat as Baron Baptiste guided my practice once again.
It was more than a few years ago when I signed up for a week-long immersion with Baron, entitled Teacher's Revolution. I knew I needed some kind of revolutionary kick in my butt, because even though I had been teaching for a while, my sparsely attended classes seemed to be a testament to my lack of confidence and abilities.
I remember being completely intimidated by all the yoga teachers in the room. They each seemed so strong in every way, while all I felt was inadequate in every way. But after the third 10-hour day of INTENSE practice, in-depth theory, and hands-on instruction, a strange thing started to happen: My ego became exhausted and I actually began to let go of my attachment to what I could or couldn't do, and, best of all, started to embrace my strengths. I remember riding the subway home feeling giddy and energized and renewed. By day four, I mustered up the courage to ask Baron about what I could/should do as a teacher, to deal with a particularly challenging student. I whined about how "she said this and asked me that...blah, blah, blah." He had been listening intently, and I expected him to provide some magical insight that would, at last, help me to put her in her place. Instead he looked into my eyes and said, "When you're ready to take your seat as a teacher, your students will listen." I was stunned, and more than a little embarrassed. I had to dig deep to keep from crying. But that evening, as I rode the F train home, I realized that Baron was exactly right; not believing in my ability as a teacher had been broadcasting self-doubt to each and every student.
I learned a lot about myself, yoga, and teaching after seven days with Baron, and very soon my own teaching began to blossom. I began to rely on my instincts instead of notes, and tapped into the hearts of my students for inspiration. I felt truly happy after every practice. In just a few months my classes were filling up, and my students were happy and healthy. I had finally been able to take my seat as a teacher, and found it to be welcoming as well as comfortable.
After this week's class, I related my story to Baron as he smiled broadly. "That's really great Rita," he said, "I can see how much you love to teach. I feel the passion." "I've always wanted to thank you for that advice," I replied. "You helped me face my fears, and have faith in myself."
"Whatever happened to that student?" he asked.
"Oh that's an interesting story. One day after class she thanked me, and said that I had inspired her to become a teacher. And now she subs for me!"
"That's pretty cool," said Baron.
"Yeah it is. And she's a really good teacher too!"
Don't be afraid to shine...