I had a teaching moment recently; one that I’ve had before. It’s the one in which you’re teaching a class and you just feel like things are “off.” You can’t put your finger on it. You’ve been teaching for years, you know what you’re doing but things just feel heavy. Little things get under your skin. You start to have conversations with yourself about the perceived energy level in the room. You start to make assumptions about whether or not the students are enjoying themselves.
In this situation, you can:
2. Get angry
3. Give up
Now, you know that none of these options make sense. So, what CAN you do?
I’ve found that in these situations, there are a few techniques that can help:
Keep moving forward. The worst thing you can do is slow down, change the sequence or start to add in all sorts of fancy poses. Just stay on track.
Stop assuming. Stop reading people’s expressions and assuming the worst. Chances are the class they’re taking is totally different from the one you’re experiencing in your head.
Don’t listen to that mental chatter. It’s hard but just turn off your focus on the voices in your head. That negative self talk just gets in the way of your teaching.
Breathe with the class. Stay connected to your own breath, just as they are on their mats.
Smile. As appropriate, smile (note: I don’t mean to all of a sudden look like a Mad Scientist). When you hear someone talk who is smiling, you can tell they are. There’s a softness to their voice. Try it.
Relax your body. In times such as this, it’s easy to get stressed and take that feeling on in your body. Relax your shoulders, face and hands. Let your body be loose. This will allow you to appear to flow even though you might feel stressed.
Just as every time you come into a yoga pose, it’s different from the last time you were in the posture, the same holds true for teaching. You can teach the same class over and over but of course, it will always be different. Shake these awkward times off and have faith in your skill as a teacher.