TEACHING JOURNAL

 

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FIRST CLASS

Well, no one died.

I taught my first class this afternoon, Monday, at 4:30, at the La Canada studio, just north of Glendale, a few miles east of the Oakwood Apartments. Rose, the woman who owns La Canada, and who came and did a posture clinic with some of us, has to be one of the most generous people around. She gave Denny, Adam and I all our first classes and all in the same day. Rose is also an amazing teacher they should have had teach our group of 300. The three of us, along with Ingrid, went to her class Sunday afternoon to talk to her, see her teach and learn how the studio works. She is an amazing example of someone who sticks about as close to the dialogue as one can imagine, and yet still made the class and the dialogue completely her own. She was warm, friendly, encouraging – and hard! All four of us felt it was one of the hardest classes we had taken since Week One. Maybe we were all just sore as hell, I don’t know, but it was tough. Yet great. If you ever have a chance to take her class…

Anyway, Denny taught early this morning at 6:30 AM. Nancy and Carey were great friends and went to his class, which of course, given it was Denny, went very well. Then I taught at 4:30 PM and Adam at 8:00 PM. Denny and Nancy also came to my class – they did not know Adam was teaching later that night, as he was originally going to teach Tuesday. He ended up teaching Monday night. Having roomed together throughout the training and come to be such close friends, it was pretty awesome for Adam and I to be able to teach almost back to back (there was a 6:15 PM class in between) and take each other’s first classes. There was much high-fiving and wine drinking back at the homestead when it was all done.

Adam also did great, of course...although I have to say, Adam, even Emmy doesn’t hold Triangle that long, for goodness sake. I did fine. If you haven’t yet taught your first class, here’s the thing: you just have to let go of your own ego, know you won’t in any way be the teacher you want to be, the teacher you know you will soon be, and just get through the damn thing.

It was not nearly as difficult to teach in the heat as I expected. Which is not to say I didn’t sweat like a pig. I was about as drenched by the end as I usually am when I take class, which is a lot. But I didn’t notice it too much and it didn’t affect my voice. (Be sure to have plenty of water on hand, though.) One thing I know that helped me was that I ran a mock class on my own this afternoon before I went to the studio. I went through the class and taught the first set of each posture without looking at the dialogue. It was at times rough. Then, before I did the second set, I reviewed the dialogue to see what I missed, which was, yikes!, a lot. But doing it that way helped me remember some things I would have forgotten and the class went smoother because of it. Which is not to say I was anywhere near flawless at the dialogue. Some postures went very well, some, well, I was flailing, But you just have to keep going, you don’t stop, and somehow you get them in and out.

I had 22 people in the class and, yes, one beginner…who not only had never done Bikram but had also never done Yoga period. She actually did amazingly well. It wasn’t so much overwhelming to have that many people to teach but strange. And while it was cool to see all those people in the room (it is not a large studio) I really was not able to focus too much on the people specifically, save the new girl who I talked to a few times. I was just trying to make it through. It was obvious when someone was doing something very wrong, but it will take some time, with a class that large, to catch smaller, more subtle mistakes.

I had a few obvious gaffes… once on Triangle I forgot to tell them to put their arms over their heads before stepping out (this seems to be happening to a few people). I also made a timing mistake: I thought we were supposed to get into Savasana at 55 minutes. But at that time, apparently you should be at the end of Wind Removing. So I went steady and got to Savasana at 55 minutes, and felt good, but then in the middle of the Cobra series I realized something was wrong and that I was behind. I tried my best to speed up without it seeming too fast and without cutting the 20 second Savasanas. I ended at about 94 minutes, which in general wasn’t too bad but I am sure some of the floor postures took a hit in terms of being too short.  I also felt I flailed particularly badly in Spine Twist. The dialogue just would not come out, probably because I was running late. But the class went about as smoothly as I could expect, I guess, and although I am not sure I could say it was ‘fun’, it was satisfying. I just want to get better and much more precise, particularly after seeing Rose’s class last night.

Another nice thing that happened was that Hobey, who some of you may know from the headquarters, teaches at La Canada and was the teacher who sat in on both Adam's and my classes. If you don’t know Hobey, you would recognize him, as he was around a lot during the training: he is tall, lean, lots of hair (loser); he was in the advanced class when we saw it, on the far left side of that group by La Cienega. Get this: he teaches 21 classes a week and takes 12! Just today, Monday, he took the advanced class, which meant he also took the 10:45 AM beginners’ class before it, as they are required to do. Then he took my class, taught the 6:15, and then took Adam’s class as well. The guy is a yogi stud. He was great to both of us, was very encouraging and gave each of us very good and helpful notes. I am so appreciative of him.

A couple of other random things from the class: First, I sat down on the podium, as many teachers do, during Wind Removing, to see what it was like, wondering if I might stay that way during the floor series. I got up after about 20 seconds, as I could tell it was just sucking my energy out of me. I say don’t do it; I know I will never sit down again, at least not for a long while. The class was not tiring, though, and by the end I was energized more than enervated. It did not seem as if I were standing and moving and talking for 90 minutes straight. Also, I know we heard a lot about this, but I was not prepared for just how tired and awful the students began to look. As we ended the Cobra series, part of me really wanted just to end the class early and tell everyone to go get in a Jacuzzi. They looked miserable. And I definitely got the evil eye over and over from one woman in the class…that was a blast (grin). I tended to look more at the bodies than the faces, which was a help, though I am not sure that is entirely a good thing. We’ll see how that progresses.

Anyway, that was my first day. I am glad it is over. And I am interested to try the next one.

If anyone has any questions, email me. Thanks for reading.

tomprovost@khartoumfilms.com