The glass floor

When I was in yoga teacher training, we had a very restrictive structure. There was a set number of specific asanas we had to present, and almost a set script where we had to state counter indications, modifications and benefits of each pose. I can see why a teacher training regime would have this structure, but I did find it frustratingly rigid and predictable.
Now as a teacher in my own shala, I find classes anything but predictable. I have an outline of each class worked out in my head, but I have learnt to abandon it at a moment’s notice. Instead I take as my starting point my students’ needs at that moment in that place. My sequence starts with them.
I have regular students, but every class they have different needs. Maybe there are injuries. Maybe everyone is exhausted. Maybe they are up for a challenge… I can never predict what my students’ needs will be, so each class is a surprise to me! I may have planned a vigorous class filled with sun salutations and side planks but end up teaching a restorative class where we don’t even get off the mat. But no one has left disappointed. (Or else they are really good liars.)
In my other work, both as a kindergarten teacher and a musician, I have come to realise that I can wing it and it will work. (Almost) always. Relying on intuition and inspiration taps into a magical flow where I can connect with my “audience”, whether they are music fans, yoga students or four year olds. I don’t really know how it works, but it does. Ideas always come. Inspiration is infinite and available. It just takes a little bit of courage to step out over the ravine onto that glass floor that doesn’t appear to be there. My parachute is that I can always return to something I know if the glass floor cracks. Play the chords, read a story or return to my yoga training sequence. But I almost never need that parachute. Anyway, what is the ravine under the glass floor? Nothing life threatening- just the risk of embarrassment, an awkward moment when I don’t know what to do or say. It passes.
And the payoff for that tiny bit of courage? Thirty four-year-olds completely entranced by a story I am making up on the spot- yogis looking sleepy, relaxed and renewed as they come out of śavasana- people dancing and singing as I play.
I say the risk is worth it.

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