Seeing the Good: On Becoming a Teacher
Overcoming Fear Leads to Joy
Today I want to share about my work of becoming a children’s yoga teacher—because I’m starting to realize that I am here now. I am doing it. It’s happening!
I could write about outdoor Pre-Grounded yoga that works, why you should teach professional development yoga for pre-school teachers, sweet family classes on Saturday afternoons with mamas and daughters holding hands in Savasana, weaving in story, how to overcome the naysayers and teach 0-3, how to rock a library story time—the few sweet successes I’ve experienced so far. This is what you would expect me to write about—Amanda Hendricks, M.A., Ashtangi grant writer, almost Certified Grounded Teacher.
But I want to write about my work—the discomforts of becoming a children’s yoga teacher. Discomforts, lessons, and growing pains—the real highlights of my first year teaching children’s yoga. I don’t want to forget them. I want to remember the discomfort I felt when:
- I showed up to teach my family series week after week even when no families came because it was the wrong month and the wrong time, or no one wanted to come, or who knows why;
- Over 20 kids showed up to my summer camp and I didn’t have enough mats for all of them, but I let them come in anyway;
- A boy wanted to draw weapons for his “what makes my heart melt” art project and I got flustered and really didn’t know what to say but let him draw it anyway;
- I emptied my living room on Wednesdays to teach my friends’ children;
- I was struggling to find my authenticity and wasn’t sure how to find it;
- Kids hit each other before Savasana, argued with each other during Savasana, and I wasn’t sure what to do; and then, one day, finally….
- I came home from a class NOT thinking, “Amanda, you shouldn’t have let that happen today, you should have known what to say to help them focus.” But, instead, my heart said, “Yes! Amanda, you have more work to do now! Thank goodness.”
The little moments. The growing pains of being a new teacher—the growing pains of opening to something new. Because even opening to something new and wonderful, like my dream of teaching yoga to children that started on the seaside in Kerala many years ago, can still be hard. It must be hard. All the best things are.
Even meant-to-be-things take hard work and dedication to grow and blossom. Even though I’ve found my path, the journey is still challenging. It is hard work to stay inspired and dedicated—to trek back to Staples, 4-year-old in tow, and print more flyers. To change, flow, and adapt when you are trying a new teaching environment, or when something that was working suddenly stops working. Will I get discouraged? Maybe. Will I quit? Never. I’m here now. This is my heart. And I have my own Ashtanga practice to thank for that—the poses that I want to run from or skip…but my teacher says, “No take Garbha Pindasana again.” Again! Ah! Yes, again. Take it again. And don’t forget to breathe.
If you are a new teacher, alone in a city with not enough Grounded teachers like me—yes please Philadelphia needs you! Listen to your heart. Listen to the part of you that knows this is the way. It is whispering and sometimes it is yelling. Sometimes it gets tired and shuts up, but it’s still there. I cannot remove Garbha Pindasana from the Primary Series of Ashtanga Yoga. I would like to, but I cannot. It is there to teach me something and so are the challenges and mistakes of the early days of teaching—and all the days of teaching for that matter. I am trying on my training and making it my own. This work needs to be done—and the work of beginnings isn’t easy for people like me who like to get it right every time, especially the first time. This is humbling, empowering work. It is all at once perfectly comfortable and intensely uncomfortable. You cannot circumnavigate errors and pitfalls. We need those imperfections to make us better and to make our classes the vibrant, emanating works of folk art that they are. We need to mess up. We need to do poses we don’t like. That’s how we learn. That’s how children learn.
This is what I wrote on my self-reflection forms, to remind myself that it’s okay to make mistakes. After listing 5 things I am grateful for about the class, I list the dreaded mistake and what I hope to learn from it. And then I read my reminder.
Every class is handmade like a quilt. When it is handmade it is filled with love. “Mistakes” make it handmade—mechanical perfection erases love. Leave the love in. Love your “mistakes.” They are the crooked stitch—the chance to show your humanness—the chance to grow and practice gratitude—the part that says “a loving, living, breathing person made this class for you.” Let your classes be handmade, homemade works of folk art. Nervous means you care. Be gentle with yourself. Think about your hands in Chataranga Dandasana. Breathe. Ground them down into the earth. You are Worthy of Love!
Actually, that is what my name means in Latin. Amanda—worthy of love. I remind myself this every day. I am worthy of my practice and I am worthy of the title of teacher.
Here is my prayer for my journey:
May I always have something to learn.
May there always be work to be done.
May I always care as deeply as I do now.
May I always have something to give.
Suggested reading: It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr
Suggested listening: Just Because it’s Different Doesn’t Mean it’s Scary by Yo Gabba Gabba! Don’t Ever Give Up by Moona Loona