Prompt: What surprised you this year?
I didn’t have to think too hard about this one. It came to me pretty quickly. I am surprised how comfortable I’ve become with teaching, specifically yoga.
There’s a history here. As an introvert and a highly sensitive person, teaching is an extreme sport. I quit one of my first teaching jobs 15 years ago because I made myself so anxious I couldn’t sleep, so nervous I could barely eat, so upset I was making myself physically ill. I was a graduate teaching assistant at CSU, my first year of graduate school, teaching my own section of our “first year” composition course. Every student who graduates from CSU has to take this course, so it’s not limited to English majors or even people who particularly like reading or writing. It was a tough crowd. I was adjusting to the rigor of my life as a student while at the same time trying to figure out what I was supposed to be doing as a teacher. By the end of the semester, I convinced myself I just couldn’t do it and I quit.
That’s a long story short version of what happened. More long story short, I eventually went back to teaching at CSU and was able to find my way, find my teaching voice. Interestingly enough, the most important thing I had to do was BE MYSELF. In particular: smart, compassionate, and funny. I also learned to have good boundaries and set clear but reasonable expectations.
Ultimately a university classroom isn’t the best fit for what I have to offer, which brings us to now — teaching yoga, as well as workshops that are a combination of yoga, meditation, and wild writing. Teaching yoga is something I never really thought I’d do much, even as I was doing teacher training. I thought I’d be too nervous, too self-conscious about the limitations of my body, too uncomfortable about my weight. Thankfully, that’s turned out not to be true. My weight and limitations have actually been an asset — I’ve become more accepting of myself, and better able to cue modifications for my students, empowering them to become their own teacher. I still have a lot to learn, but what I am doing feels natural, like an embodiment of who I am and what I know.