Greetings from the land of Oz! 28 is a special number for me – not only did I just finish writing my 28th post but I also taught 28 classes in the month of December. Can you believe it? Just after graduating from teacher training six short weeks ago I’ve managed to teach 28 classes ranging from 6 – 24 students per class in one short month! I’ve been so lucky to be welcomed into the Bikram Yoga Community here in Melbourne. Everyone has been so friendly and the feedback I have received has been nothing but absolutely constructive. Let’s talk about the classes –

So I wrote about my first class but let’s revisit that class again – I taught a 6am class in the northern Melbourne suburbs at Bikram Yoga Ascot Vale. It was my first class and I had 7 students (all regulars and pros!) who kept giving me dirty looks which is really a sign that I’m doing a great job. The more dirty looks you get in class the better job you’re doing – killing your students. That’s what you want – you want to kill them for 90 minutes so that they can live for 90 years! I was pretty nervous that first class but you know what somehow I got all the dialogue out with no problem. It just sorta came spewing out of my mouth word after word after word.

My first day teaching I taught a double and I must say that class also went pretty well – I was still an absolute ball of nerves but I felt a bit more relaxed while up there and the support from the students was wonderful. I did freeze a bit during balancing stick. I basically forgot what to say and had everyone in the first part so their right leg was forward arms over their head and blankโ€ฆnada. But I had a chuckle to myself and just let it go and then the dialogue came rushing out of my mouth. It also helped that the owner just went right into the posture so I could see what was supposed to come next! Mind you it was probably only about 3 – 4 seconds that I froze up there but it felt like it was longer than that and the thoughts that ran across my head made it seem like it was at least 5 minutes but it was at most 5 seconds and probably more in the 1 – 2 second range.

After teaching for about 7 classes I started to feel really comfortable on the podium and started playing a bit more with the words and by that I basically mean during wind removing pose in the second set I said massaging your ascending colon (right side) and descending colon (left side) and transverse colon / intestines (both legs). Now this is a pretty big deal because I’m adding in some “additional” dialogue into the class but it’s great because it helps the students understand why they need to pull down harder and create maximum pressure in the lower abdomen.

I also started playing a bit more with my voice which has been quite fun. I was a worried about my voice because during posture clinic at training i had one of our senior teachers tell me that my voice was too high and I needed to drop my voice down to Mr. T. Uhh okay but that piece of “constructive” criticism really had me worried about how my voice sounded when I was teaching and made me a bit more conscious of it. However, once I started teaching – all of the owners told me that I had a really nice voice that was calming and made them want to work out. It also helps that people generally like me so when you have a teacher you like you’ll work harder for them! (this is a 100% true – I’ve had classes back home where I’ve felt like crap yet my favourite teacher was teaching and all of a sudden I’m a rockstar). Students have also told me that they like the sound of my voice (having an American accent probably doesn’t hurt either) and the pace that I set for class! In terms of the range for my voice – I’m making sounds to match a few of the key words in the dialogue. For example, we say push a lot (like a lot!) so when I say push – I make a pushing sound and the with stretch – I’ll “stretch” the word out while I’m tell students to streeetch their bodies down from the lower spine towards the floor. I found that when I was just simply a student it made the class more interesting when the teacher varied their voice so I’m trying it now too!

As I’ve continued to teach I’ve gotten really positive feedback from students class after class – I taught a pretty big class with around 17 students and a student from my very class came up to me after and said “Brittany I was a little worried because there were so many peopleโ€ฆbut you did a great job!” why thank you and thank you also for being worried about me! I appreciate that – my students like me and want me to succeed.

I had another student who I had on my first day also tell me that he can see that I’m getting more comfortable on the podium and I’m not just a complete bundle of nerves as I was on my first day. Granted, I’m still nervous every time I step on the podium but it’s not like it was for the first class.

Anyways, I’m super pumped to have taught 28 classes in the month of December! And I’m looking forward to teaching more in January – right now I’ve got 34 classes scheduled!!



When Am I Supposed to Practice?

I love love love teaching Bikram Yoga. A lot. It’s so great being up on the podium and seeing my students working hard through the heat and whatever other challenges that they’ve brought into the room with them but what about my practice?

During training I was taking doubles Monday – Friday and one class on Saturday. That’s 11 classes per week. 97 classes in just 9 short weeks and now that I’m teaching I’m lucky to practice three times per week. It’s not because I don’t want to practice it’s because I’m always teaching. I can’t take and teach a class. As a teacher my role is to stand on top of the podium and guide my students through their class it isn’t about me – it’s strictly about them and how they connect their body to the words that I am saying.

Most of the studios here in Melbourne are currently on a reduced holiday schedule so there are at a minimum two classes per day at a maximum three classes. If I’m teaching the classes for the day (i.e the 9:3a and the 4p or the 7p) that allows me no time to really practice myself. It’s a great start to the week when I get to practice two days in a row.

Please don’t think by any means I’m complaining – I’m just making an observation that my own practice has suffered a bit since teaching. It’s been really hard for me to find the time to actually get on the mat and be a student. I love teaching but I also need to continue to strengthen and deepen my practice. The best teachers are the teachers that practice as often as possible.

Luckily, since the holidays are starting to wind down most of the studios are coming off their reduced summer schedule and I’m able to practice a bit more. I also lucked out with not having to teach as much (I’m still teaching plenty) but not as many doubles which allows me the chance to practice more.

I had mentioned this to a student that gave me a ride to the tram (Thanks!) and she had said that was one of the reasons that she didn’t want to go to training because once you become a teacher it is hard to find the balance for practice and teaching. I couldn’t imagine how my practice would suffer if I still had my full-time corporate job. I would never be able to find the time to practice!

I found a solution for allowing me to practice in between my doubles – it was a suggestion from one of my studio owners. I had mentioned that I was going to go for a run and she said why don’t you just practice after class has finished? It had never dawned on me that I could put in the Bikram CD (okay, really it’s on an iPod) and press play – and lo and behold it’s the boss’ voice over the speakers yelling at me to lock my elbows, chin up, upper body back and push and push and push. Honestly since I’ve started practicing with the recorded voice of Bikram I have felt amazing. I never thought that I would actually miss how he teaches (and training!) but I do. When I take that class it puts me right back into the yoga bubble, I can practically smell the funkiness of the yoga room in Thailand and it makes me happy! I actually find myself talking aloud to him when he’s asking question – shouting “Yes I’m ready” for a posture or whatever else he says or laughing when he talks about Indian Marriage (no choice!).

The fact that I’m practicing with this tape has helped to reinforce how much I absolutely love love this yoga and the power that it has to change my life on the mat and the podium.

I’m so lucky that I get to spend 90 minutes teaching and practicing every day for the rest of my life!