I could feel a tickle in my nose and tears threaten to prick my eyes - criticism is always difficult to hear. As a newer teacher, I take feedback to heart and I want to hear it, it’s information that can serve to improve my classes thus helping my students, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to digest. Each class is new and different and equally as scary as the last. I put everything I have into teaching and sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t - and it sucks when it doesn’t. All of my training has come from the same studio in the same city, so it is fairly specifically stylized. When I think of my time at Pure Yoga I am filled with intense fondness and nostalgia for the community of supportive teachers and fellow teachers-in-training - it is my home and my yoga 'normal'. Perhaps NYC had an even greater effect on my training than first assumed - a city filled with yogis who want their classes delivered in a package complete with intense physical movement, inspiring philosophical nuggets, all in tune with the perfect playlist. My 200-hour training enabled me to teach a flowy, energetic, Vinyasa-style class and I went on to focus in on additional trainings in Yin, Yoga Nidra, Meditation, and Ayurveda. That is the yoga that I love and that I practice on my own mat - it feels the most authentic to me.
I am in the middle of attempting to bring my NYC-style of training to the Stockholm yoga market. I have had some missteps and it has been an ego-checking, trial by fire, ongoing, learning process. I am also subbing classes for the first time which presents an entire new set of difficulties. As a student, I understand that your heart sinks a little when you do not get the teacher you expected to lead you through your regularly scheduled program - the subbing teacher is immediately and easily compared to another person's voice and style. To overly generalize, yoga in Stockholm is slower paced, with mellow music, and soft voices. It is so different from what I am used to expecting from my favorite studios in NYC - Pure Yoga and Laughing Lotus mainly. How do I conform to this new style of yoga without completely changing who I am as a teacher?
I spent most of Friday night fighting back tears (some moments were more successful than others) wondering what the hell I am doing here, in a foreign country, trying to teach yoga. In my head, I was racing through each class I taught recently wondering if everything I thought I had done well had been totally off the mark. Was my voice and my tone completely wrong? Were the sequences too fast? Should I delete that hip-hop song from my playlist? Once I realized this ego-driven, self-bashing party I was having for myself, I only started to feel worse -- I was dissolving into the kind of behavior that yoga and meditation strives so hard to distance us from. I felt like a yoga fraud.
After some time, distance, and long conversations with Peppe and then my family, my confidence has started to slowly trickle back in. I believe in the yoga and I still have the desire to want to share the love and inspiration that I have received through the practice to other people. Teaching abroad has been harder in ways that I didn’t foresee and I am still struggling to find my place as a teacher in Stockholm, and I imagine I will for some time, but I am willing to fight the good fight. It’s hard, it isn’t always pretty, and it is quite often awkward - but it is so, very worth it.