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I can't tell you how many students I've spoken to who have taken a teacher training who simply do not end up teaching yoga because they are so scared to make mistakes that they feel too vulnerable in the seat of a teacher.When I speak to these folks, I always like to remind them that teaching yoga is a practice, just like your physical asana practice. One does not become a sensational yoga teacher without a ton of mistakes and mishaps along the way.
Here are a few mistakes I've made in my first few years of teaching yoga.
1. I touched someone who didn't want to be touched
I started off class with a bang, I verbally offered hands on adjustments and said for those who do not want any to simply raise their hand, and immediately in the left corner, a woman raised her hand. Mentally I thought this information entered my brain but when it came to our cool down section I gave her a deep pigeon adjustment, which is quite an intrusive and intense assist.
When in doubt, apologize! We all make mistakes (cliche, but true), but students will like you more if you admit it than if you don't acknowledge your faux pas.
2. I knocked someone over
This was during one of my first yoga classes I ever taught. I went to give a woman an assist in a wide legged forward fold. I leaned her way too far over and knocked her right off her mat. I was horribly mortified. I apologized after for killing her vibe in class. Thankfully she was empathetic and ended up being totally cool about it.
3. I forgot my sequence
I always write my sequences out and have them at my mat in case I needed a cheat sheet. For some reason this day was different, in the middle of class my mind went blank. Absolute radio silence. I stumbled and fumbled with words, and then just made a bunch of stuff up on the fly. Most of my students didn't even notice my blood-pumping anxiety in my voice and the rest of them didn't care. And I lived to tell the tale.
It's okay to make up your sequence as you go. Sometimes it's actually better that way because, in the heat of the moment, you can choose poses and flows that meet the needs of the students standing in front of you, without worrying about whether or not you've stuck to the "script."
And remember: when in doubt, drop them into child's pose to give yourself a moment to think!
4. I called someone by the wrong name
So this didn't happen just once but was an on going occurrence. I called someone the wrong name for a good month. I think he was just as awkward as I am that it took him a long time to finally correct me.
If you have a weakness like this--or discover it by finding yourself in an awkward situation like mine--don't be afraid to say so. Students will respect you more for it.
5. I passed gas on my manager's face
This one took the cake of embarrassment. There were two students on opposite ends of the room, one of them being a manager of the studio. While in savasana I squatted down to give her a neck and shoulder massage and farted, literally on her face. I mean there were very few people I could try to blame that on. I cried a little on my car ride home.