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  • Ryan Manning

Teaching My First Yoga Class

One look at me and Yoga would be the last thing on your mind. I’ve attempted Yoga routines at home, using a combination of YouTube and common sense to feel relaxed and stretched. I teach various fitness classes with some Yoga-like stretches at the end. The classes are normally a higher intensity, utilizing squats, lunges, bicep curls, and such. A soft-voiced hour isn’t really my thing. Here’s a quick summary and hopefully you see that you can teach anything if you’re willing to try.

Our normal Yoga instructor had a vacation and couldn’t find a sub. In an act of desperation, she turned to me. I informed her that I’ve never taught Yoga or stretching for more than five minutes. She had faith, however, and inspired me to go ahead with it. Luckily for me, and the people taking the class, she gave me her class notes so I wasn’t totally in the dark.

Due to legalese, we couldn’t call it Yoga. We settled on “Morning Stretch”, a far more accurate description of how I would attempt to teach any Yoga class anyways … a stretch. While looking up the various moves of Yoga, I found myself learning more than I can imagine. Simply being mindful of your breathing is an incredible skill to have in your repertoire, especially while performing strenuous exercises. Many of us are programmed to hold our breath during difficult exercises or activities. This will raise your blood pressure and deprive your muscles of oxygen, ensuring that your next couple of days will be filled with soreness.

Back to the actual class, I set up a relaxing acoustic soundtrack and kicked my shoes off – furiously soaking them in Lysol to mitigate the stench. I had three brave women attend and we sat in an oblong-ellipsis and started by sitting in a cross-legged fashion with our eyes closed. For the first quarter of the class, we stayed in that position. It started with breathing exercises, lengthening the spine, and getting into the stretching mood.

Having an hour of stretching is intimidating to teach, especially like a novice like myself. We moved into a warrior pose – a plank into a standing split stance that utilizes balance and core strength. I’m used to similar exercises like split squats but maintaining the position without doing an active exercise really tested my balance. I was surprised to find beads of sweat running down my cheeks. Stretching sounds easy but in practice it surely isn’t.

The real Yoga instructor’s notes had a guided meditation to end everything. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with that. We ended class sitting in the dark without saying a word, letting the calming music take over. I end all my classes congratulating and giving my clients a round of applause for doing an awesome job. This was no different, although the volume was toned down appropriately.

I felt calm and in control throughout the rest of my day and I attribute this to, not only teaching/ taking a Yoga class, but the fact that I tried something new and challenged myself. It was a wonderful way to start the day and I can’t thank the three ladies who joined me on this fitness journey. Time goes fast for so many of us. Days, months, and years seem to fly by before we have the chance to truly enjoy it. I can’t recall where I heard this but to slow down our perception of time, we need to try new things. Our brains are so adept at getting us through our normal routines that sometimes we must help it slow down. I am an advocate for trying Yoga and fitness classes, especially if you are looking for a structured routine to keep you engaged and honest with yourself. Even if that’s not your thing, I strongly advocate for everyone to try something new as much as you want or can. Not only will you make yourself more interesting, you will slow time down enough to help eliminate the feeling of time passing you by. Thank you for reading and stay awesome friends.

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