May 11, 2008

Intro to Yoga Assisting

I assisted E (a new teacher at the studio) doing an Intro to Yoga class Saturday afternoon. Kevin and I assisted Shankara last month; but Shankara is pretty self-sufficient (also, his Intro to Yoga classes are fairly creative and unconventional) - so this was a better opportunity to do a bit of assisting of more classical postures.

Since Emily is new to the studio, she was not really familiar with the housekeeping stuff. Also, she ran into traffic, so the students were drifting in before she got there. It was nice to prep the room: open the windows after a hot class before hand, neaten up, put some music on. I got to talk to the students, set them up with props, get the mats arranged, etc. I felt USEFUL.

Once the class started, I bounced between demo'ing postures (front of the room or among the students), working with individual students, and fetching props. I found myself drawn to the students who seemed to be struggling the most, offering modifications either one-on-one or simply demonstrating a gentler option to help them get into postures. I think my own encounters with body size and limited flexibility in my own practice help me a lot there. But I got a couple of good assists in with some of the other students - a few down dogs pulled into alignment, and even a Barbara-ish "press the balls of your feet into my hands" during core work.

Savasana was pretty great - just to see a room full of students sink into the earth. A couple of "new to yoga, nervous and tense" students, and it was nice to just soften their legs, flip over their hands, and help them settle into relaxation. In some ways, I just felt very in tune to the energy in the room.

E led a pretty straight-forward practice, so nothing new for me to try to figure out myself. (Always kind of embarassing when the assistant gets more confused than the students!) And the students seemed really excited and happy afterwards; I hung out for a while and chatted about different class options and teachers.

This was a great experience; it really helped me to feel comfortable working with students, moving through the room, etc. without having the pressure of teaching. I tend to "wade in slowly" into new experiences and challenges, and this kind of assisting was a really good in between step for me. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to work with students like this, I am also grateful to have had the chance to observe my fellow teacher trainees assist during last month's student teaching class - it was so inspiring and helpful to me.

Afterwards, E said I could assist anytime (I think having an assistant in the room was something new to her and she enjoyed it) so I guess I didn't stink up the place ::heh heh:: Seriously, it was reassuring to work with someone completely new (I have yet to practice with her) and feel competant enough to connect.

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