BY DONNA PHILLIPS, TYS TT Trainee

TYS Teacher Training – 2nd Weekend
I intuitively knew this one was going to be tough. The “middles” of worthwhile endeavors always are. Introductions and discussions of dreams, goals and ideas are past, the framework is set in place, and the really hard forging ahead has begun. We heard “beginning days” stories from several of the best, most seasoned TYS teachers. Without exception, they all had raw, vulnerable, excruciating memories to share from their first teaching experiences.

On one hand, it’s very comforting to know that even they had struggles and fails, and were able to overcome them with great success. On the other hand, when you know that’s what is coming your way, your mind begins to invent all kinds of excuses about why you probably made a mistake to get into teacher training in the first place. I’ve learned through some counseling this year, that the mind does that to try to protect you from painful challenges you’re facing, even if they are good ones.

I think I can speak for my classmates to say that we really, really wish we could figure out how to catapult ourselves to the other side without going through the hard part, but we have resigned to the fact that we just have to do it, and get through it, in order to get to where we want to go. It’s part of the process, and there is no other way. We are in. We want to learn this, and we are determined to try, and try again, until we get there… “Donna, it’s your turn. Teach us the Vitality series.”

Practice teaching was a big part of our weekend. One by one, we got called on to teach segments of the JIP sequence so we could hear our feedback, revamp, and try again. I have teenagers at my house and I have on occasion heard them use the phrase “It sucks to suck!” I don’t particularly like that word, or that phrase. However, after my second weekend of teacher training, I understand that little adage at a whole new level! You will notice that I am using that word a lot in this paragraph.

I’m really sorry, but there is just NO other word that quite describes the reality of what my cohorts and I were/are experiencing. When I teach in my head, or have visions about it, I do it so well. When I get up in front of people and actually attempt to do it out loud, it’s a different story! I’m trying to remember what pose comes next, how to transition properly, and how to cue the pose. I’m thinking about when to talk or when I’m talking too much, when to raise or lower my voice to influence the energy of the class, how to assist people who are struggling in a pose, and how to teach to those who have been doing yoga for years and those who are brand new, at the same time. After a few minutes of ALL of that, it just kind of blurs into one big tangle of “I suck at this” and I endure myself, and battle the little voice in my head that’s screaming, “Run!!!!”, until I can get back to my mat and think about how to improve it and do better the next time. After a few rounds of this, I think we all realized that we will NEVER be able to do it if we try to remember all of those things in our head. We have to practice it and study it over and over, until it becomes such a part of us that we can do it without thinking too much. It’s going to take a lot of work and repetition. But it’s worth it, because IT SUCKS TO SUCK!!

There is nothing like a little dose of humiliating reality to get you motivated. We are going to be teaching in real classes very soon. By the last day of the weekend, we were sober to the fact that if we don’t make huge progress in the very near future, it’s not going to be pretty! Consequently, I now teach yoga in the shower. I teach yoga in the car. I teach yoga while I’m folding clothes or doing dishes. My classmates and I have shared several renditions of videos, study sheets, and flip cards over the past weeks in an attempt to find a way to permanently etch this stuff into our brains and cells. I’ve created a new version of the “draw the name out of the hat” game. With the names of the eleven series of the JIP sequence written on strips of paper and tossed into a bowl, I practice reciting from memory the poses of whichever one I draw out. These things are helping, for sure.

But I know I still have a huge part of the learning curve to climb. Many things I have yet to learn can only be learned by doing; by throwing myself out there and being vulnerable to make mistakes and learn from them. I know that being afraid to fail, and not being willing to be vulnerable, make growth and success impossible. So, if I know these things, why is it so hard? Maybe the most important thing I need to learn is how to fully put myself out there to do my best, while accepting and honoring the fact that I WILL make mistakes, and they will be my best teachers. The most successful people in life do this. They make mistakes, and a lot of them. But they keep throwing themselves out there, and trying again, until they begin to rack up more successes than fails. It takes fortitude, a sense of humor, and letting go of fear and pride. May we all be brave enough to go there!

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