What happens when the feedback isn't as great? Does it mean you're a terrible teacher and need to find a new career fast? Well, sometimes, it can feel like that. I recently had the discomfort of hearing feedback I wasn't expecting, everything was going so well. I felt deflated, pissed off, really pissed off, sad; I started questioning my skills… My mind raced through a roller coaster of emotions; it's not always easy to get off that ride.
Could that morning class have been more challenging? Sure. Throw in a couple flashy arm balances, an inversion or two; there is certainly a place and a time for those poses. That said, the beauty of Yoga is that it doesn't require contorting into advanced poses to find a challenge. There is beauty in the simplicity of the practice and staying present in that simplicity is a challenge in itself. Take Tadasana, the simplest of poses, yet the hardest. Legs fired up, four corners of the feet rooting down, shoulders wide on the back, the subtlety of the breath, the soft gaze… Yet just as soon as it is yours to grasp, it eludes you and the work begins all over again.
Would an Om or reading a passage from the Sutras or the Baghavad Gita have better set the scene? Sacred as Om and the ancient texts are, it is also important to know who is walking into the class, their experience of the practice and the energy they bring with them. While Om is a fantastic way to drop people in, it can creep students out too, especially those newer to Yoga. When this is the case, perhaps focusing on the asanas and the breath may be what keep those students coming back until they are ready to dive in a little deeper.
What makes a powerful class that will resonate with students? The answer is different for every teacher and every student and is always evolving. This is not the last time I will hear less than glorious feedback, but the experience has taught me a few things. First, give yourself a break! Second, be receptive - which is just freaking hard - process and digest; then let it go, wiping the slate clean. I was anxious to teach my next class after what had happened: would I be enough? But as soon as we all settled onto our mats I felt more grounded and the next 75 minutes helped me rinse out what remained of the negative energy that had built up within me and reset my attitude. Last is to stand in my own truth, trusting that I am easing the students' experience; and, moving out of my comfort zone, compromising where possible, yet not forcing anything that isn't happening organically. That in itself is Om.