Santosha and teaching my first class
by Annie Carlin
Santosha, for those of you who don’t know, means “contentment” in Sanskrit. Santosha can be a difficult concept for me to grasp given my inclination towards anxiety and achievement. As usual, though, I get smacked in the face with these principles at opportune moments in my yoga practice and teaching. It’s one of the things I like best
about yoga – ideas like santosha are not abstract – in fact, they can be more real than you might appreciate at times.
Case in point: my first official group yoga class where I got paid in money instead of baked goods.
When I agreed to teach a plus-size yoga class series at a yoga studio here in Maryland, I expressed concern about being pigeon-holed into just teaching plus-size yoga. I explained that I could also teach general classes and wanted to encourage larger-bodied yogis to take whatever class they wanted (and could safely handle, of course). I commented that I thought it was important to show students that yoga teachers of all shapes and sizes had something to offer. Luckily, the yoga director at the studio was very supportive of my ideas and offered the opportunity to teach a community class (usually a lower-cost class to encourage greater access to yoga in the community) and promised to put me on the sub-list for general classes as well.
My first community class was yesterday evening and I was only a little bit excited (okay, a lot). I promoted the heck out of it – bombarding my friends and colleagues with announcements and entreaties to come to my first ever official studio class. I begged, I pleaded and then worried, sure that I had sold out my first class and worried that my poor put-upon friends wouldn’t get in. I wrote a sequence, tested the sequence and revised it when one of my blocks flew across the room during a transition. I told everyone who would listen to me how awesome the class would be. I knew at least a couple of my friends were planning to show up, but I wondered who else would be there and came up with several contingencies depending on the kinds of students I might get. I wondered if I would be able to manage a full room of students at different levels with different needs.
I think you can probably predict where this is going, but it turns out that August is a pretty slow month for yoga studios and the only people who showed up were my two friends (which means if I hadn’t promoted it, no one would have come! So be prepared for more bombarding, people!). I have to admit, my initial reaction was disappointment. And I think my friends felt bad…But then I got over myself and I realized that, a. I finally got to teach these particular friends some yoga and, b. the pressure was totally off! There was that pesky santosha, telling me to relax and have fun. The class went off without a hitch and I didn’t have to try to maintain my composure as my attempt to teach my friends headstand prep resulted in fits of giggles from all sides.
As I told my parents and boyfriend about the class, they expressed some disappointment on my behalf, which I appreciated. But then I realized that I actually wasn’t disappointed at all, and that I am so lucky to have such awesome friends and family supporting me in my yoga teaching endeavors. I’m content with my first studio teaching experience and eager to teach more. Even if my friends are the only ones who ever show up, I know now that by practicing santosha, it’ll be awesome nonetheless.
NEWBIE chronicles the journey of a new yoga teacher. From teacher training to building a business, follow Annie Carlin as she details the highs and lows of finding her place amidst one of the worlds oldest practices.