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My Worst Yoga-Teaching Fear Came True


My worst fear teaching a vinyasa yoga class happened last weekend. Vinyasa is a Sanskrit word that means arrangement, or configuration, and vinyasa classes typically have sequences of a couple of poses on one side before switching over to do them on the other side of the body. Oftentimes these classes are a little more cardiovascular in nature because there is more constant, dynamic movement than a class where the poses are held for longer periods of time.

I decided I was going to challenge myself and teach longer vinyasa sequences during this particular class. Normally, I do two, maybe three poses on a side and then switch and do the other side. I do this because at one point some of my teachers taught me that these long sequences were not good for people’s bodies because they burn them out. I accepted this aversion and used it to justify that I really was just afraid I would lose my place if I did too many poses in a row before evening up the two sides. However, this group looked quite fit and clearly wanted a challenge, so I took the challenge to stretch myself too.

So here I am, thinking I’m all cool because I’ve got these people 7 poses deep on a side, and then I move onto the next sequence of 6 poses, and now my head is really inflated – until I realize I’ve forgotten to do the other side on the 7-pose sequence, and was already doing the second side on the next sequence.

Yikes. I thought to myself, “How the hell are you going to fix this?”

To make matters worse, my class was keeping track too. Just after I realized I’d gotten lost, an older woman in the front of class looked at me and motioned a pose that we’d left out on the other side. I winked back, all cool, and smiled. Luckily, I remembered all the poses I’d left off and figured out a way to get them all back in. Those students who have discomfort with asymmetry would get themselves back on track, and no one would have a sore left gluteus maximus on one side without the other one getting sore too.

Shortly after I started the missing sequence, I said, “Some of you guys thought I’d forgotten about this side, didn’t you?” I chuckled, and said, “I was just trying to confuse you.”

I was lying. So much for satya, the Sanskrit word for truthfulness.

A minute later, a different older woman in the front of class asked me to turn down the music, which I did (a smidge, just to make her happy, but not so low that I would piss off most of the other students, who actually like music in class). Apparently some people were focused on something other than my screwing up. I wondered how many people actually noticed I’d forgotten to even them up.

It reminded me of the time I spent doing improv classes, and I suspected that if I never took those classes, I wouldn’t have been able to get the class back on track as smoothly as I did. It made me think of all the other times in my life where I lost my place, got stuck and made a mess, and I was overjoyed to be able to move on from this little ”ta-da” moment without beating myself up or getting paralyzed.

And the little white lie I told… I’ll leave it up to other people to say whether it was right or wrong…


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