I am not the greatest yoga teacher. Don’t get me wrong, I am good, maybe even great, but I am not the greatest. This can be disheartening at times. It can be hard to stand up in front of the class and feel you should be an expert, the one who knows the most. As a new teacher, I remember freezing up multiple times in a class where I was introduced to one of the students as a fellow teacher at that studio. It was terrifying. Who was I to be talking about any of these things? What do I even know?
These thoughts reared their ugly little heads once again this past month as I advertised and taught my first solo handstand workshop. I was nervous to advertise the workshop where it could be seen by my teacher friends. What if they called me out? Am I just a fraud? I can’t do any fancy handstand splits or presses. I became fixated on everything I can’t do. I began to believe I was nothing but an imposter.
M.B.OM, one of my new podcast obsessions, recently tackled Imposter Syndrome as a new teacher. Amanda Kingsmith shared 7 tips for overcoming this feeling of not being good enough. Many were tips that my teachers shared with us during our training, the most common and the one that always sticks out is “Fake it until you make it.” This has helped me many times. My favorite tip she gave was “Acknowledging where you are at with yourself and your students.” Basically, be honest. Don’t pretend you know everything, but own what you do know.
As I prepared for my workshop, I looked through a few videos and articles to dig for anything I might be missing. I realized that I knew most of the things pointed out. It finally dawned on me, I know what the hell I’m doing. I have practiced handstand for four years. I have attended workshops, I have researched it, I have felt the progress in my body. I also know my students. Only one person attending the workshop was unfamiliar to me. It comforted me that my students desired this workshop. They wanted to learn just as much as I had, and they trusted me to guide them through it.
So I walked into the workshop with confidence, bolstered by nerves and years of knowledge. I sat down with my students and said, “I am not the best yogi ever at executing handstand, but I know how it works and I know how to stay safe. Let’s have fun.” Handstand is not a necessary part of a yoga practice. It is flashy and fun and really really hard. People enjoy working on it for the challenge it poses. I practice it because I can, because my body is still capable, and one day it might be something I let go from my practice. I practice it because it is one of the poses that teaches how hard work and patience are important, a lesson that has been infinitely important off the mat.
The students and I had fun exploring different supported variation and conditioning exercises. No one fell on their head and died (one of the fears expressed by the students before we started). No one got injured and people left with more information than they had walked in with, and hopefully more confidence. I left feeling grateful for their open and willing spirits. The whole process made me realize how much I thoroughly enjoyed the more one on one, in depth nature of teaching a workshop as opposed to a class. I asked the students who wanted to write testimonials for me. Their words made my heart smile.
I might not be the greatest yoga teacher, but I am pretty damn great! I am looking forward to leading more workshops in the future. My next inversion workshop will be February 26th at Dakini Movement Studio in Warren, NJ from 1:30-3:30.
Testimonials from students:
“Jenn’s class was great. A buddy system allows you to feel supported throughout the practice. Jenn also comes around and assists you throughout. Great tips and advice.” – Doris
“Jenn’s class was awesome! It’s great to learn from someone so passionate about yoga! She is a great teacher and I really learned a lot that I didn’t know before!“
“I had a great time in the handstand workshop by Jennifer. I have been practicing handstand for a while now and felt that I was stuck in making progress. During the workshop I’ve received some very useful tips that made me break through my handstand plateau. She broke down everything into digestible chunks and gave us plenty of chances/time to practice what we learned. I would highly recommend Jennifer Elise Yoga workshops.” – Crystal F.