5 of my teaching bloopers that will make you laugh

 Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or is it me falling out of Lord of the Dance pose?

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or is it me falling out of Lord of the Dance pose?

I love my yoga and I take it very seriously.

Seriously, I do.

OK, sometimes I may get mixed up between my left and my right and sometimes you will hear laughing coming from the rooms I use. But it’s all cool, right?

I have some beautiful souls who come to roll out their yoga mats with me week after week and I sincerely love each of their individual presences and smiles. I particularly love their kindnesses when they discretely remind me that it’s “left leg this time” or “elbows should be over wrists not elbows over ankles”. Do my yoga classes sound like some kind of weird game of Twister? Maybe so.

We have a comfortable relaxed practise together and we can take a light-hearted approach to it when that is appropriate. Indeed, I have had frequent feedback that they enjoy my classes for this very reason.

The purpose of a yoga practice, as I see it, is to prepare the body for a spiritual, meditation or concentration practice. And that certainly is the case for me personally.

Compared to my almost twenty years of practicing the physical poses, I am a relative newbie to meditation because I always thought I’m not good at it. Certainly over the last four or five years I have found that it is far easier for me to sit comfortably for a time if I have first moved my body and encouraged my prana to flow, the toxins to move, my breath to focus and my mind to still.

Perhaps you have a meditation practise or perhaps you would like to have one but feel like you can’t stop the chatter of your mind?

That’s normal; we’re human and that happens. It’s not called a practice for nothin’, folks. Start with just a couple of minutes, make yourself comfortable, set a timer and decide on something that you can use to bring your focus back to. Perhaps notice the physical sensations of the body, bring your focus to the flicker of a candle or you might find it simpler to bring your focus back to the sensations of the breath every time you notice your mind wandering.

There are often times when, during a short meditation practise, during a savasana or during a short practise of mantra yoga or chanting, I see the tell-tale signs of shaking shoulders, stifled giggles, redness of faces. And I love that. If ever you come to my class, please don’t worry if you get the giggles, I understand that sometimes relaxing in a roomful of people you don’t know very well can be outside of your comfort zone.

Above all else, when your attention wanders, because it will wander, don’t beat yourself up about it! You wouldn’t teach a child or a puppy in this way, don’t do it to you! Ahimsa is the first of the five yamas that yogi’s live by and it means kindness (literally, non-violence).

It is a serious business as in; it IS important, but treat yourself well with a kind and generous heart.

I try to do this myself when I make a blunder with my teaching cues.

Sometimes, I get so in-the-moment that I lose my train of thought and say the wrong words. THIS is what tickles my lovely groups of yogis so. I like to think that if I’m going to do something, I may as well do it big, and I like to laugh. Oftentimes at myself. I am human being and I am not perfect and I’m totally ok with that.

 

Lions Breath

Well, what can I say about this very serious pranayama known as simhasana or Lion’s Breath…?

The benefits, as with all of the breathing exercises, are numerous; it relieves tension in the neck, face, tongue, jaw, eye and upper chest muscles, it stimulates the Jalandhara Bandha, the vocal chords and the vishuddha chakra, it warms the body and throat, it feels good to release tension by creating sound with the exhale.

It will also, apparently, have a group of mummas-to-be in fits of giggles, thinking that I have some kind of candid camera poised and ready for a practical joke. I confess to having a little bit of a concern about bringing on an early labour, (fetch the hot water and towels!), but their giggles were infectious, so we just rolled with it and everyone enjoyed an impromptu laughter yoga session. (Yes, Laughter Yoga is an actual thing).

 

Let me in!

Q. How many yoga teachers does it take to open a door?

A. 1 x dance instructor

In true 'Three Little Pigs’ style, one of my class sessions saw my team of yogis arrive to find me at the door to one of my venues, turning the key to the studio door.

Just not very successfully.

"Once, Twice, Three Times a Lady" said The Commodores, but no so with this key-turning malarkey. And others tried, because I had to make sure I wasn’t being completely dizzy and doing it wrong. Trying to remind zen and calm, I was starting to panic that I might

a) snap the key in the lock

b) have to tell my yogini’s to go home again

or

c) start to cry...

One text message, lots of deep breaths and face-fanning and one phone call later, we were rescued by the brilliant Simone of Believe Academy, who might just as well have had flashing blue lights on the top of her car. In true British sitcom fashion, she of course was able to open the door on the first turn of the key. What can I say? It was an awkward lock but all was well and everyone chipped in to prepare the studio for our yoga class, only ten minutes late starting.

 

When the whole class are mavericks and do as they please.

During a particularly beautiful outdoor practise, the energy of the group was quiet special.

The focus was unified as we moved through a sequence of fairly challenging poses. On their hands and knees, I had carefully planned that a release of the spine was exactly what was needed after some strong back-muscle use.

The entire class had other plans.

With no prompt or sight of what other people were doing, instinctively, they all came into balasana (child's pose).

The coincidence of the collective movement tickled me and everyone else, but I loved it!!

I always make a point of saying that my students should always listen to what feels right for their body and that child’s pose is always available for them for a pause or a rest.

And they did. All of them!

When they realised what had happened we all had a chuckle and it really underlined to me that these great people really do listen to their own bodies and know what is the right thing for them.

 

Tidal waves of relaxation...

I always finish my classes with a period of relaxation in the form of a yoga pose called, savasana or corpse pose.

If you come to my classes, please know that I will never miss this pose out because I believe it is the most important part. “I’m just here for the savasana” was the slogan on a Sweaty Betty t-shirt a couple of years ago (I love Sweaty Betty).

This yoga pose is also one that some find the hardest of all, because I invite you to do….absolutely nothing. I mentioned that the physical yoga practise helps to prepare the body for a spiritual, meditation or concentration practice, and this is where it starts.

Savasana is a period of 5 or 10 minutes of stillness where all of the muscles can pause and be still, almost as though you were preparing for sleep. The legs and arms can be heavy and the back, shoulders and back of the head can melt into the mat. There really is nothing to do, other than to let the prana move around the body, let the breath come, encourage to mind to focus or be still and to absorb all of the good schizz from your asana practise.

It is one of my favourite practises to lead in a yoga class. Simply magical.

And so it’s important for my to get it just so.

Anything i can do to facilitate your relaxation, name it  - windows for the temperature, lights for set the mood, an eye pillow, blankets or bolsters to help you find just the right position. It’s important; never skip or underestimate a savasana.

So, I think you can imagine the scene as this beautiful practice began perfectly... and I kicked my water bottle, flooding the wooden floor with almost the entire contents.

It is impressive and surprising the rate at which 750ml of water can spread and the surface area it can create. Frantic and silent mopping ensued, all the while trying to maintain an even and calm tone of voice so as not to spoil the experience for my lovelies.

My denim jacket and emergency pocket tissues came in very handy, I can tell you.

I learned an important lesson about making sure water bottle is placed out of the way and the lid is secured. 

 

And finally, I must tell you about my pièce de résistance so far...

Yes, I really did close one of my classes with... “Exhale... take your gin to your chest…”

I have no words.

Thanks for making it all the way to the end, dear reader, inner peace shall certainly be yours. Feel free to like, comment or share with someone else who might be in need. x

 

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