Defining boundaries and teaching voice

Fall in Brooklyn

I’ve been feeling off this week but I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I finished my 4th weekend of teacher training. We spent six hours with Schuyler Grant, the director of the studio and co-creator of Wanderlust Festival. She is an amazing presence that just fills a room with wisdom, grace and presence.

We practiced teaching with her (no, not intimidating at all. ha!), the same kind of spur-of-the-moment, you-have-3-minutes to come up with a sequence type group exercise like we did in Connecticut. While I’ve loosened up considerably during these exercises, I still find that I’m judging myself at the end.

I’m struggling with finding my voice as a teacher. I know that it can take years to hone in on your teaching voice where you speak from a place of authenticity. But the thing is that I feel like my fellow teachers-in-training are getting it or at least have a spark of authenticity that comes out and personality that shines through. I often feel like my voice gets dull, speaking like robo-teacher hitting all the alignment points of a pose.

reverse warrior variation

OK, it might not be as dramatic as that but I don’t want to be a bad teacher. I want to teach well and I know that’s not something that I can control. It does go hand in hand with my personality. I hold things close to my chest and I’m not blatantly open for others to read. My teaching voice peeks out here and there in small glimpses usually when I’m comfortable and feel safe.

I love everything that goes into this training. I love analyzing the poses, deconstructing them, and the anatomy but that’s the part that makes sense to me because I can study it and know it. But when you teach, you have to be spontaneous and you have to adapt. You have to perform.

I went home on Friday evening feeling all of this and feeling vulnerable with more questions floating in my head than answers. When we returned to the studio on Saturday, we had a session on prenatal yoga and the pelvic floor with Lara. I won’t go into it all but it was fascinating and I have such a greater appreciation for the pelvic floor muscles and how important they are in our bodies.

headstand with eagle legs

Towards the end of the session, Lara wrapped my hips (adapted from an ancient practice). She had me lay down on my back and she placed a wide scarf under my hips. She then tightened the scarf around me, as if she were about to tie a knot.

In that moment when the scarf tightened around me, I felt a burst of energy from either side of my hips move towards my midline and then rush up my midline or central column and towards my head. It overwhelmed me. I could feel tears threatening to pour out of my eyes. It was the most unexpected, intense and powerful experience. In that same moment, the compacting of my hips made me feel solid and safe and stable.

Lara said that it wasn’t unusual to have this reaction. The practice helps to redefine one’s boundaries. After giving birth, our hips and pelvis are anatomically loose and this practice helps to reestablish a solid foundation. But also, as a parent, you lose your boundaries to your children, your family, your partner and in many ways, this practice also helps to reestablish a sense of self. I think that that’s something that I needed.

Yesterday, I read Tamara’s post and I realized how I have been feeling this week – tenderhearted. That seems to sum it up.


More about my yoga teacher training experience:


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  1. says

    “In that moment when the scarf tightened around me, I felt a burst of energy from either side of my hips move towards my midline and then rush up my midline or central column and towards my head. It overwhelmed me. I could feel tears threatening to pour out of my eyes.” I want to feel that!

    I actually had this type of sensation once, during a massage. The lady said it was common and to cry it out. During a moment when she did something to my back – this flood of bad memories came rushing forward, but totally released. And I felt such a sense of peace after that. Let it out girl!

    Do you think not only tenderheartedness, but also due to feeling vulnerable. I know if often makes me feel off. And I think its why I feel it at the present moment – as I pave new ways, new boundaries for my own life and way. xo
    Christine @ Oatmeal Bowl recently posted..No-Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies RecipeMy Profile

  2. says

    I’ve cried in yoga class before. I don’t remember what pose, or my exact state of mind at the time. I do remember feeling vulnerable before the class and even more so, when I actually had tears coming out of my eyes in the middle of a pose. I never analyzed it but I do love your thoughts on boundaries and being tender-hearted.

    I love that you’re not only learning about yourself physically, but emotionally, through this journey of yoga teacher training.
    Alison recently posted..Not TalkingMy Profile

    • says

      I never used to get emotional in yoga class but I think that as I dive deeper into my practice and peel away the layers, the emotions just bubble up. It always surprises me a little how it surfaces and then just wants to overflow in the middle of class.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Dear Lululemon: I quit youMy Profile

  3. says

    I think that it is just like everything else – practice and time and you will find your voice and your confidence will soar!!!
    And that experience with the hips and scarf sounds intense – I’m not sure I’ve ever had that type of experience during an exercise class (or maybe ever).
    Kim recently posted..My Pre-Halloween ScareMy Profile

  4. says

    I’ve been tenderhearted all week too. And then I read this about the wrapping of your hips and went wow! Those hips, man. What we hold there – what we need to let go from there. It’s a process. I’m glad you are allowing yourself to be open and vulnerable while you are going through this. It doesn’t always feel good, but well worth it. I love reading about your YTT.
    Ilene recently posted..Out of OrderMy Profile

  5. says

    I cried once in a meditation class. Another time, I started laughing. You just never know what will hit you and how, I guess. Thank you so much for referencing my Tenderhearted post. This is the week of the Tender! And I would love to have that experience with my hips. The things they go through with pregnancy, birth and with carrying babies and big toddlers on our hips.
    Tamara recently posted..Tenderheart.My Profile

  6. says

    Wow–what a very cool experience. I could see “western-minded” people rolling their eyes at that kind of experience, but I think it’s really awesome you got to go through it. I’m sure it will all tie into your finding your voice, too, in some way, shape or form. Neat journey you are on!
    misszippy recently posted..My strange sense of calmMy Profile

  7. says

    Friend, you WILL find your voice. It took me awhile too. I tend to have a bit of a monotone voice, just naturally, and I was worried I would come across boring or just that – monotone – and after a lot of practice and when in a live room full of energy and clients that are pushing their limits, focusing and giving it their all, your voice will just burst out naturally. I promise. It may take you a little while to get warmed up, but once you do, your voice will shine. And it’ll evolve over time too. I find that happened to me, now a year and a half into teaching, that my voice now is very different from then, and it’s just amazing how much that evolution happens continually!! I am really excited for you and love reading your perspective as you go through this, very similar worries, very similar feelings etc. As for the scarf/hip story – that is just amazing. What an experience for you. XOXO
    Jolene recently posted..A fun lesson in stepping back and letting go.My Profile

    • says

      Thank you so much my friend. It means the world to me to have your support especially because I know that you get this. We’ll see how it all goes tomorrow. GAH! I’m excited. I know that it’s totally a work in progress and it’s not something that you just get and have right away. It evolves as I do.
      Christine Yu recently posted..Dear Lululemon: I quit youMy Profile

  8. says

    This had me in tears. First, I hate to hear you doubt yourself (I understand, because I’ve been there so many times myself) but I hate to hear you say it. If you saw the beauty and grace that the world sees in you, you would never doubt yourself ever again. I also know the feeling of being overcome with emotion by yoga, it is powerful and energizing. You are learning so much, so many amazing things. You are becoming more open and that would lead the strongest person to feel off. It is a new way of life, a new chapter, but just like that rush of energy, this new chapter will be full of joy and happiness. I just know you’re meant to be a teacher. You are amazing. xoxo
    Lisa @ RunWiki recently posted..Frozen Banana BitesMy Profile

  9. says

    I am sure that you are more critical of your teacher’s voice (or perceived lack thereof) than others are/will be, and it will become more natural as you keep practicing and teaching. You are so kind and authentic — that will shine through any nerves and touch your students.
    Coco recently posted..All Hallow’s Eve Book ReviewsMy Profile

  10. says

    I struggled with finding my teacher voice when I was teaching group fitness in the States. People would tell me they loved hearing my Aussie accent then tell my boss they couldnt understand me. I got feedback overload and was really anxious. I finally decided I just had to be me and be confident and those who didnt like my style would drop off and others would come!

    What a cool experience to have With your hip wrapping. I’ve never experienced that, but I’ve definitely cried in yoga before.
    Jess recently posted..Inspiration from Dr Jared NoelMy Profile


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