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Expect the Unexpected

As in life, things rarely go to plan in a yoga class. By Paula Hines

This month’s column is inspired by Carly, a wonderful human being who is a fitness instructor in Bristol. I chuckled with empathy as on social media – @project.hb on Instagram – she described a number of challenges which arose in the course of teaching an outdoor class one day (including the appearance of dog poop) and how it led her to recall some advice offered to her when she was training: “It’s not the class content itself which matters the most, it’s how you deal with everything that comes along to cock up your carefully made plans.”

How true these words are. I’ve found the same applies to teaching yoga. This is a subject that might not always come up during teacher training courses, but as sure as night follows day, one should always expect the unexpected.

Naturally, being prepared is wise, though it is a good idea to carry a class plan with the full knowledge that it may need to go out of the window at any given moment. This is because you can be certain that at some point, eventually, there will be a curveball coming your way.

I’ve more or less become so used to this that it is hard to recall specific incidents. I’ve been fortunate that most have been amusing in hindsight, if not at the time, and not dangerous. Just a few of the unexpected moments I’ve experienced over the years that come to mind have included:

  • A rowdy table tennis tournament taking place in the same (rather small) room as our class;
  • Incorporating a keen student on crutches into busy flow classes;
  • Teaching a corporate chair yoga class with no chairs;
  • Students (female and male) deciding to strip down to their underwear in the middle of class;
  • Teaching fifty people in a corridor after a room was double-booked;
  • Teaching an outdoor class with an audience of stony-faced, ice-cream eating tourists;
  • A visiting student taking my photo to, “…prove to family back home that there are black people in England.”
  • I’ve heard some hilarious (and alarming) stories from fellow yoga teachers too.

So, if you are a teacher of yoga (or any discipline, in fact) what can you do? Be safe (do first-aid training if you haven’t already), go with the flow and know that keeping a sense of humour will certainly come in handy.

Paula Hines is a London-based yoga teacher and writer (ucanyoga.co.uk)

Read more Teacher’s Tales here

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